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Woman Balks After Estranged Mom Demands She Help Care For Abusive Stepdad And Their Kids

mother and daughter arguing
milorad kravic / Getty Images

The way we treat others can have long-lasting implications.

From whether they get your order right when grabbing lunch all the way up to whether they will help you in the future.

So, what happens when you’re the one deciding on whether or not to help someone who wasn’t always kind to you in the past?

That was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) Imogeemoore when she came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for judgment.

She asked:

“AITA for refusing to help my mom now that her husband is sick and throwing the past in her face when she pleaded with me?”

OP gave some background.

“My mom and I (25f) have a contentious relationship.”

“We have been mostly estranged for the last 7 years.”

“I say mostly because she has made some effort to stay in touch while I faded away.”

“My dad died when I was 4. Mom and him were not married but they were together.”

“She leaned heavily on my dad’s family for a couple of years. Then she moved us away so she could start a better life for us.”

Things got worse.

“After moving she met John and married him.”

“I was told, more than once, by John and my mom, that John was now my father and I was told to call him dad, refer to him as dad with others, and not to correct anyone who used the term dad/father.”

“I was to correct those who said he was my stepdad.”

“I didn’t want to do this but I was punished and John yelled at me multiple times for ‘disrespecting his love’ and I was berated and told he was stepping up to take me on as his daughter and the least I could do is to respect him as my father.”

“When my mom gave John children, it became very clear he never saw me as his.”

“I was treated differently.”

“I was not given the same anything. Yet the rules remained in place that I call John ‘dad’ and would get punished for any instance of not.”

“Mom always took his side, always backed him up, always agreed that he deserved some kind of respect for this stuff. I still have some bitterness over this.”

“I didn’t want John to be my father but at the very least if I’m going to be forced to address him as such and to correct people who spoke the truth, I felt like I should have been treated better at least.”

OP struck out on her own.

“But that didn’t happen and I moved out the day I turned 18 and stopped speaking to or seeing my mom and John.”

“She would reach out, sometimes I would read or listen to hear speak. But I felt good not having them around.”

Everything was fine, until…

“Now John has been diagnosed with a neurological condition, and my mom is caring for him.”

“She asked me to come and help her. To help him.”

“To help out their children.”

“I refused.”

“She told me she needed me, they needed me, and I’m their daughter. I told her I didn’t care, I wouldn’t help, and after everything they had done, they deserved nothing from me.”

“I told her she failed me as a mother, and as far as I was concerned, they were already dead and buried and nothing to do with me.”

“She said I was being unfair, holding onto the past too much and lacking in compassion.”

“She tried to tell me to think of the good times. I told her she failed me.”

“She forced me to say stuff I didn’t want to say as a kid in order to appease her husband, who didn’t treat me like his kid anyway.”

“A family friend reached out after the disagreement and told me I should be ashamed, and while they were imperfect back then, they are still my family, and I piled on a woman who is doing the hardest job imaginable (caring for a sick loved one).”

OP was left wondering,


Having explained the situation, OP turned to Reddit for judgment.

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors decided: NTA

Commenters did not sugar-coat it.

“Huge NTA”

“Your mom and stepdad both failed you as parents.”

“Both of them disrespected your memory of your father.”

“Your stepdad forcing you to call him something he wasn’t entitled to and didn’t live up to.”

“Your mom choosing him and his kids over you – I mean, the only parent you had left didn’t want to protect you.”

“Now she can live by her choice. And that family friend can help her if she is so concerned – because it turns out she is not your friend.”

“Children are dependent on the grown-ups. So when people don’t support their kids when they need it – they can’t expect to get support when they get older.”

“I wish you a great life and future. Did you ever reach out to your real father’s family?” ~ Ericwyss

“Tell your mom your compassion comes straight from her and your stepdad. They both taught you compassion in that family.”

“Tell the neighbor that they are free to go and help your mom as much as they think she deserves.”

“You don’t have to be a blood relative to volunteer to help.”

“I’d add that the hardest job imaginable is to be a child trapped in an abusive situation.” ~ BlazingSunflowerland

The family friend took some heat too.

“‘A family friend reached out after the disagreement and told me I should be ashamed, and while they were imperfect back then, they are still my family, and I piled on a woman who is doing the hardest job imaginable (caring for a sick loved one).'”

“Someone who this is none of their business and had no right to contact you about anything. You can feel free to disregard that person immediately.”

“Let’s be honest, even if they were the greatest parents ever, most people aren’t in a position to give up their lives and run back home, especially at 25, to take care of a full home.”

“She isn’t just asking for help. She is asking for major help.”

“Caretaking of an adult male and assistance with children of who knows what age. I would say NTA, even with a good relationship.”

“Your mom moved you away from your greater support system and then tossed you in with this dude, and they both tried to erase your dad.”

“John abused you and mistreated you for what sounds like the rest of your childhood.”

“You barely had a relationship with these people for seven years after that.”

“Of course, you’re not going there. Of course, you’re not going to wreck your life to help people that pulled all of this.”

“NTA.” ~ slendermanismydad

“Also that ‘friend’s'” comment of ‘imperfect back then,’ I’m not sure why it’s assumed they’re not still imperfect now.”

“Let’s look at only the currentish things, forget the past:”

“Mom reaches out but doesn’t sound like much and certainly not to do motherly things”

“Mom only reaches out with any kind of conviction when she needs help taking care of HER husband”

“Mom insults OP and berates her for not giving up her life to come care for him too.”

“Nope, she’s still an a*s without bringing the past up at all.”

“OP is NTA” ~ NataliasMaze

The past matters.

“NTA, they put you through hell, and they will again if they get the chance.”

“Time to get on with your life and save your sympathy and time for those who deserve it better.”

“They are just looking for a maid who they sure will feel guilty and make to work non-stop.”

“She wasn’t a mother to you, and I feel that you have so much resentment towards him.”

“Tell the family friend if they reach out that they are free to go care for John or to mind their own business as the so-called mom and John will try every trick in their book to make your life hellish again.”

“Embrace the life you have and move on. No need to feel guilty or even give a rat’s bottom about it.” ~ SPolowiski


“It sounds like your life would be very miserable moving back and helping out. You will be an unpaid maid.”

“You lost a lot growing up. Now it’s your responsibility to create a good life for yourself where you can be happy.”

“Of course, you want to help out family. But not the ones that treat you badly and don’t actually care about YOU!” ~ CissiE_33

There were personal stories, too.

“As someone who was treated similarly as a child, I’m giving you a standing ovation in my apartment right now.”

“You don’t owe your evil stepdad or the Mom who abandoned you a goddamn thing.”

“You don’t owe your step-siblings a thing.”

“And you certainly don’t owe the dramatic family friend who had the gall to get involved a thing. Please, please, please at least consider going NC for a while. Nta & sending a huge hug ♥️ You’re doing the right thing” ~ livelaughween

“I moved in with my father to help care for him.”

“My childhood was hellish, but every day after he sobered up, he was there.”

“Every time I needed help. He was there in some way, shape, or form. He did everything, tried everything to make it up to all of us.”

“I do not see that kind of effort to warrant any of that devotion on your end. NTA from a child who cared for an aging parent.” ~ LongNectarine3

Of course, taking stock of every mistake isn’t really the point here.

The way we are treated by others is going to form our opinion of that person and thereby alter our actions.

Written by Frank Geier

Frank Geier (pronouns he/him) is a nerd and father of three who recently moved to Alabama. He is an avid roleplayer and storyteller occasionally masquerading as a rational human.