When two people fall in love and start a new relationship after they’ve both experienced failed marriages, it’s fair that they would want this relationship to work where the first did not.
But making that relationship work should not come at the expense of other people involved, like children, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Unhappy_Lime_885 was getting increasingly frustrated with his father and stepmother for forcing him to spend quality time with his “clingy” stepsister, even when they went to school.
So for his latest school project, in a class he shared with his stepsister, the Original Poster (OP) refused to be paired with her for the project to get some much-needed time away from her.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for asking a teacher not to pair me and my stepsister together for a school project?”
The OP recently wanted to work with someone other than his stepsister for a school project.
“I (16 Male) am the same age as my stepsister. We have a couple of classes together and one of those is Social Studies.”
“Our teacher had talked about a project coming up where we’d be put into pairs and expected to work together for a prolonged period of time.”
“I knew my stepsister would want to be paired with me, so a couple of weeks before the pairs were assigned, I asked the teacher if she could not pair us up.”
“She and I talked for a few minutes and she assured me we wouldn’t be. I was relieved.”
“Then when we were paired up, my stepsister asked the teacher why she wasn’t with me.”
“The teacher told her that she wanted to give everyone the chance to do the project with someone they hadn’t worked with before.”
The teacher was then blamed for the OP’s wishes.
“My stepsister went home and complained to her mom. Then her mom complained to my dad.”
“Then they both complained to the teacher and lied and told her that both my stepsister and I had complained to them.”
“The teacher was like, ‘I thought the OP didn’t want to be paired with his stepsister, so I didn’t pair them up.'”
“This resulted in a fight between my teacher and parents.”
The OP’s father then criticized him for wanting to work separately.
“Then my dad asked me what the h**l I had done. He said I knew my stepsister would want to be with me and I went out of my way to be with anyone else.”
“He said she only wants to have some time with me, and working together would have been a great bonding experience for us since I have never put much focus on bonding with her.”
“They think I’m a d**k now and my stepsister was upset. She heard my dad and her mom yelling about it, and she was hurt I didn’t want to be paired with her.”
But the OP just wanted some time to himself.
“The reason I didn’t want to pair with her is I did not want to spend all that time with her on the project.”
“She’s always trying to cling on to me and I don’t like it.”
“I don’t dislike her, but I’m not interested in being her friend or anything either. I’m polite, I’m civil, but I don’t care about being close. I’d never get time to myself if I gave in.”
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 thought the OP was NTA but needed to be more communicative about his needs.
“Well, you’re definitely NTA, but it might create challenges for everyone and affect your relationships if you don’t express your thoughts directly.”
“It’s a good idea to have a conversation with them and provide a detailed explanation of why you need personal space, and also make it clear that you don’t feel obligated to do everything with your stepsister, but communicate this in a respectful manner.”
“I can empathize with why your dad and stepmom reacted strongly, but they won’t fully understand your perspective unless you speak up.”
“You could also try to reassure your stepsister a bit, as I can imagine she genuinely wanted to bond with you and might feel disappointed that you didn’t reciprocate those feelings but absolutely don’t give in to that, because it could just make you feel even more cramped in your own place. If it doesn’t sit right with you, stand your ground.” – NobodyGlittering9052
“NTA. People should respect your boundaries.”
“But it reads to me like your stepsister is reaching out and trying to have a good relationship with you. Perhaps you could try and meet her halfway? If you have a good relationship with her, she will understand that you also need time to yourself.”
“I can totally understand that you don’t want to be joined at the hip with her. Communicating this to her in an empathetic and kind way will help.” – RegularCandidate4057
“Your parents suck really badly. Not like a ‘special’ amount relative to other boundary-stomping, forced-bonding parents on this particular forum but don’t miss the signals you are receiving here, trust your instincts and advocate for yourself. Because your parents aren’t your advocates or even neutral in their actions, rather they consciously take action to your detriment.”
