When it comes to family, terminology can be a tricky and difficult issue.
When children are all but raised by a step-parent, they might make it easier for others and simply refer to the step-parent in question as their mother or father.
Though other times, people might wish to be abundantly clear that someone is their step-parent or step-sibling, so as not to give any impression that they are a blood relation to said individual.
Things were a bit more complicated for Redditor feelbadami, who after the death of their parents became the legal guardian of their young sister.
When the original poster (OP) heard how their wife referred to their sister when talking to others, they were not at all pleased, and weren’t afraid to say so to their wife.
Concerned they might have overreacted, the OP took to the subReddit “Would I Be The A**hole” (WIBTA), where they asked fellow Redditors:
“WIBTA for saying that my wife cannot refer to my sister as her daughter?”
The OP explained that while they were happy how well their young sister and wife got along, they wished that their wife wouldn’t refer to their sister as she did.
“I’ve been my sister, Lilly’s, primary caregiver since she was 4 and our parents passed.”
“She’s 10 now.”
“My wife, Kate, and I have been together for 5 years and she’s been in my sister’s life for the past 3.5-4 years.”
“Lilly absolutely loves her and even prefers to talk about some of her problems with my wife so it’s not an issue between them or anything.”
“Anyways, recently Kate has referred to Lilly as her daughter in public situations, and that makes me kinda uncomfortable.”
“Like at a soccer game she’ll say ‘oh Lilly is mine’, or at a store she’ll be like ‘my daughter is size x can you help us?'”
“She says that she doesn’t want to always explain our family history to every random stranger and people tend to ask questions about why she seems to have custody over her sister-in-law if she introduces Lilly as that.”
“My wife has recently said some time in the future and after us discussing it with Lilly she’d like to be added as Lilly’s second guardian so she’d get custody if anything happened to me, so maybe that’s where this is coming from?”
“This kind of rubs me the wrong way.”
“On the one hand it’s awesome they get along so great and my wife loves my sister!”
“On the other hand it feels kinda subtly disrespectful to my parents?”
“WIBTA for asking that she call Lilly her sister in law, not her daughter?”
“I’ve asked Lilly if it bothers her before.”
“She doesn’t really care.”
“She says that Kate and I are basically like her parents anyways and that’s how she thinks of us.”
“Pretty much it makes her happy that Kate thinks of her that way too and refers to her as such.”
“I’m the one who has the issue with it.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation by declaring:
- NTA – Not the A**hole
- YTA – You’re the A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everybody Sucks Here
While the Reddit community was fairly divided on whether or not the OP was the a**hole, generally everyone agreed that they overreacted to their wife occasionally referring to his sister as their daughter, and that she was definitely not being disrespectful to his late parents.
Many felt that as long as it didn’t make Lilly uncomfortable, they didn’t see much of a problem with the OP’s wife calling her her daughter, even if they could understand the OP’s hesitations.
“I raised my husband’s kids from his first marriage.”
“I found that explaining I was a custodial step-mom invited a lot of intrusive conversations, questions and judgements that could sour any school event, trip to the grocery store or whatever because hearing stuff like ‘oh is their real mom on drugs?’ in front of my kids, no less, was a real downer for all of us.”
“Your sister is so lucky to have such a concerned parent figure in you, but also you have found a wife that lives and enjoys raising your sister.”
“Listen, you did come with a bonus person.”
“That’s an incredible opportunity for everyone and the fact that it seems to be working for everyone should be celebrated.”
“My sons are just that, my sons.”
“They are adults now and they have always been the ones who get to say what they call me and how they define our relationship.”
“They use my first name to get my attention but call me mom to everyone else.”
“It’s weird but it works for us.”
“But for the administrative ladies at the school office or the neighbors we never interact with, maybe that’s when a cursory explanation is a good alternative.”
“Otherwise it is like opening a wound every single time you meet a new person.”
“Hi I am Lily, nice to meet you, also I lost my parents at an early age and was raised by my brother and his wife.”
“That’s obviously extreme and absurd, but it is kind of what you want your wife to do.”
“Maybe ask Lily?”
“My oldest son was that age when I became the mother figure legally by marrying his dad, but I had been around for 5 years.”
“I put him and his brother in charge of when we would tell people I was just a step mom legally and how they would introduce me.”
“Definitely a time to let these ladies define their relationship.”
“How does/do you prefer your sister to refer to you?”- not_your-momma
“How does your sister feel about it?”
“IMO that’s the only person who’s opinion matters in this.”- HogwartsAlumni25
“It should be up to Lilly whether she sees her as a mom or not.”- Dung_Diviner
I would say for you to ask Lilly what she wants and what she prefers.
“My brother was 14 when our Dad passed and my husband and I had custody of my brother.”
“My brother just called my husband, his brother.”
“But he also had my Dad for 14 years of his life.”
“So our situation is a little different.”- Savage_EMT
“You said your sister is 10.”
“Ask her what she would like your wife to call their relationship in public.”
“She is old enough to say if she wants to be known as to others.”- needabook55
“Your wife is right in that referring to her as her daughter will keep her from having to explain things that aren’t other people’s business.”
“Does Lilly have a problem with this?”- uninitiatedastronaut
“Ok, let’s just calmly sit and discuss about this.”
“For starters, you are not an a**hole and until proven otherwise neither is your wife.”
“You have always cared for your sister, so it’s only natural that you are ‘protective’ towards her and that you might feel your wife’s behavior as a sort of menace.”
“But consider this: your wife surely loves your sister and it’s not unlikely, in fact her proposition about the custody matter goes in that direction, that she even feels a bit like she is a ‘second mother’ for her.”
“About this, please take a moment to think about how your wife justifies what she is doing.”
“She is not wrong when she says that people tend to ask inappropriate questions, and never forget that those questions could really upset your sister and lead to some very uncomfortable discussion.”
“I think you and your wife should really keep on discussing about this issue, because together you can go to the bottom of your discomfort and come to a better understanding of the dynamics of the situation.”- CandiesAintMe
Others, however, were less sympathetic, owing to the fact that the OP seemed to ignore the fact that their wife was more or less a mother figure to Lilly.
“What you think doesn’t really matter.”
“What’s important here is what Lilly thinks and wants…”
“You and your wife are Lilly’s parents.”
“You’re raising her.”
“You make decisions for her and you have legal authority to do so.”
“The only difference with most of Lilly’s friends is that she had another set of parents before.”
“They loved her.”
“You and your wife love her.”
“They can still be her parents, have a special place in her life, while you and your wife have your place in Lilly’s life.”
“You are NOT erasing your parents’s memories and roles by becoming Lilly’s parents.”
“And your wife should already be a guardian for her.”- Primary-Criticism929
“Let Lily develop a bond with her mother figure, and for goodness sake please make sure your wife has the legal right to Lily if something happens to you.”
“This is about what’s best for Lily now, even when it stings.”
“Thank you for taking care of her.”- CoastalCerulean
“Why should strangers get the nitty gritty of the tragedy?”
“She’s helping raise her, loves her and provides support?”
“WHO CARES what strangers think?”
“The fact you are raising such a fuss to let everyone know how little Kate matters rather keep the family business private says so much about you.”- Notdoingitanymore
One imagines that having to raise their young sister might make grieving the loss of their parents even more difficult than it already is for the OP.
Possibly explaining their hesitancy in hearing their wife refer to Lilly as her daughter.
Hopefully, the OP will see it is only a sign for how much their wife love’s Lilly, and how Lilly not being bothered by it shows how much she loves their wife in return.