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Dad Threatens To Divorce New Wife After Stepdaughter Refuses To Learn ASL For His Deaf Daughter

young girl practicing sign language with her mom
fizkes/Getty Images

Blending families is no easy task, and that task becomes increasingly more complicated when new family members have unique needs.

Redditor Smart_Palpitation147 recently married a man whose daughter communicates solely via American Sign Language.

The Original Poster’s (OP’s) own daughter is refusing to learn ASL to communicate with her new stepsister.

This drove the OP to subReddit “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA).

She asked:

“AITA for forcing my daughter to learn sign language?”

She went on to explain.

“I [49-year-old Female] recently married my husband [52-year-old Male] who has a deaf 7 year old daughter. She communicates solely via ASL.”

“For some background, my daughter [17-year-old Female] is generally a very non-problematic teenager.”

“She does amazing in school, and has never caused any problems other than regular teenage hormone stuff. However, she doesn’t like my husband and step daughter.”

“She is not outwardly rude, but basically ignores their existence (skipped [stepdaughter’s] birthday party, doesn’t engage in anything other than basic small talk with my husband).”

“I did try to do family activities together to have the bond and all, but I stopped pushing it when it didn’t happen and as long as she’s not being outwardly rude or harmful to them, I can’t exactly punish her for not liking them.”

“Now, since my relationship with my now husband started getting serious, I started taking ASL classes and am now basically as fluent as a hearing person can be.”

“My daughter, however, never made an effort, which is ok since she technically has no responsibility towards her.”

“However, recently my daughter has started watching [stepdaughter] (paid) when we aren’t around, which changes things.”

“In my opinion, since she is now spending time in which she is responsible for a young child, she needs to learn at least basic communication.”

“When I brought it up to her, she outright refused to make any effort at all.”

“I tried recommending YouTube videos, but she refused to try learning even a couple words, saying she’s not responsible for my choice to be in the life of a disabled child.”

“This issue has also been causing a lot of problems in my marriage.”

“My husband confided in me that he’s starting to feel uncomfortable with his young daughter living with someone who is so cold she refuses to make even the most basic effort, or engage with her at all.”

“He has brought up that he is considering divorce due to his concerns about how [stepdaughter] will be affected by this.”

“So given all that, I had to finally put my foot down.”

“I told my daughter that we have a disabled person living in our household for the foreseeable future, and if she wants to live here for college (graduating next month), she has to at least learn basic ASL.”

“She doesn’t have to like her stepfather and stepsister, nor does she have to hang out with them, but she has to have the ability to communicate with her for the sake of safety and basic decency.”

“I made it clear that if she chooses not to, she is welcome to live in a dorm (that I will pay for ), it’s just that living in our house (that is also my SD’s house, my husband and I paid for the house equally) comes with basic rules.”

“Well, my daughter hasn’t spoken to me for 7 days, so its about time I ask, AITA?”

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

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

Redditors decided:

“ESH, except the youngling.”

“Your daughter is TA because she misplaces her frustration and emotional discomfort of your new marriage on her step-sister – the last person on earth who it should be put on.”

“Maybe she even resents that you made her watch, paid or not.”

“Your husband is TA because he threatens you with divorce over this.”

“Instead of talking and asking your daughter how she feels, or consider a different babysitter he pulls out the nuclear option to your relationship.”

“You are TA because you throw you daughter under the bus for marriage’s sake and threaten to kick her out instead of being a mother and trying to understand her and offer her a bail out aka a different babysitter.”

“Edit: Disagreeing with my pov is fine, but you don’t need to DM me insults.” – AlcoholicCocoa

“YTA for having your daughter babysit when she won’t learn ASL. That’s ridiculous; find someone else.”

“I think you need to realise that, from your daughter’s perspective, this relationship is still relatively new and as a near-adult she is less likely to see your stepdaughter as her stepsister.”

“To her, you’re changing the agreement re her living at home for college. I don’t think you’re wrong re ASL; tbh it’s a good to to learn irrespective of living with someone who communicates this way.”