“Address this, accept it as your reality for now, and act always first and foremost for your interests solely. Do not accept guilt, do not feel bad, for not following their predefined template of what your life is supposed to be; live your own life, and don’t apologize for it, ever.”
“Good luck; I’m sorry.” – ajettas
“NTA. You’re allowed to not have to invest your time with your stepsister. Your parents shouldn’t have lied to the teacher. You should probably have a clear talk with your parents about how she is acting and set a boundary on how much she’s in your face. She’s not allowed to force you to do things, just as you wouldn’t be allowed to force her to do things.”
“For the record, I think group projects are always bad ideas.” – chocolate_chip_kirsy
“If you can, make an appointment with a school counselor and get it put on the record that you do not want to work with your stepsis for future classes and activities. A counselor can also help you communicate your boundaries, and give you advice for enforcing those boundaries.” – PeachyKeenPopcorn
Others reassured the OP that his parents needed to respect his boundaries more.
“I would go back to the teacher and thank her. Tell her your parents lied about you wanting to pair up with the sister and you really appreciate someone in your life respecting your boundaries.” – Music_withRocks_In
“OP, you should talk to your counselor and have them be in the middle. Make sure to explain why so the counselor can communicate an appropriate message to your parents if they come crashing in, which doesn’t get you in hot water with your family, like what happened in your post.”
“You and the teacher did nothing wrong though, NTA. Your parents are AHs for not asking you if you wanted to be in the project with your step-sister. Instead, they imposed their will on you and even took it so far as to speak on your behalf when confronting the teacher.”
“I’m not sure what’s up with the stepsister, but she may just be lonely. Try to be kind if you can, but you have a good head for enforcing your boundaries.” – pdubs1900
“The parents are exhibiting this whole step thing that some parents have. They expect their kids to just embrace the fact that they now have a step-sibling and that they should be the best of friends. When they don’t, they then try to force it, which actually makes it worse.” – Browneyedgirl63
“It’s dumb that parents try to force step-siblings together because if relationships were that simple, then OP’s parents should never have divorced. Instead of saying you gotta love your stepsister because we’re a family, imagine if OP came back with, ‘None of this would be an issue if you loved mom like you were supposed to.'”
“There is some irony in two people coming from failed relationships forcing their relationship ideals onto their kids.” – WhackAMoleWings
“I have twins. Their kindy teacher asked me to have them put in different classes for pre-primary. They felt my daughter would develop better without her twin being in the same class. It worked really well.”
“In Year Six, they asked to put them back together because they said my son was coasting instead of working to his full potential, and his sister was the only one who could challenge him. My daughter was well and truly her own person by then, so we agreed. That also worked. WE based both of those decisions on their relationship at the time.”
“Now they are 16, share a couple of classes, and it’s no hassle at all.” – regus0307
“NTA. You have the right not to have your education damaged by a forced relationship. Getting you and your stepsister to bond is NOT what school is for.”
“Go to the teacher and apologize for your lying parental figures. Ask the teacher to help advocate for you with all your other teachers so you never have to work together.”
“Tell them about the bullying from your parent and refer to the clinginess as creepy and boundary crossing. Also, talk to your guidance counselor and request NOT to be in classes with her if possible in the future.” – TiredAndTiredOfIt
After receiving feedback, the OP shared how he’d followed up with his teacher.
“I ended up thanking my teacher the day after the call happened. I apologized for my dad’s part in it too.”
“She was just sorry she told them I had asked her. She was genuinely confused by my parents’ behavior and then worried I had been trying to get her into trouble for some reason.”
“But she also figured before I talked to her again that my dad and his wife’s reaction was why I had gone to her in the first place.”
“It’s crazy to think your parent will call to try and get you a specific project partner in high school.”
While the subReddit could understand how the parents hoped their children would get along and their relationship would come together into a cohesive, loving family unit, they did believe there was such a thing as forcing a relationship and establishing unhealthy boundaries.