Blending families after a divorce and remarriage can be a fraught situation for the children involved. And when those stepchildren don’t get along, it makes everything that much harder.
A woman on Reddit was in this situation with her stepdaughter, who not only doesn’t get along with her daughter but also trigger’s the daugher’s body image issues.
She wasn’t sure about how she was handling the situation, so she went to the AITA (Am I The A**hole) subReddit for perspective.
The Original Poster (OP), who goes by dbrifuh73 on the site, asked:
“AITA for not ‘protecting’ my daughter from my stepdaughter?”
“I (36F[emale]) have a beautiful daughter ‘Carissa’ (13F) and a beautiful stepdaughter ‘Brianna’ (14F). I married Brianna’s father ‘Joseph’ (39M[ale]) last year.”
“Now, my daughter Carissa and Brianna have a very strained relationship, but I believe most of the problems in their relationship are due to my daughter Carissa’s body insecurities.”
“To put it simply, Brianna’s body type is very small and petite and slim. Carissa is a bit taller than Brianna but also about 3 sizes larger than her (Carissa is still within a healthy weight range but Brianna is just very petite by comparison).”
“Unfortunately, Carissa has always struggled with her body image, and since living with her stepsister Brianna, Carissa seems to constantly compare herself to Brianna and this causes friction between the two girls.”
“Carissa sometimes lashes out and calls Brianna names that imply she’s too skinny (like skeleton b*tch) and in retaliation my stepdaughter Brianna calls Carissa ‘fat’. I tell both the girls off for this behaviour but it seems to be a reoccurring issue.”
“Carissa is in therapy for her body image, but she still gets upset when Brianna walks around in crop tops and dresses that Carissa feels like she couldn’t get away with wearing (I think she could certainly wear clothes like that, but her body insecurity issues makes her want to cover up and wear loose clothing instead).”
“A few days ago I was spending some quality time alone with Carissa and she confessed to me that living with Brianna has been MISERABLE for her. She admits she constantly compares herself negatively to Brianna and she thinks Brianna is hurting her mental health and making her body insecurities worse.”
“I listened to my daughter and asked if there was anything I could do to make things better?”
“To my shock, she said she wanted Brianna to leave and go live with her mother fulltime instead (My husband Joseph and Briannas mother have 50/50 split custody).”
“I told my daughter point blank that was an unreasonable and selfish request. I told her she needed to work on her body insecurities with her therapist, instead of pushing away her stepsister just because she’s skinnier.”
“My daughter immediately started crying and accused me of ‘not protecting’ her, and that Briannas presence in the household has made her life hell and everyday Brianna triggers her body insecurities and makes her feel gross and disgusting.”
“I don’t think it’s fair to ask for Brianna to go live with her mother full-time just for the sake of Carissa. I’ve tried a lot to help my daughter with her body insecurity issues (I pay for her therapist and I spend a lot of time and energy trying to boost her confidence etc) but nothing seems to work.”
“Its concerning me that she feels like I’m not protecting her as a mother. I know that Carissa and Brianna fight and Brianna sometimes calls her fat (which she gets punished for).”
“Am I really not doing enough to protect her?”
People on Reddit were then asked to judge who’s in the wrong in this conflict based on the following categories:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Most people were on OP’s side, but they also thought this situation was in dire need of intervention.
“But I would try another therapist, maybe a nutritionist to talk to your daughter to convince her that she is a healthy weight.” —Jendi2016
“Absolutely NTA. Carissa needs to learn that the existence of other people isn’t the universe’s comment on her.”
“But OP, YOU need to talk to Brianna and get her to stop reacting to Carissa’s insults. And you need to have another talk to Carissa about not body shaming Brianna (which is what she’s trying to do.) Maybe family therapy would help?” —usernaym44
“NTA at all, but you need to really make sure you crack down hard on any body shaming language that happens between the two of them.” —AsidK
“NTA – What your daughter is asking for is way too much. She wants to uproot the life of multiple people to feel better about herself. It’s highly unfair to your husband, the daughter, and the mother.”
“You are doing the right thing by getting her therapy. I don’t know what else you can do.” —Official_loli
“NTA, but this isn’t an issue that Reddit can solve for you. You need to talk to Carissa therapist and find out what suggestions they can give for how you help your daughter. I think telling her that her request was unreasonable was fine but I don’t think you should have called her selfish.”
“Your daughter shared with you that being around her stepsister is affecting her mental health. Yes her request was unreasonable but calling her selfish only ensures that she shuts down and stops talking to you.”
It seems like you are head for serious problems with your daughter that could lead to her developing an eating disorder or harming herself in other ways if she feels like there is no one there that is looking out for her. I really think you asking her therapist for the best ways to help in this situation is better than posting on reddit.” —Fickle-Willow4836
“NTA. Does your daughter think that thinner girls should be removed from her classes at school? Maybe they should not be allowed to attend the same school at all so as not to trigger her? Her request is ridiculous and selfish. Please ask her therapist for a family session” —babsiegirl70
Hopefully OP can find a way to get her daughter through this.