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Woman Refuses To Let Stepson’s Mom Chip In To Help Buy Him A Car For His Birthday

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A gift should always be a gesture of kindness.

The payoff of giving a present, be it a handmade note or a diamond ring, should be the joy you hope it will bring the recipient.

Not one’s own satisfaction or glory.

Redditor Spirulina4 and her husband had a special idea in mind for her stepson’s upcoming birthday.

When the boy’s mother learned of the idea, she decided she wanted in on the present too.

An idea the original poster (OP) was not at all for.

Wondering if she was out of line, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA), where they asked fellow Redditors:

“AITA? My husband and I are getting my stepson a car for his birthday. His mother wants to chip in and say that the car is from all of us, but I don’t want to do that.”

The OP explained how she and her husband had a special plan for her stepson’s birthday, which she was less than willing to let his mother be a part of.

“My stepson is turning 18 soon and my husband and I decided that we will be getting him a car.”

“I make more than my husband does and we will be splitting the cost of the car 70/30.”

“That’s fine with me.”

“His mother is a woman who I make the effort to be civil with but don’t like.”

“I am much younger than she and my husband are, and come from a more privileged background, she had a lot of things to say about that.”

“She called me her ex’s cash cow and that’s one of the better things she said about me.”

“We are not friends and I won’t even describe her as nice to me.”

“When my husband told her that we will buy my stepson a car for his birthday, she said she wants to chip in 5% of the cost and then we could tell my stepson that the gift is from all of his parents and step parents.”

“I don’t want to do that.”

“I don’t need her 5% and my stepson knows that his mom and step dad are not in a position to equally share the cost of buying the car.”

“I don’t want recognition for paying 70% of his gift’s cost but I don’t want to share my and my husband’s gift to my stepson with a woman who has always been antagonistic to me.”

“I don’t know why she wants us to gift the car jointly now because we’ve never given my stepson a gift jointly before.”

“And I don’t understand what’s so bad about getting separate gifts from me and his dad, and his mom and his stepdad.”

“I know that many people will say that it’s better for my stepson to see that all his parents and step parents are getting along.”

“I’m civil to his mom and I never talk negatively about her to him. Is that not enough?’

“Am I incapable of being a good step mother to him if I’m not best friends with his mom?”

“Do I have to let his mom get her way whenever she asks in the name of all parents getting along?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation, by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

The Reddit community was somewhat divided as to where the OP fell in this situation.

Many agreed that the OP was justified for not wanting the boy’s mother included in the gift, agreeing it wasn’t fair for her to want credit for the car when she only wanted to contribute such a small amount.


“If she was offering to pay 33% I’d feel differently.”

“She just wants to piggy back off your gift.”- disregardable


“If she wants to contribute she can cover his insurance for the first year.”- RainCityRogue


“‘Why don’t you put that 5% toward a gift that he will appreciate that comes solely from you?'”-JackNotName


“She wants to take credit for the gift, and with the way you described her, there is a big chance that she is gonna milk this if you let her pay.”

“If she wants to be part of it so much, just let her buy seat covers, air freshener or something similar that’s within her budget and could be used for the car.”

“This way she technically was part of the gift, but you can easily separate her part as ‘me and my husband bought you this car, and that accesory for it is from your Mom’.”

“Nice and civil.”- Theystolemyname2


“It’s a gift from you and your husband.”

“She can contribute by accenting the gift, getting seat covers, steering wheel cover, air fresheners, trunk organizer, emergency roadside kit, etc and it will be more authentic than if she tried to put a pittance towards the car.”

“She could even cover insurance or give him a gas card.”

“But trying to nudge her way in with such a small amount is ridiculous.”- ChaosofaMadHatter

Others, however, questioned the OP’s intentions in getting her stepson a car, with some wondering if she was trying to flaunt her wealth and privilege, as her husband’s ex apparently accused her of, with others thinking that she was overlooking the significance in someone’s first car.

