Sometimes pulling families together into new, blended families for marriage doesn’t work for everyone.
This can be a particularly troubling time for teens, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Anonymous3977 had to punish his stepson for something he did to his biological son.
When he received serious pushback from the family, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if he made the right choice.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for using some of my stepson’s camp savings to buy replacement sneakers for my son?”
The OP’s son received a special gift for his birthday.
“My son Chris’s 16th birthday was weeks ago. His mom (my ex-wife) couldn’t be with him due to work but sent him a pair of Adidas sneakers as his birthday gift.”
“Chris is a runner and he enjoys running every day as a way to relieve stress and anxiety.”
“My stepson Jake, age 17, saw the sneakers and said they looked like the ones his favorite artist Kane Brown was wearing in a famous friends music video and so he got so hung up on them.”
“He was always asking Chris to see them and try them on. Chris let him see them but not wear them because Jake has bigger feet and he was worried he might ruin them.”
The OP’s stepson was determined to have them.
“Jake wanted to wear the sneakers in front of his friends, but Chris didn’t let him leave the house with them.”
“Jake ended up sneaking out with them a couple of times, which made Chris hide them from him, since he kept taking them without permission.”
“Jake was no longer able to sneak out wearing the sneakers and begged Chris to let him wear them out one last time to a party his friends had.”
Jake decided if he couldn’t have them, no one could.
“Chris said no and Jake somehow was able to locate the sneakers.”
“But instead of going out with them, he cut them with hand pruners and kept them in his room while Chris and I looked for them until his mom found them.”
“Chris saw the damage and was upset.”
The OP decided to punish Jake.
“I grounded Jake and promised Chris to get a replacement, but when his mom called to tell me those sneakers are worth 600$ and had to be replaced, I was in utter shock.”
“I saw the receipt and even then, I couldn’t believe it, because 600$ is way more than I can afford (Chris’ mom is a cardiologist, she can afford this stuff, but I obviously can’t).”
“I was fuming. I let Jake know how much he messed up and told him I will be replacing the sneakers using the money he saved for his week-long summer camp.”
Not everyone agreed with the punishment.
“Jake had a meltdown and said he was already punished and it wasn’t fair to punish him further.”
“My wife thought I exaggerated and talked about how important summer camp is for Jake as he’s been waiting for it for months.”
“I let her know that Chris’ mom is rightfully upset her gift for him got ruined and because Jake acted out of spite and maliciousness, then it’s only fair he’d pay for a replacement.”
“My wife assured me if Jake knew those sneakers were that expensive, he would’ve never ever touched them but thought Chris wasn’t letting him borrow them on purpose.”
“What’s done is done and I made my decision final.”
“Both my wife and Jake are giving me the silent treatment and refusing to talk about it.”
“My wife thinks it’s crazy to spend 600$ on new sneakers.”
“I agree but those aren’t mine so needed replacement.”
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 the OP was absolutely NTA for his plan.
“I just want to say kudos to you for being an awesome co-parent. So many times we see people angry because Parent A makes more & Parent B cannot afford the same luxuries for the child.”
‘You acknowledge that she makes more than you and can afford things you can’t and that’s okay. But also, you’re not saying that she has more money and it won’t hurt her to replace them. Which is awesome and level-headed.”
“NTA, obviously. Jake knew exactly how much those sneakers cost, which is why he wanted them so badly. He’s 17, not 7. You’re teaching him that actions have consequences. I am sorry that it is affecting your relationship with your wife.” – AgentDora
“I also find it concerning that it was the 16-year-old that had to make sure he didn’t steal his own trainers & stop him misbehaving, rather than either of his parents.”
“The post makes me think they have let Jake get away with too much without stopping him, which is why he’s so surprised at actually facing consequences.”
“Giving OP the benefit of the doubt, their wife sounds like a poor or downright neglectful parent. They should be desperately trying to course-correct before he is out in the world on his own.” – Buffy_Geek
“OP, this kind of thing makes bio kids hate their ‘new’ family. You did the right thing sticking up for your son and wanting consequences for this.”
“Had you sided with your wife and stepson you would have definitely injured your relationship with your son and co-parenting relationship with your ex.”
“If they (stepson and wife) try to say your choosing sides/choosing ex-wife, say that you aren’t choosing sides; you’re choosing what’s right and THEY are the ones trying to make you choose sides.”
“Actions have consequences and you don’t get to hurt someone and get away with it just because they are family.”
“It doesn’t matter if someone steals a designer bag or a chocolate bar, it’s still theft and will be charged as such. Same with the price of the shoes. It doesn’t matter the cost, the damage was still done and now your stepson has to pay to make up for it.”
“I would get your son something to store his valuable gifts from his mother in and get a lock for his door if he doesn’t have one already. That way he can keep his s**t safe from his stepbro because I bet he will retaliate out of spite if he is this petty.”