“But you have some work to do here. You’ve moved people into her home that she doesn’t like; this was always unlikely to go well.” – Waste-Edge446

“Daughter no longer watches step daughter, problem solved. I don’t think trying to force this is going to end well. I think it’s nbd to learn a few basics in another language, but that’s me.”

“‘He has brought up that he is considering divorce due to his concerns about how SD will be affected by this.’”

“Maybe he should have thought about this/checked before marriage.”

“Gonna go YTA. This isn’t her marriage, her step daughter, her responsibility.” – WhitneyWhispers

“Obvious YTA. You get it right in the first part of this post when you point out that your daughter doesn’t like not does she have any responsibility towards your husband and stepdaughter.”

“It’s only when your husband threatened YOU with consequences did you start f*cking up. Yeah, your daughter definitely shouldn’t be babysitting her without knowing ASL.”

“So find a different babysitter. You threatening to kick her out of her own home, because you are actively choosing your stepdaughter over her, is disgusting.” – idontcare8587

“YTA for having presumably years to see your daughter doesn’t consider your new family to be her family.”

“She’s allowed to be indifferent to what are essentially some random roommates you’ve decided to move in.”

“Not everyone has the skill or time to learn a second language and you’ve decided that in her senior year when she’s busy with all that that entails, she needs to learn an entirely new skill to satisfy these random roommates of yours, otherwise you’re permanently kicking her out of her home and your life.”

“Get a whiteboard for them to communicate with each other in emergencies and then deal with the fact you’ve done a terrible job blending these two families.” – ciderandcake


“I will never understand parents of minor children who marry people that their kids clearly do not f*cking like.”

“Do I personally think learning sign language could be beneficial for life in general and not just because of step daughter? Yeah, definitely.”

“Do I think you can/should force your daughter to learn a new language to accommodate your step child that she doesn’t even like? No, absolutely not.”

“Telling her she can’t live at home if she doesn’t do something for a step sibling she didn’t ask for and doesn’t like will ruin your relationship with your daughter.”

“She’s made it clear she does not like the people you chose to bring into her life. Stop trying to force her to accept them.”

“You’re TA to your daughter for marrying someone and forcing her to live with two people she doesn’t like.”

“And now you’re double TA for telling her you’ll kick her out of her house if she doesn’t learn a new language for a step sibling she didn’t even want.”

“You’re also TA to your step daughter for forcing her to live in a house with another child who does not like her.”

“You and your new husband are both TA’s to each other and each other’s kids. And awful parents all around.”

“ETA: you and your husband are also both TA’s for leaving a deaf seven year old in the care of someone who 1) does not like her and 2) does not sign and therefore can’t communicate with her.” – NJtoOx

“Your recently married husband threatened divorce over the fact that your child (who is not long to be an adult) won’t learn a language to be able to easily communicate with his child…”

“…which would presumably only be relevant for a few more years anyway.”

“There’s a dynamic issue at play here that there isn’t enough info on that would almost certainly shift things one way or the other…”

“…but for the fact that you are willing to kick your own child out of her home (even if you were to pay for the alternative accomodation) on the basis of your husband’s over-the-top threat, YTA.” – shadowofthegrave

“NTA I know the Reddit people have a beef against step siblings/parents but to go against a deaf little kid you got to have forgotten your heart at the bottom on the Mariana Trench.”

“You are also quite generous to pay for dormitory at this point. As you pointed it out, they do not have to become BFF, considering also the age difference, but this is minimum curtesy.”

“It’s also an added skill, another language she can use in the future, put in her resume and so on.”KikiMadeCrazy

Hopefully the OP can find a better way to approach blending her new family with her daughter’s comfort.

Written by B. Miller

B. is a creative multihyphenate who enjoys the power and versatility of the written word. She enjoys hiking, great food and drinks, traveling, and vulnerable conversation. Raised below the Mason Dixon, thriving above it. (she/her)