“Yes, you do.”

“It’s because a car to an 18 year old is a treasure beyond price and he will be over the moon with it.”

“Even if it was a used Honda Fit, but I’m guessing from your hints that it will be something classier than that, it’ll be his first car, he’ll be grateful and never forget it.”

“She wants to be part of that, even though the truth is, she isn’t.”

“I wouldn’t lie.”

“The car is from you two, let that be so but don’t belabor it.”

‘The more important questions are all the other details of ownership.”

“Are you paying for insurance and maintenance?”

“For how long?”



“What about repairs if he wrecks it?”

“Does he have a job, can he cover the ongoing costs?”

“I hope you aren’t just bestowing it and waving as he drives it away.”

“A better plan might be to tell him you’d like to fund a car, and tell him your budget.”

“Then walk him through selecting a car he likes, have him participate in the purchase process, dealership? private sale?) and all of the many things that car ownership requires.”

“If you do all this stuff yourselves, then not only does he get the car YOU choose for him, he loses an incredibly valuable set of experiences.”- leberkrieger

“ESH and here’s why.”

“I’m on the other side of this.”

“This could be my kids in 10 years.”

“My ex and his wife make triple what I do.”

“They spend lavishly on my kids, and that’s super.”

“However, they, more specifically she, likes to rub it in my face, going so far as to ‘remind’ me she’s ‘more successful’ than I am.”

“They like to say things that reminds my children, indirectly, that mom makes less and they can afford practical everything.”

“My kids insult my house, that I worked hard for and pay for and OWN.”

‘They insult my car, it’s not a Porsche like hers or a Mercedes like his, it’s a simple ford hatchback.”

“They insult my food, I cooked it and didn’t order out.”

“They don’t directly tell the kids to act like this, but their lavish lifestyle and spending has kinda turned my kids into selfish and snobby people.”

“So be it.”

“They also have good parts of me, they’re compassionate with their peers, they’re logical, etc.”

“Anyway, I tend to ignore her.”

“I’m civil and I don’t talk badly about her in front of my children.”

“I more or less vent to my friends when I’m frustrated.”

“The thing is, stepmoms in these situations often feel insecure because dad had kids with ex, and ex just WON’T go away.”

“In your situation the bio mom feels inadequate because at 18, a new car and money to burn is a lot.”

“She probably remembers being 18 and wanting those things.”

“What was she doing?”

“Was she already a mom?”

“Who knows.”

“Bio mom is feeling insecure and you come across happy to let her stew; after all, you didn’t choose her life, right?”

“Compassion is key here.”

“Let her contribute her piddly 5%.”

“Let her be a part of this.”

“And let your stepson see that you can be gracious instead of self centered.”

“For me?”

“When this happens, I will remind my kiddos they are fortunate and buy my son some fuzzy dice or a hula girl for the dash.”

“I’m secure in my attachment to my children.”

“It feels like the bio mom in this situation is not.”

“Stepmom needs to learn some compassion.”

“Bio mom needs to deal with her insecurity.”

“Dad needs to establish better in bounds and out of bounds behavior for his wife.”-RedHotPotatoSalad

One can imagine that the mother of the OP’s stepson might feel jealous or intimidated that her ex-husband and his second wife are giving him a lavish gift that she can’t afford herself.

However, even if there are few presents any 18-year-old will get more excited over than a car, hopefully the boy’s mother will realize that what defines a truly great present is the thought and meaning behind it, not the value.

Perhaps something the OP should take into account as well, depending on her true motivations behind getting her stepson a car.

Written by John Curtis

A novelist, picture book writer and native New Yorker, John is a graduate of Syracuse University and the children's media graduate program at Centennial College. When not staring at his computer monitor, you'll most likely find John sipping tea watching British comedies, or in the kitchen, taking a stab at the technical challenge on the most recent episode of 'The Great British Baking Show'.