When becoming romantically involved with people who have children from previous relationships, navigating a relationship with those children poses several challenges.
For one thing, you will want the children to like you, so you don’t want to be too hard on them, yet you also don’t want to be too lax when it comes to discipline.
Then, of course, there is the fear of going against the parenting policies of your partner’s ex-spouse, making sure that you don’t undermine them, let alone make it seem that you are trying to replace them.
This might not be an issue if you get along with your partner’s ex, but not everyone is so lucky,
Redditor blank_plans found herself in a rather sticky situation while looking after the daughters of her current partner.
While the original poster (OP) thought she came up with a solution that happily solved all the problems, her partner’s ex-wife was much less happy.
So much so that she even threatened to change the current custody agreement.
Worried that she was responsible for causing this drama, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole (AITA), where she asked fellow Redditors:
“AITA for making my partner’s daughter use my period underwear?”
The OP explained how her problem-solving tactics ended up getting both her and her partner in hot water with his ex-wife:
“My partner and I live together, and his daughters ‘Leah’ (11 F[emale]) and “Rachel” (8 F) were staying with us.”
“It was school holidays a few weeks ago in our country.”
“I work from home, so the girls were with me during the day.”
“During the school holidays, Leah got her first period.”
“But the problem was, we didn’t have pads at home.”
“We have tampons for guests, and I use a menstrual cup/period underwear.”
“I didn’t think getting Leah to use tampons right away was a good idea.”
“It was her first period, she’s still young, and I also felt like it would be overstepping if I taught Leah how to use a tampon without permission from her parents.”
“My partner was in a meeting, so his phone was on do not disturb, and he didn’t see my call/message until a few hours later.”
“I don’t have their mum’s contact.”
“This led to another problem.”
“In our country, you can’t leave kids alone until they’re 14.”
“I don’t have a car, and I don’t feel comfortable taking the two kids anywhere on public transport without their parents being aware (especially when one of them bled through her pants).”
“In that situation.”
“I decided to let Leah use my period underwear.”
“It was a little big for her, but it was thoroughly cleaned and dried.”
“Not sure if it’s relevant, but I’ve only used the underwear once.”
“I’m on birth control and get my period less than once a year.”
“I thought this was the best solution until my partner picked up some pads on his way home.”
“Aside from assuring Leah that the bleeding was normal, I waited for my partner to get home and discussed with his ex-wife how to give Leah ‘the period talk.'”
“My partner has no issues with how I handled it, but his ex-wife, on the other hand, did not react well at all.”
“She said I treated Leah like a ‘second-class citizen’ because I gave her my used underwear, and she wants to change the current custody arrangement (from 50/50 to 90/10) because my presence would harm the girls.”
“She also said the fact that we didn’t keep pads at home shows that we are unequipped to parent the girls.”
“My partner has my back – he said he would have done exactly what I did and continues to defend me.”
“But I see that he is heartbroken. His ex-wife has engaged her lawyer (and he’s engaged his lawyer too), but he is scared that he will lose custody of his daughters or that this would affect his relationship with his daughters.”
“Open to your thoughts; I would like to learn from this so I can be a better step-parent figure to the girls.”
“But was I the a**hole? Was giving Leah my underwear inappropriate?”
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
The Reddit community unanimously agreed that the OP was not the a**hole for giving her partner’s daughter her used period underwear.
Everyone agreed that the OP was only thinking of the best interests of the girl and that her partner’s ex should be thanking her, rather than punishing her.
“No judge in their right mind is going to award custody over poor planning for a girl’s first period.”
“More than likely, the judge will think that was a brilliant solution.”
“You don’t mention Leah feeling bad about any of this, so I assume she had no issue.”
“The ex is using this situation as a power grab and is likely to fail.”
“They were clean, and they were your only option at the time.”
“What else were you supposed to do?”
“Let her keep bleeding through her clothes until your partner got home?”
“You did the right thing.”
“Your partner supports you and agrees you did the right thing.”
“Honestly, it just sounds like the ex has been waiting for a reason to change the custody agreement to screw over her ex/your partner, so is blowing this out of proportion.”- Aethermist88
“If anything, you overthought this, which just shows me how responsible and caring you are.”
“If all step-parents were like you, earth would be a better place.”- LowBalance4404
“I cannot imagine anyone ruling in her favor.”
“I mean, if she was so much more caring and responsible, why hadn’t she supplied her daughters with an emergency pad or two in their bags?”
“It could have happened in school.”
“Would she have then pulled her daughter out of the school if she didn’t approve of the brand they supplied her?”
“Or worse still, between school and home on public transport, would she have banned them from ever traveling on public transport again?”- claritybeginshere
“The other option was stuffing TP in her undies until Dad got home.”
“We’ve all been there, not fun.”
“If you’re in the US, no judge would entertain a custody change over this.”
“Snidely, maybe mom is ‘unequipped’ to parent the girls if she hasn’t had the period talk yet with her ELEVEN-year-old daughter!”
“Some girls get a period at age 9! I think you did the best you could given the circumstances (I’m also a stepmom and had to handle the first period with my stepdaughter).”- TooYoungForDisco
The OP later returned with an update, thanking everyone who took the time to comment and offering a little more clarity on her relationship with her partner’s ex-wife:
“Thank you everyone for your feedback!”
“I woke up to hundreds of new comments.”
“I read them this morning but won’t be able to respond to each one.”
“Lots of you asked why I don’t have the ex’s number.”
“There’s only been a handful of times my partner left the girls alone with me.”
“The girls don’t live in our house – partner and ex rent house just for the girls, and they switch living at the girls’ house every week.”
“The girls were here because I can look after them during school holidays (instead of sending them to holiday club, etc).”
“It’s just never occurred to us I might need to contact the ex directly.”
“The ex and I also never got along because there’s a big age gap between me and my partner.”
“I met my partner in my mid-20s (he was in his late 30s), and it’s been a few years, but the ex still isn’t comfortable with the age gap.”
“She called me a gold digger, broke a paper mache bedside table I spent a month making for the girls, broke my violin strings the day of a concert I was performing at (all within the first month of meeting me).”
“It got better for a while. We were cordial and respectful in front of the kids.”
“But after an incident I mentioned in the comments, it declined again.”
“If I wore a hoodie at home, for example, she’d ask my partner, ‘are you sure she’s old enough to take care of our girls?'”
“I’ve always kept my distance.”
“But I think the age gap is potentially what has made her wanted full custody the whole time.”
Admittedly, the sound of “used period underwear” doesn’t exactly sound hygienic and could be cause for concern.
That being said, the OP was working under a rather emergent situation and seemed to solve the problem as best she could.
Hopefully, the ex-wife of the OP’s partner will eventually see that the OP genuinely cares for the health and safety of her two daughters and will come to accept that whether she likes it or not, she will be a major figure in their lives for some time to come.