Stepparents are in a unique situation, most would admit, because their role is somewhat uncertain. Are they just a partner or a new parent? Do they have any authority in their new kids’ lives?
These are questions that every couple with pre-existing children must answer, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Some-Issues3765 wasn’t sure how to proceed after her stepson became so mad at her, he took it out on his 6-month-old half-sister.
When she was also criticized by the teen’s mother, the Original Poster (OP) was even more overwhelmed.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for sending my stepson to his mom after he flushed my daughter’s formula down the toilet and wanting to tell his dad?”
The OP was home with her daughter and stepson.
“I (37 [female]) have been married to my husband Aaron for 3 years.”
“He has a son (Thomas) age 16 who tends to be so stubborn and moody sometimes.”
“I’m a SAHM (stay-at-home mom) with a 6-month-old daughter, and because my husband travels a lot for work, I handle everything around the house.”
The OP had to decline one of Thomas’s requests.
“A few days ago, Thomas asked if he could host a party at our house and invite 16+ friends.”
“I discussed this with his dad, and we said no because we have a newborn in the house and having 16+ people all at once wasn’t safe.”
“Thomas threw a tantrum and kept insisting, saying he already sent out invitations, but I told him it was his fault for doing that before consulting us.”
“He stayed upset and stopped eating for 2 days.”
Thomas’s “tantrum” worsened.
“Then yesterday morning, I noticed my daughter’s formula was missing.”
“I looked everywhere, but once I entered the bathroom, I saw there were traces of it on the floor. I was dumbfounded.”
“I asked Thomas about what happened and he said with a straight face that he flushed it all down the toilet to get back at me and only me for banning him from having the party.”
“I said that wasn’t true and showed him the chat his dad and I had.”
“Still, he insisted that I influenced his dad to say no.”
The OP punished her stepson.
“That is when I lost my temper. I told him he should have never touched anything related to his sister and that her food, comfort, health is where the line is drawn.”
“He tried to argue he wasn’t looking to hurt her but wanted to hurt me through her.”
“I told him I had enough of his irresponsible attitude and told him to pack and get ready to go to his mom’s.”
“He didn’t want to go, despite saying he’d rather be with his mom because she lets him do whatever he wants, as long as he’s not getting in trouble.”
The stepson’s mom did not agree with the OP’s actions.
“I drove him there, and his mom told me off for asking her to punish him for what he did, saying I’m not his parent and also can’t tell her what to do.”
“I said fine then and told Thomas to wait until his dad gets home to give him punishment.”
“He and his mom begged that I don’t tell my husband.”
“His mom said she’ll pay for a replacement for the formula, after all it’s just formula, and her son was feeling frustrated.”
“But to me, it’s not about the formula itself, more than it is about the fact he should be held responsible for what he did.”
“I left and she kept harassing me on SM (social media), claiming I’m trying to turn my husband against his son.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some said therapy was absolutely in order.
“This kid needs major intervention with a therapist. Otherwise, in two short years, he’ll be an adult and free to do this to some poor unsuspecting girlfriend or wife.”
“Imagine what he’s going to do to his own kids just to ‘hurt’ his wife. NTA, OP.” – racylacyta
“He definitely needs to see a therapist. He is way too old to be acting like that. There are some serious behavioral and psychological issues at play.” – queercactus505
“In both instances, it’s an attempt to punish OP by starving someone who isn’t OP. I think there’s some missing context around how he thinks of OP and family food, and a therapist will need to unpack that.” – FuzzyKittenIsFuzzy
Others agreed and said Thomas needed serious consequences.
“Baby formula is expensive, and it’s time Thomas realizes just how much OP is having to shell out to keep his baby sister from going hungry (no one come at me with breastfeeding, some women can’t breastfeed, and it’s not our place or business to decide if OP can’t or won’t breastfeed).” – GlobsofKnobSlob
“I thought from the title you were going to say your stepson was 5 or 6 and I was totally prepared to call you an a**hole.”
“But the fact he’s 16. He knows what actions and consequences are, he’s even admitted doing it to just get at you.”
“You need to talk to your husband about this and he needs to sit down with his son and talk to him about respect for you as one of his caregivers, his little sister, and the behaviors that will not be accepted.” – dinthervxfa
“You are NTA. He’s clearly learned how to play his parents against one another, and it’s utter bulls**t that his mom says you can’t discipline him because you’re not his parent.”
“You should sit your husband down the minute he returns and straighten this out with him. If you don’t have the authority to discipline him, then Thomas doesn’t come to your house while your husband is traveling.”
“You should also tell him everything. Thomas and his mother need to learn that actions have consequences, and he can’t use the excuse that his parents are divorced to whitewash over his bad behavior.” – 1800TurdFerguson
Some said there were foundational issues in how the OP was supposed to parent.
“Bio mom says OP can’t punish him because she isn’t his ‘parent,’ but when OP decides to get the other parent involved, all of a sudden she can’t do that?”
“So Thomas is supposed to just not be punished whatsoever? This is learned behavior 100%. He’s learned to play his parents against each other.”
“Also, if his mom lets him do whatever, then he can just have the party there, problem solved.” – Mongoosedog12
“Bio mom should pay to replace the lost baby formula, and OP should still discuss this incident with her husband. She is in an untenable situation.” – commandantskip
“Mom is clearly using Thomas to ‘get back’ at OP. Sure, he is acting out like any teenager would do, but the fact that she begged OP to not tell her husband shows that she isn’t being open and honest about everything.” – numbersthen0987431
After receiving supportive feedback, the OP shared an update.
“I just got off the phone with Aaron and told him about what’s happening and he was livid.”
“He said he now knows why Thomas’s mother kept ignoring his previous calls and said he was going to try and call her again and we’ll see how this plays out.”
“The reason I waited was that I felt cornered and unable to figure out how to deal with the situation.”
“But like I said, Aaron’s ex-wife has a history of lying for herself and her son to get away with everything she and Thomas do. It’s pretty clear to me now that she’s been using Aaron’s absence to her advantage.”
Though the OP felt cornered at first and unsure what to do, the subReddit insisted she stand up for herself, and more importantly, her six-month-old daughter.
It seems there will be some movement now that the father is involved, but it’s hard to say how the relationship with the kids will go in the future.