Whenever we get to spend a loved one’s birthday with them, we always want to make it special.
When tragedy has recently struck, that would be especially true.
But it may not always be as simple as all that, according to the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor BarracudaUpstairs had to come to terms with this after she took her teenage niece out shopping for her birthday.
But when she was later criticized for her actions, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if she had overstepped.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for buying my 13-year-old niece a bra?”
The OP’s niece came for a weekend visit for her birthday.
“Father’s day weekend, my (36 [female]) niece (13 [female]) came to stay with me for her birthday.”
“She lives with my brother and his fiancé.”
“My niece’s relationship with my brother’s fiancé is odd. My future SIL is nice and takes care of my niece like she is her own, but doesn’t really relate to her.”
“My niece likes anime and comics and is sarcastic with a dry wit. Also my niece feels awkward around my future SIL because they are so different.”
“She likes our house because it’s quiet, and she can watch anime and talk about comics with my husband.”
“Also, my mother was living with us to help us take care of our newborn twins, so she would get to spend time with everyone.”
“My niece and I are very close, and she recently lost her birth mother.”
“She isn’t the type of kid that cries, but she was having spells of being really moody after the funeral.”
“We wanted to make sure she had a fun, stress-free birthday.”
The OP took her niece shopping for her birthday and some necessities she forgot.
“So here’s what happened… She got a ton of birthday money and wanted to go shopping, so I wanted to take her.”
“I needed to go to the mall anyway to get my husband’s father’s day gift so we made it a whole afternoon trip to the mall with my 15-year-old son and my newborn son.”
“While we were getting ready for the mall, my niece told me that she only had the sports bra she was wearing (which she had been wearing for 9 days straight) and no underwear.”
“I told her ok, we will stop by the VS PINK in the mall and get her what she needs.”
“Since I had one of my twins with me, getting everything from one place made it easier for everyone.”
“I got her 2 plain cotton bras and 5 pairs of underwear (no thongs or cheekies, no red or black, just regular-cut panties in pastel colors).”
“When we got home, my mother, her Nana, who is very conservative, approved of everything we purchased.”
“I didn’t think about this again.”
But the OP was in for a surprise.
“Two weeks later, I get a message from my brother’s soon-to-be wife.”
“She felt hurt and disrespected that I took my niece to get a bra.
She said that buying a bra is a mother-and-daughter experience that I ruined for her.”
“She went on to say that Victoria’s Secret is an inappropriate place to buy underwear for a 13-year-old.”
“I was totally caught off-guard.”
The OP and her future sister-in-law couldn’t see eye-to-eye.
“We ended up arguing about it and eventually just agreed to disagree.”
“Her point of view is that as her ‘mom,’ she should have bought her first bra (didn’t know it was her first bra) and that Victoria’s Secret is inappropriate.”
“My point of view is that she is my niece and she needed these items, so I got them.”
“I took her to VS PINK which is designed for younger girls between 12 and 24.”
“So am I the a**hole for taking her to get a bra at VS PINK?”
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 were convinced about the logistics of a “first bra.”
“If she’s got plenty of bras, how is this ‘shopping for her first bra’?”
“She’s contradicting herself because she’s lying. She’s feeling embarrassed that she didn’t make sure a 13-year-old had enough appropriate underwear and feels called out because you did the job for her, so is lashing out at you now.”
“You absolutely did the right thing for your niece and I’m sure she’s glad she has you to help her.” – HelloAll-GoodbyeAll
“They (sports bras) count, they are bras. She is splitting hairs. She is the one sexualizing your niece, not you. If she wanted black ones, it would be easier to hide period stains (if and when that happens).”
“There is nothing wrong with a 13-year-old picking out underwear that she likes, whether they are lace, string, thighs, or full. It is about comfort and if lace undies make a 13 year feel more confident or pretty, they should be allowed to wear them.”
“Confidence on the inside shows on the outside.” – holisarcasm
“If she said they have enough ‘bras,’ that’s what they have. Also, she’s just arguing about semantics. You are not responsible for not knowing these things.”
“And she needs to work on her relationship with her herself. Blaming others for accidentally ‘taking experiences’ is just not a good look. I dislike stepparents that get huffy about these things.”
“She is allowed to be sad about it. But taking it out on other people is counterproductive. Does she think yelling at you or pushing you away is going to help her with a girl that loves you?”
“She needs to do the work, and actually should seek your help in building the relationship, as you are already successful.” – agreensandcastle
Others were concerned about the quality of the niece’s relationship with her future stepmom.
“I have no experience of blended families, but yes, it sounds like the stepmom is trying to force a relationship.”
“13 is old enough for a child to express her preferences. I remember bra-shopping for the first time. I’d have hated to go with someone I didn’t trust!” – Pleasant-Koala147
“Her stepmom seems awfully concerned about her own feelings, and not really her stepdaughter’s. She wants to go bra shopping. So they are going bra shopping whether OP’s niece wants to or not. Trying to force a bond is such a great way to start a blended family…” – MaybeIwasana**hole
“The girl is grieving the fresh loss of her mother and the not-yet-step-mother calling herself ‘mom’ and insisting on ‘mother-daughter’ activities is absolutely about to nuke any chance of a relationship with the girl.”
“I wouldn’t say it to not-yet-stepmother’s face, but something needs to be said to the girl’s dad before this woman causes damage that can’t be fixed.” – sheath2
The subReddit worked hard to puzzle this particular incident out, and the general consensus was that the stepmom’s concerns stemmed from her hopefully budding relationship with her future stepdaughter.
She was likely in the stage of wondering if her stepdaughter would accept her the way she had already accepted her aunt, the subReddit agreed, but she chose less-than-savory ways of letting that show.