It can take a while before stepparents and stepchildren begin to feel like family to one another.
Largely owing to acceptance, or lack of acceptance, from one another.
Indeed, the only way blended families will begin to feel like they are, indeed, family is if they provide the same love to one another as if they were blood relations.
Redditor throwaway99101819 was planning on spending Christmas with his parents and bringing his wife and stepson along.
However, the original poster (OP) was shocked to learn that his mother was less than eager to include his stepson in one of her annual holiday traditions.
Leading the OP to question whether or not to change his family’s Christmas plans.
Wondering if he was overreacting, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA), where he asked fellow Redditors:
“AITA for skipping Christmas with my family because my mother doesn’t want my stepson to take part in a family tradition?”
The OP explained why his excitement to spend Christmas with his family dampened considerably after speaking with his mother on the phone:
“My (33 M[ale]) parents (64 F[emale],68M) own a country house, and there’s this tradition for every child in our family to plant a tree there.”
“I did it myself when I was five, and so did my brother and my sister and all my nephews and nieces.”
“I have a 6-year-old daughter with my ex-girlfriend.”
“My mother called me to ask if I’ll have my daughter for Christmas (we usually spend Christmas in the country house) because now she’s old enough to plant her tree.”
“I told her that my daughter will spend Christmas with her mother (I’ll see her a few days before going to the country house), but I also said that my stepson (7M) – my wife’s (36F) son from her first marriage – would be there.”
“My mother was silent for a moment and told me she didn’t consider having my stepson plant his own tree.”
“I was very offended by that.”
“It made clear that she doesn’t see him as part of our family.”
“She then said there’s no guarantee he’ll remain in our lives, which obviously implies she’s considering that my marriage to his mother may not last.”
“I told her if that’s how she feels, she should not expect us for Christmas this year.”
“Was I too harsh?”
“I wonder if I could be an AH because it’s her property, after all, and she does have the final say.”
The OP later returned to clarify some other information about his current family dynamic:
[The OP’s stepson’s] father and his paternal grandparents are present in his life, so he sees my parents as just that – my parents.”
“However, my parents saw him this past year more often than they saw my own daughter because my wife has full custody of her son, and he’s with us most of the time.”
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 – Everyone Sucks Here
While the Reddit community was somewhat divided, they generally agreed that the OP was not the a**hole for deciding to skip spending Christmas with his parents.
Most people agreed that the OP’s mother was insensitive, seeming unwilling to welcome the OP’s stepson into his family and clearly not having faith in his marriage.
“My son is technically my stepson.”
“His biological mother is not part of his life, and he considers me his mum.”
“If my family pulled a stunt like this, I would go low contact with them.”- MotherOfMoggies
“Rather than let a child plant a tree (which could be moved/cut down at a later date), your mother wants to exclude the child.”
“There is no guarantee anyone will remain in your life, but your mother is excluding a child because she doesn’t value your marriage.”- EquivalentTwo1
‘So…your mother wants less trees to be planted?”
“Or do all the trees get little plaques where she can point to each and know which blood relative planted which?”
“Why TF does she care if there’s an extra tree?”
“Oh, because your stepson isn’t ‘real’ family, and if, heaven forbid, you and your wife split, your mother would have to axe it down Joan Crawford-style.”
“He’s a SEVEN-YEAR-OLD who would be included in a cool and wholesome tradition.”
“Does she exclude him from getting a Christmas stocking?”
“Participating in the Easter egg hunt?”
“Your mother is an AH.”
“You shouldn’t go to the celebration.”
“Make your own traditions with your blended family.”
“And tell your wife what is going on.”
“She deserves to know where she and her son stand–as interlopers.”- SolarPerfume
There were a few who felt that the OP may have jumped to negative conclusions a little too quickly, somewhat understanding where his mother was coming from, with some even wondering if his stepson even wanted to plant a tree.
“Sounds like she assumed it wasn’t a thing.”
“She has gone through generations of this and, each time probably started thinking about it before a new kid’s birth.”
“And she probably was looking forward to it as the baby grew older.”
“You’ve skipped the initial steps.”
“You thought about it.”
“She might not have.”
“Has your stepchild been part of the family for 5+ years like you were?”
“Give grandma time, and she may come around.”
“Give her an ultimatum, and she won’t.”
“Gotta choose which path you want to take.”
“All these stories about blended family issues have one thing in common.”
“The newly married adults feel the commitment they made and assume that everyone is joining them in their commitment.”
“Instant, full acceptance is a fantasy full stop.”
“You don’t actually get to think for everyone else and when you insist that they must X, most people balk.”
“Maybe let people build relationships before you start with the ultimatums?”- rlrlrlrlrlr
“You went from 0-100 pretty quickly.”
“You mentioned in a reply that the child doesn’t view your folks as grandparents.”
“They are ‘your parents’.”
“Do your parents treat your stepson well, otherwise?”
“Maybe if a relationship grew over time, he could plant a tree further down the road.”
“However, right now, it sounds like he is your new stepson who already has grandparents.”
“Seems like an extreme reaction.”
“Ps: when I was your son’s age, my father remarried, and I got a new stepgrandmother.”
“She was never called my grandmother nor was I called her grandson.”
“She was nice, though.”
“Organically, over time, we grew closer.”
“We shared a lot in common.”
“I started to really like the lady.’
‘By the time she passed (twenty years later), we were very close.”- Frequent-Interest796
Others, however, felt that the OP was the a**hole in this situation, as he himself made it clear that his stepson doesn’t view his mother as his grandmother, so he didn’t merit being part of her family’s tradition.
“Unpopular opinion I know but she’s right.”
“If you divorce, which is always a possibility, as you well know since you are divorced from your daughter’s mother, they will most likely never see that child again.”
“I had no relationship with my step-grandparents, and my step siblings were treated with love and kindness but not as intimate relations, and they literally didn’t care.”
“I guess we just never expected such extended enmeshment a few decades ago.”- Purple_Turtle2
“You are not standing up for your stepson.”
“This is all about you and your dreams of a big, happy family.”
“You’re hurt and angry that your mother wasn’t playing the role you secretly assigned her.”
“You got even angrier, understandably so, when she was tactless and defensive in her response to your indignation.”
“It would be a beautiful thing if your stepson and mother developed a grandparent, grandchild relationship.”
“They have to want this.”
“You are not only trying to force two people into the relationship you want them to have, but it also has to proceed at your pace.”
“Your stepson is not remotely interested in your parents.”
“The tree planting means nothing to him.”
“You are pushing him and your mother into performing a ritual just to please you and your wife.”
“Let your stepson develop a relationship with your parents when he is ready at the pace he is comfortable with.”- KaleidoscopeGreat973
It is entirely possible that the OP was feeling a bit vulnerable about his stepson being accepted by his family and thus might have misconstrued what his mother meant.
However, if the OP’s mother did, indeed, state that she doesn’t know how long the OP’s stepson will be in their lives, it’s pretty hard not to understand what that means.
It seems that this is a situation that can only be solved by an open, civil conversation, which the OP will hopefully have before Christmas.