There’s an old saying, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”
That can be applied to things other than food, too, like birthday party expenses, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Series_Conscious had struggled to create a meaningful relationship with his stepdaughter since he married his wife, to the point that she did not talk to him and actively excluded him.
But when her birthday came around, the Original Poster (OP) was surprised when his stepdaughter demanded that he pay for an expensive birthday dinner, even though she didn’t want him to attend.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for not paying for my stepdaughter’s birthday dinner?”
The OP had unequal relationships with his stepchildren.
“My wife has three kids: two sons (20 Male and 19 Male) and a daughter (16 Female) from her previous marriage.”
“Their father was an addict but is now clean. He doesn’t have custody of ‘S,’ but does visit when he can.”
“My stepsons and I aren’t close, but they’ve been respectful to me at least. My stepdaughter, who I’ll call ‘S,’ has not.”
“She genuinely doesn’t like me. She refuses to talk to me, she doesn’t want me attending her shows, and she doesn’t accept any gifts I have given her, usually giving them away or tossing them in the trash.”
“She doesn’t listen to me if I am the one enforcing rules when she is grounded, it has to be her mom who puts her foot down.”
The OP’s stepdaughter still wanted a particular gift for her birthday, however.
“Her birthday was last week, and she had exams that day.”
“My wife wanted her birthday to be extra special, because she was turning 16, and had good grades. S wanted to go to an expensive restaurant with her family.”
“I was not allowed to come according to her, but she wanted me to give her mom the money to pay for it.”
“I told her I would not pay.”
“She got upset and told me it was the least I could do and how she asks for so little.”
“But I stood my ground.”
There were repercussions after her birthday.
“Her mom took her to a less expensive restaurant.”
“S is upset with me, her granddad is also upset with me, telling me I should’ve paid, and that it was her 16th birthday that I ruined.”
“My wife is on my side and says there’s no winning with her.”
“I know how important becoming 16 is, and I feel bad for not getting her a gift at all.”
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 pointed out the OP didn’t need to foot the bill for something he wasn’t invited to.
“If you’re not good enough to be there, neither is your money.”
“Stepdaughter needs to get a reality check. If Grandpa wants her to have a fancy, expensive dinner, he can fork out for it himself. Or maybe he can go ask your stepdaughter’s actual dad, to foot the bill.”
“If you’re not being treated as family, there’s no reason for you to spend your money. You’re not starving the kid, you’re just not giving her a fancy birthday.” – LadyBladeWarAngel
“NTA. She may be only 16 but that’s not too young to learn basic respect.”
“She can’t treat you like dirt and expect you to bend over backward and make her birthday special. Sounds like she’s mad at the world and is taking it out on you. Hope she grows up a bit and sees reason.” – IamIrene
“NTA. She wants to disrespect you and openly exclude you from her life while simultaneously expecting you to fund her birthday? She sounds insufferable.” – alter_ego624
“NTA. The audacity to ask you to pay but not come to her expensive birthday dinner is astounding.”
“I don’t think you’re TAH for not getting her another gift. Why would you give her a physical gift anyway, knowing that she would likely just throw it away?” – NotCreativeAtAll16
“Good luck to S if she thinks getting OP to pay for college is going to happen.”
“I’m no psychic, but I can see that issue arising in the near future.” – sir_are_a_Baboon_too
“She doesn’t want anything from you but is WILLING to take your money to pay for an expensive restaurant for her birthday.”
“After this, it will be a car and then a college fund.” – SuperHuckleberry125
Others agreed and pointed out S was creating the relationship with how she treated the OP.
“NTA. You ruined nothing.”
“S wants things her family can’t afford. That’s life.”
“She has made it incredibly clear that you are not her family and that she wants nothing from you. Wish granted.”
“And ’16’ is an anniversary of being born, not an accomplishment.”
