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Teen Grounded After Refusing To Accept His Stepmother’s Help Decorating His Room

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Everyone always hopes that marriages will work out and at least if they don’t, that the divorce won’t be too terrible.

But when it comes to handling divorce and custody, any results are possible, admitted the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Though Redditor Greyhare76 was amicable with his ex-wife, their kids didn’t totally agree.

When a recent occurrence showed a divide between his son and second wife, the Original Poster (OP) struggled to find a solution.

He asked the sub:

“AITA for grounding my son after he decorated his room without his stepmother?”

The OP tried to be amicable with his ex-wife.

“I (47 [male]) have 2 sons from my past marriage, Abel (16) and Michael (15).”

“When I got remarried six years ago, Abel was very accepting and got on great with his new stepmom Laurie.”

“Michael put up a fuss and was adamant about being with his mom full-time.”

“I fought like hell to keep him in my custody, but once he hit 13, the agreement changed anyways.”

“He stays with his mom half the month and with us the other half.”

“To those who must know why my marriage ended, my wife came out and realized she couldn’t be with me and be her most authentic self.”

“I do not harbor hate towards her if that can explain why I don’t hate my ex-wife and why my current wife wasn’t too upset to see her in the house.”

“The marriage ended as amicable as possible until it came to custody.”

When the family moved to a new house, it was time to redecorate.

“We moved last year, and Laurie and Abel have spent time decorating Abel’s room and making it his own.”

“Michael was offered the same thing recently. Laurie offered to take him to IKEA, Best Buy, and some other stores to find some new furniture and have a day to put the room together.”

“He said he’d think about it and she respected that but still showed him paint colors, beds, and stuff to get him excited about it.”

Michael didn’t stick with the plan, however.

“Last weekend, he came home with a POD full of furniture his mom bought him.”

“I asked him about it, and he said his mom helped him pick out the furniture and was coming around in a few minutes to help him build it and arrange everything.”

“I told Laurie as a heads-up, and she was absolutely crushed.”

“I took my son aside and told him the kind and fair thing to do would be to invite Laurie to help.”

“He said, ‘Nah,’ and told me he wanted to build with his Mom.”

“Unbeknownst to me, Laurie did try to join them and asked if they needed help and my son sent her away and locked the door so she wouldn’t come back.”

The OP decided punishment was in order.

“After Laurie told me this, I grounded him for the week and told him at least he’d enjoy the room his Mom helped decorate.”

“He of course left early to his mother’s and told me he’d see me on our next rotation.”

“Laurie is saying I shouldn’t have grounded him for spending time with his mom.”

“My ex-wife is saying if I keep treating him like this, I won’t see Michael outside of holidays and birthdays.”

“AITA?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: No A**holes Here
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some said the OP was the AH for punishing his son.

“YTA.”

“This is how you end up with a kid going no contact with you as soon as they can.”

“Michael told you he’d think about it. He went in a different direction on his room.”

“Even your current wife is on the level that you’re in the wrong here.”jdphenix

“His own wife knew he overstepped and called him on it. OP is turning his son against himself and his stepmother. YTA”maddr_lurker

“You want to punish him until he treats his stepmother with the same level of relationship, love, and involvement his mom has had since he was born?”

“Is that the plan? You think this will make his heart open up to his stepmother?”

“Like, do you even hear how moronic you sound?”

“Super AH. No wonder your son doesn’t want to spend time with you. Stop forcing kids to like your new added family member.”

“If you care about it that much, you shouldn’t have married her until that was the case.”OokiiStaR

“YTA. Michael has a mother and isn’t interested in a mother/son relationship with your new wife.”

“Michael wanted a new bedroom. You wanted him to have a bonding experience with your wife.”

“He’s made it clear he is not interested in that. You need to respect his wishes or risk further alienating him.”type1error

Others agreed and said the OP was pushing his new wife on his son.

“Why do people like OP think their kids are going to like the new wife more than their own PARENT?”

“It’s got to be insanely aggravating. Listen to your ex and Laurie, please.”

“YTA.”

“If you think the teen in this story isn’t being nice or polite, go back and read how OP’s wife wants him to back off. Also, underage people are entitled to their feelings.”

“Good luck to y’all having a relationship with the kids in your house when they are adults.”TheSpecialFriend

“I grew up with a step-dad and living 50/50 at my mom’s and dad’s. My parents co-parented well most days and no one ever forced me to be closer to my step-dad than I was naturally.”

“It worked fine, and we all got along. It can be done!”

“My dad is gone now, and my step-dad and I still get on OK but we won’t ever be closer than we are. If my mom had tried to force that, we wouldn’t be close at all.”CO420Tech

“Especially when we’re talking about pre-teens and teens. I laud Laurie’s attempts and respecting his decisions while still trying – six years down the road, at that – to bond with them.”

“But Jesus Christ, OP seems to think parents are just replaceable at his whim.”

“And can you imagine how he’d feel if his mom got married and step-dad was being used to replace him? Lord, he’d probably have a rage-induced heart attack.”SandyDelights

“He said Michael wanted to be with his mom full-time and then he proceeded to ‘fight like h**l’ for custody. Why would you force a child to live with you, and what do you expect could possibly be the outcome of that?”

“I mean, you trample on your kid’s boundaries, don’t respect their wishes, force them to do something they don’t want to, and then go all shocked Pikachu when your bond is not great and they don’t accept their stepmom?”

“OP, did you at any point think this through?”

“It’s not about you or your ex. Your son’s life was uprooted when you and his mom split.”

“It was totally out of his control, he felt completely helpless and was shocked to the core. His whole world crumbled.”

“And then he was told where to live, whom to accept as an addition to his family, and whatnot. That’s a lot.”

“What he needs is a dad who listens to him – back then and right now. Stop forcing something on him he doesn’t want and be there for him.”

“Try to bond with him more. Gain his trust by respecting his boundaries. Start slow.”Cruccangna

Though the OP thought punishment was in order, the subReddit did not agree. Not only had his son’s interests been violated repeatedly, but he was being punished for wanting to spend time with his biological mother. The subReddit found that, not only to be unfair, but to be illogical.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.