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Teen Refuses To Bring Last Letter From Late Mom To Family Therapy To Appease His Stepmom

teen boy in therapy session
Phynart Studio/Getty Images

Losing a parent as a child is hard. Losing a parent then having to live with someone who hates that deceased parent is even harder.

A 16-year-old turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback over his conflict with his stepmother.

Former-Parking-649 asked:

“AITA for refusing to bring my letter from my mom to family therapy?”

The original poster (OP) explained:

“My parents broke up when I (16, male) was a few weeks old. They were never married and they were like 19/20 when they had me, so pretty young.”

“They didn’t get along so good, but they could be sorta civil to each other. It really depends on what was going on I think because sometimes they stayed away from each other.”

“When I was 6 my dad met my stepmother and they got married by the time I was 7. My mom and stepmother did not get along at all.”

“I remember feeling the tension between them. I remember hearing my stepmother grumble to dad about mom if I had to go to their house instead of home with mom after they had all been in the same place.”

“It was extra bad if they all showed up to my dance recitals. My stepmother wanted to be the one doing some of the dance stuff.”

“She used to tell my dad she didn’t think she’d have much in common with a young boy, but dance could be our thing and mom was hogging it by always being there. Mom was the person who signed me up for dance.”

“Dad wasn’t on board to back that. He’s a bit too macho dude for that.”

“My mom got sick when I was 8 and she died when I was 10. The worst part of that time was when she got too sick to take care of me and I had to live with my dad all the time. I don’t have relatives on my mom’s side.”

“I still saw my mom. But it wasn’t the same.”

“Before she died she wrote me a letter and told me to read it whenever I needed to feel close to her. She said she put all her love into that letter.”

“She also left me cards for milestones. My dad has them. He apparently keep them someplace nobody else knows about so they can’t be found before mom intended me to get them.”

“I hit the first milestone for a card which was turning 16 and dad gave me that one on my birthday. He also made sure I’d get some time alone if I wanted it which I did.”

“My mom’s original letter made my stepmother so angry, though. I never called my stepmother ‘mom’ or anything. I never call her my parent either. I know she technically is.”

“But I always disliked the idea of her being called that because she hated mom so much and felt like mom needed to step back from stuff to let her take over them (like dance).”

“My stepmother is pissed that my mom never mentioned her in the letter and that mom never asked me to let her (stepmother) in.”

“She’s really delusional and arrogant. She believes if mom was a good mom she would have told me to let stepmother in and let her take over the role of mom so I wouldn’t grow up without one. She wanted her to tell me she wanted me to accept another mom.”

“She felt like mom put up a final wall between us and made sure she would always be the outsider in my eyes and I would always long for my mom and reject her as a mother figure.”

“I know it bothers her that dad has a kid with someone else. Even more that I’m a boy she ‘could have bonded with easily’ because of dance and then I didn’t bond with her.”

“Our relationship is really tense while things with my dad are better than they were when I was younger. He got softer. So he said the three of us should go to therapy together to figure stuff out.”

“We do not have the same goal. My dad wants us all to get along and be closer, she wants me to accept her as a mother and I want to make it clear that after everything that won’t happen and the best I can ever pull off is being civil.”

“I never really liked her. Her attitude about mom was always really upsetting and frustrating for me and made me not want to get closer to her. She really blames mom for it all even though it was her own fault.”

“If I could, having a relationship with just dad and not her would be my ideal, but I know that’s not always so easy. I don’t get therapy with just the counselor, but I don’t really like this one, so I’m not sure I’d want one on one with them anyway.”

“After two months of therapy my stepmother wants the letter brought into sessions and the counselor feels like that’s a good idea and we should discuss the content of it since it’s such a point of tension.”

“But I don’t want my stepmother anywhere near it. I have it safe so she can’t try to burn it or something. She’s poison when it comes to my mom and I don’t want her to taint it.”

“The counselor told me it would only benefit us all. My stepmother got mad and said even a piece of paper is more important to me than she is.”

“We had two sessions since and I did not bring it. This made my stepmother’s anger worse.”


The OP summed up their situation.

“I refused to bring my letter from my mom to family therapy with my dad and stepmother.”

“My stepmother and the counselor both say I should bring it and that it will help, and even hearing that from the counselor, I still didn’t bring it to the two sessions after being asked.”

“I know that has kind of stalled things now, and so I could be an a**hole for that.”

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 the OP was not the a**hole (NTA).

“NTA. The contents of that letter are for you and you alone. Therapist be damned.”

“Your stepmother should stop deluding herself into thinking you will ever acknowledge her as your mother. Had she and your mother been on better terms, maybe it’d be a different story.” ~ DestronCommander

“I hate that your stepmother even felt entitled to read the letter in the first place because it was none of her business.”

“Furthermore, the fact that she has the nerve to be upset that she wasn’t spoken about favorably by the woman she hated in a PRIVATE correspondence to that woman’s child shows she is seriously detached from reality.”

“She’s not just an intrusive AH, but a delusional one. NTA. Continue to keep that letter safe.” ~ Fleurtheleast

“NTA and this therapist is not helping you. Do you ever get one-on-one time where you can explain yourself without your stepmother there?”

“If not, tell your dad that this therapy isn’t working for you and you won’t continue unless you get some individual therapy as well.” ~ Perfect-Map-8979

“Send them an email detailing why you won’t bring it. Tell the therapist that they need to focus on getting stepmom to move past it and accept she can’t change your feelings.”

“Bring it up at the next session, and if they don’t acknowledge/agree, sit down and shut your mouth. If the therapist won’t work for both of you, there’s no point interacting anymore.” ~ boxesofboxes

“What is the therapist thinking? If your patient is obsessed by what was said in a letter, your job is to get them to tolerate the uncomfortable feelings caused by the letter, and help them move through to acceptance.”

“It is not to get ahold of the letter and hope it tells the client whatever she needs to hear.”

“Also, like, at this point the therapist *has* to know that the stepmother thinks the mother should have officially ‘passed the mom torch’ in the letter. The therapist should be working with stepmom to understand all the million reasons *why* that didn’t happen and *why* it doesn’t have to set the tone for the rest of her relationship with her stepson.”

“This therapist is infuriatingly bad, I’m so sorry OP!”

“If I were you, I would send an email that says you will not be bringing your private correspondence to a session, that it is your final answer and not up for debate, and that you hope the therapist will respect your decision and tell your stepmother that avenue is closed.”

“If they continue to bring it up in a session, just ask challenging questions back to the therapist, like, ‘can you explain to me why you need to have the specific text to help my stepmom heal? Can you tell me how that is going to help her feelings of anger toward my mother? What would you be doing to help my stepmother if this letter had been burned in a housefire years ago? maybe you should do that then…’.”

“Or just say, ‘I have given you my answer, it is no, and if you bring it up again I will be leaving the session’.” ~ disappointmentcaftan

“It’s really a shame this counselor isn’t using this situation as a way to teach your father’s wife to respect your boundaries and is instead helping her to push them. You don’t owe anyone access to that letter. NTA.”

“If you don’t like the counselor, you can stop participating in the sessions, even if you have to be physically present. I know that when you are older, you can get a therapist who looks out for your interests and can help you sort through all of this.” ~ Kittenlovingsunshine

“So ask your dad to go to another therapist or you will stop participating. NTA.” ~ Organic_Start_420

Hopefully the OP can make themselves heard in family counseling.

If not, at least they only have two years left before they can say goodbye to their stepmother for good.

Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka Haudenosaunee and Metís Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. A member of the Indigenous Journalists Association, she considers herself another proud Maineiac.