“S needs to decide what kind of relationship she wants with you, but as long as she is not at least being cordial, she gets no extras.” – ComputerCrafty4781
“You can dislike your parents’ new spouses as much as you want/they deserve, but you can’t expect them to spend their money on you if you’ve made it clear you hate them.”
“She’s young and stupid at her age, like all teenagers. I have sympathy to an extent because I’ve experienced how tough blended families can be for a kid, but if she rejects him totally, she can’t expect him to pay.”
“If it takes this to realize that maybe she should be nicer to stepdad if only because he’s the one with the money in the house, then it’s a lesson learned, though I doubt she will if the grandfather is backing her up.”
“Don’t get suckered into paying for college though.” – Strawberry338338
“NTA, I think the wife needs to be the one who solves this.”
“She needs to straight up tell her she can’t be an a**hole then expect non-essential kindness. Not from strangers, not from friends, not from family. You get what you give, and if you want to give a turd, then you get one.”
“She also needs to have the, ‘Your stepdad isn’t the reason I’m not with your dad, so hating him doesn’t actually accomplish anything but make you bitter,’ conversation. It’s pretty evident that they haven’t, and probably not any counseling of any kind either.”
“OP, if you see this, this is your wife’s responsibility. You trying to solve it will make it worse.” – Grimwohl
“S like many teenagers is acting like a defiant child. No doubt this may be in part due to resentment at her family situation, which has to be tough.”
“That said, if S wants to have no relationship with you, and will openly disrespect you, not paying for a meal you weren’t invited to is the logical consequence of that. I’m glad your wife is on your side, but it does make me wonder what more she could do as S’s mom to curb this outrageous behavior.” – Independent-Length54
“NTA. Every time I hear about a situation in which a kid hates or dislikes the parent, a line from breaking bad comes to mind: ‘A man provides. And he does it even when he’s not appreciated, or respected, or even loved. He simply bears up and he does it. Because he’s a man.'”
“While I agree with the basic premise, I also believe kids should learn respect and that there are consequences if the proper respect isn’t given. Sure, you may still buy her the essentials like food, clothes, shoes, etc. but disrespect like that can be punished by not providing her with an allowance, time to go out with friends, cell phone use in the house, etc.”
“Your stepdaughter has with all due respect s**tty behavior. She’s 16, sure, it’s her birthday, but that doesn’t absolve her from being a spoiled brat. She requests money to have dinner at some expensive restaurant and refuses to have you at the dinner. What kind of logic is that?”
“Sorry, but your wife may be the a**hole for letting it get to this point. Allowing her kid to disrespect you to this level is insane to me. The reason why I say the wife may be the a**hole here is that there’s plenty of AITA stories in which the parent of the stepkid will be defensive of whether the stepparent gets to have a say in disciplining the kids.”
“The fact your wife doesn’t seem to mind or make any comments on her daughter’s behavior is baffling to me. You need to have a talk with your wife and your daughter.” – theshleepmaster
“NTA. I’m sure there are some complicated reasons behind your stepdaughter’s behavior, so I will grant her that. Maybe some outside counseling would help; she is clearly angry and I suspect the root of that anger does not originate with you.”
“That being said, her expecting to disrespect you and yet demand whatever she chooses from you is not okay. That’s not how the world works, not just in your family but anywhere. You were right in standing your ground and I am glad to hear your wife supported your decision.”
“Her grandfather needs to butt out; his failure to support you rather than support her selfish, unreasonable, and immature behavior helps nothing. Sadly, it’s always easier to blame a stepparent when something doesn’t suit. Basically, she decided how her 16th birthday would play out. She did have a choice and she made it.” – Realistic_Head4279
The subReddit could sympathize with the complicated situation that the OP’s stepdaughter might be going through, especially as a teenager, but how she was treating the OP wouldn’t improve her situation.
If anything, expecting the OP to do things for her while actively isolating him from her life would surely only make her situation worse in the future, especially with college coming around the corner.