“Protect your son because it looks like your the only one willing to protect him in that household.” – TheoryAddict
Others said Jake had a lot to learn before becoming an adult.
“Honestly if you guys for some reason did not replace the sneakers (or at least the monetary value of them), I would be surprised if your ex doesn’t call the police and/or sue. You may not even have a choice in this matter.”
“If nobody is telling Jake and his mom that avoiding repayment could end up with criminal charges or legal fees, that’s probably something they should hear.”
“And they will probably say things about how unfair ex is being, but it absolutely is fair. Can you ask to borrow somebody’s car and then throw a rock through the window when they say no? Of course not.”
“They’ll also probably say you’re favoring your kid over your stepkid. But that’s what they’re doing. Objectively, Jake is in the wrong, and if you don’t back Chris when he is being abused, you jeopardize your future relationship with him.” – rbollige
“I’m sorry, OP, but is this common behavior for jake? Does he have any special considerations that we should be taking into account? I ask because I had to reread his age multiple times to confirm it said 17 and not 7.”
“If not… what in the h**l is going on here??? He is very nearly a legal adult behaving like an actual toddler. Also what kind of camp is he going to?? At 17 most people are camp counselors not going to camps their parents are paying for that seemingly costs well over $600.”
“This kid (nearly adult man) is well beyond spoiled and doesn’t seem to have any concept of boundaries, respect, or self-control, and your wife’s behavior perfectly illustrates how he became that way.”
“‘He wouldn’t have done it if he knew they were expensive!’ is a bats**t insane response. The cost has nothing to do with it, it’s the fact that he destroyed someone else’s property because he couldn’t have it.”
“Do you know what will happen if he does that next year? He will be ARRESTED. Like an ADULT. For stealing and destroying someone else’s property.”
“He needs some real parenting, boundaries, and responsibility real quick if he is going to enter the adult world in a year as not an incredible AH. You know what he won’t survive with that kind of attitude? College. And if he’s not going to college, you can bet your a** no job is going to put up with that crap.”
“If your wife doesn’t want to see him in jail because she created an entitled a**, she needs to pull her s**t together right now and be an actual parent.” – shapiro18
“Jake is the AH, and frankly, is acting a lot like a sociopath with the whole ‘cut up the shoes with garden shears’ bit. His mother is to blame 1000% for coddling him and shielding him from consequences.”
“I’d be rethinking this entire marriage. You may think the problem will be solved soon, because he’s 17.”
“Think again. Be prepared to support her poor, misunderstood, precious baby on and off again for his entire selfish, sneaky, entitled, anger management issue denying life.”
“And count on Chris either choosing to limit his time with you because of the sh## show you live in.” – susan685
“You are soooo NTA! Your stepson intentionally sought out, destroyed and then hid the property of another.”
“He knew what he was doing was wrong and he didn’t care one bit. He needs to pay to replace it.”
“Now he wants to cry and whine because he will be missing summer camp. Also your wife enabling his behavior is not helping at all. Good luck sir.” – jesterubue741
“NTA To be honest, Jake is turning out to be quite the brat and your wife is enabling him. I’m sure there are kids at his school with wealthy parents.”
“Does he also feel entitled to their things? He’s going to have a rude awakening when he realizes there will be people in life that have things he doesn’t and may never be able to have.”
“He deserves to miss out for essentially throwing a jealous tantrum and destroying someone else’s property.” – Wheredounicornsgo
Some also were sure Jake already knew the value of the sneakers.
“Of course he knew how much they cost! He purposely destroyed them, so he has to buy replacements. Maybe he will think about it next time before doing something so malicious.”
“He literally STOLE the sneakers and destroyed them. Tell him he can either replace them or you will take Chris to the police station and have him press charges against him, theft and destruction of property (USA) or equivalent in your country.”
“If his mother doesn’t like it, she can pony up the money for the shoes.”
“NTA” – Evil_Mel
“Absolutely he did! He recognized the sneakers out of the box as a prestige item. He wasn’t searching the house and hurting his feet to be seen in $60 shoes.”
“He’s a sneakerhead. He knew the exact value of what he destroyed.”
“Your punishment is entirely fair.”
“NTA” – mouse_attack
“NTA obviously your stepson is, as HE KNEW the value of the shoes, repeatedly lied and destroyed property out of spite.”
“Next time it could be medication, school work, laptops, or even physical violence. Anything goes if it’s not addressed.”
“Also, your wife is TA, she’s expecting your ex to contribute for HER child and she sounds super jealous. She’s raising an entitled brat who throws fits like a toddler.”
“If she’s so concerned about her little boy’s camp, she can come up with the 600. She may even have allowed him to repeatedly ‘borrow’ the shoes and undermined your authority. There is more to address than a pair of sneakers.” – MamaBear79
The family may have wanted the OP to lighten the punishment, but the subReddit thought it was just right. Not only were the sneakers expensive, but the behavior was malicious, and such behavior simply would not do when Jake tried to function as an adult.