AITA for making my daughter share her presents with my stepdaughter?
I (40f) was a single mother to my daughter, Amy (15f). I came out three years ago and married my wife Jenna (42f) last year. She has a daughter, Nora (13f). We all live together and I have full custody of my daughter. It was hard for her to adjust to having a second mom, but they got along well.
The girls have their birthdays very close, only two days apart, so we decided to have a joint birthday party for both of them since Nora had a hard time making new friends (they moved in with us and she's timid). Most of my family lives out of the country, so the gifts were sent a week early. It was a giant bag, with at least 20 gifts. The party was nice, and we opened the bag at night once everyone left.
Jenna handed out the presents as she took them. After 12 gifts in a row just for Amy, I checked the bag and froze to see that there was only one gift for Nora from my parents. She pretended it wasn't a big deal, but as she opened the present, I saw her eyes drop. It was a $15 tumbler from Walmart. Not to sound ungrateful, but Amy's gifts were much more expensive (lots of gift cards over $100, a new phone, limited-edition Funkos, designer clothes, and lots of cards wishing her a happy birthday).
I blew up the family chat, calling out my parents, siblings, and extended family who sent gifts for not considering Nora and my parents for the cheap gift. No one took me seriously since: 'It's not our duty to give gifts to someone else's kid' and 'Amy deserved them since I didn't even throw her own birthday party,' emphasizing that Jenna and Nora are my problems, not theirs.
Nora was hurt since it was not the first time my family has left her out. At night, I asked Amy to share some of the gifts with her stepsister. Not all of them, just a couple of gift cards and some of the new clothes. Amy refused. This surprised me since she never had a problem with sharing, and even though she and Nora are not BFFs, they usually get along.
After asking why, Amy started crying, saying that she never wanted a joint birthday party and that I forced her to share everything with Nora. They share a room for space, and I make sure they're both invited to the same parties and sleepovers so that Nora won't be left out. If they don't invite both of them, neither of them goes.
Amy stated that she at least wanted her own gifts to be hers alone. I scolded her for being selfish with her stepsister, grounded her, and took a couple of the presents to give to Nora. She turned them down because she didn't want problems with Amy and it felt like pity. Since then, Amy has been cold to all of us. I just wanted my two girls to be closer with the joint party and have the same things. AITA?
YTA (You're the A**hole), you're basically asking your daughter to share her complete identity with Nora. Her room, her stuff, her family, her friends, her birthday party, the parties she goes to, sleepovers.... is there anything that is really HERS? This can't be good for her development. She needs to be her own person.
YTA, I know you are trying your best, but your mistake was to have a joint party in the first place. Amy is a teenager and is developmentally looking to forge her own identity. This means not existing as a package deal with Nora. It's also cruel to take someone's birthday presents away when it's not her fault that your family was not as generous with Nora. It's up to you and your spouse to make sure Nora has a good birthday too.
I think you need to talk to your wife about how you all want to co-parent your teens. It's incredibly inappropriate to expect their friends to invite them as a package deal to parties. They are teenagers; it is entirely normal to have different social circles. There are twins out there who have separate friends.
I also want to stress that it is common for biological sisters who grow up together not to like each other. The fact that Amy and Nora are not besties is not a failure to blend your families. Stop forcing it.
You’re trying to force this one big happy family dynamic. You expect your family to jump on board pretty quickly and just accept and treat Nora like your own and they haven’t.
You don’t solve that by stealing your daughter's presents from her family and sharing them with Nora, that’s only going to build resentment between them. You’ve found who you are and accepted it and created a new life, good for you. But in the process, you’ve robbed your daughter of her own space, her own celebrations, her own friendships, and her own gifts. Then you punish her for not being accepting of it.
That’s just crappy on multiple levels.