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Woman refuses to take in stepdaughter after her repeated bullying of special needs son. AITA? + Update

Woman refuses to take in stepdaughter after her repeated bullying of special needs son. AITA? + Update


"AITA If I say "No" to allowing my husband's daughter to come live with us full time?"


I have been married to my husband for 6 years. We have 2 kids together (8m and 4m). Our youngest is special needs. My husband also has a daughter (12) from his previous relationship. My husband's ex has had primary custody. My husband gets SD on weekends and alternating holidays/birthdays.

This past weekend, my SD asked my husband if she can come live with him fulltime. Her mom recently moved in with her fiance and his kids and there has been some friction with that from what I understand.

Nothing nefarious, just new house, new rules, having to share a bedroom etc. My husband didn't give her an answer either way, he said he would look into it. When he and I were discussing it I had the following objections:

SD and our kids do not get along. It is something we have worked on for years, in and out of therapy - and it just ain't happening. SD resents mine for existing, and is cruel towards my youngest for their disabilities.

There have been issues with her bullying. My oldest is very protective of his little brother and hates SD for being mean to his brother. He has started physical altercations with her over it.

The truth is that most of the time we have SD, I make arrangements to take the boys to visit their grandparents or husband takes her out of the house for daddy daughter time to avoid conflict. I cannot imagine how living together full time would be for them.

We really don't have room. We have a 4br home. Both my husband and I wfh so we can be a caretaker for my youngest. Due to the nature of his disabilities it is really not feasible for him and my oldest to share a room.

It wouldn't be safe or fair for my oldest. My SD's room is used as my wfh office space during the week. I arrange my vacation time and whatnot around her visitation so I can stay out of her space while she is here.

I have to take very sensitive phone calls, and I need a closed door when I work so common areas are out and my husband uses our bedroom as his home office so that's out too.

We don't currently have room in the budget to make an addition to the house or remodel non livable spaces at the moment. My husband hears my objections and understands them, but he wants to go for it and figures that everything will eventually work out.

He doesn't want his daughter to think he is abandoning her. And I feel for the girl, it would be awful for your dad to say no when you ask if you can live with him! But I have my own kids to think about too.

I just do not believe that her living here is in their best interest at all considering their history and our current living arrangements. Does saying "no" to this put me in evil step mom territory?

EDIT: For the people who want to make me into an horrible homewrecker to go along with being an evil stepmom...

Sorry to disappoint, but we did not have an affair.

My husband and my stepdaughter's mom were never married. They were never in a relationship. They were friends with benefits. They bartended together, would shoot the bull, and would sometimes get drunk and hook up (my husband claims he needed beer googles cause she really isn't his 'type").

When my SD's mom found out she was pregnant she told my husband she was keeping it and asked if he wanted to be in the baby's life. They never lived together, except for a few weeks during the newborn stage to help out.

Yes. I had my first before I married my husband. My husband and I were in a long term relationship when I had a birth control malfunction. My husband and I discussed what we wanted to do, and we both decided we wanted to raise the child.

A few days later my husband proposed. I wanted to take time to recover from birth and wait until our kiddo was old enough to pawn him off on the grandparents for the week so husband and I could enjoy our wedding. We didn't get married until my oldest was 2.

EDIT 2: Regarding my youngest son's disabilities, SD's bullying, and my oldest's starting fights since there is a lot of projection and speculation. My youngest son has both physical and mental disabilities.

He uses multiple kinds of medical and therapy equipment. My SD has shoved him out of his wheel chair. She has pinched him hard enough to leave bruises. She has hit his face when he was having trouble verbalizing.

Idgaf if this is "normal" sibling behavior. It is alarming enough to me that I feel it is best for my youngest to spend as little time as possible with her until this behavior completely stops (and I will say it has LESSENED quite a bit.

We went through a period of it happening frequently, and it has slowed. The last incident was 2 months ago when SD grabbed my son's wheel chair and aggressively pushed him out of her way because he was blocking the hallway)

One of the times that my son had started an altercation with her, was because she had told my son that his brother was not a real person and that she was going to call the hospital to have him taken away so they could perform experiments to find out what it was.

She went into detail about things they would do to him. Like ripping his fingernails out. And yes, my son did lose his temper and hit her. My son was immediately disciplined (loss of tablet time) and we had an age appropriate discussion about how his heart is in the right place to want to protect his little brother.

But he needs to find an adult when something like that happens. This was not made up. Stepdaughter admitted she said it to my husband when he was able to sit her down and talk with her later in the day. (I am not allowed to discipline or have parenting talks with SD per biomom's wishes)

I am not welcomed to be a part of SD's therapy journey, mostly per biomom's wishes. She does not want me involved. My husband has always been worried about rocking the boat with biomom on these things.

So I do not know the extent of what therapeutic treatments she has had. I do know she does go to therapy during the week, and my husband has gone to sessions but it isn't something he is free to discuss with me. So I am in the dark about that.

EDIT 3 - There's someone in the comments who claims to be my sister in law. They are either a troll or are mistaken. My husband is an only child. I don't have a sister in law.

Here were the top rated comments from readers in response to the OP's initial post:


Honestly I don’t really know how to rule on this. Ultimately I just feel bad for kids in her position (obv no excuse for bullying on her part). Kids whose parents get divorced and start “new” families and suddenly they have no place and they’re no ones priority. Have quite a few friends who were in that position, just sucks.


Yeah, she's 12 and everyone is acting like she's a psychopath. She's at her dad's once in a while, and I'm sure her disabled brother takes up a lot of attention. It isn't actually surprising she's resentful, but no one is dealing with it because it's too much work.

Mom is right to be protective of her sons, but dad also has equal obligations to his preteen(!) daughter. He doesn't get to just write her off because he had more children with someone else, and it's easier to only have her on holidays and some weekends.

The easiest solution would be to increase her time there, set clear expectations that it's a trial run, and see how that goes before making a decision about her living there full time.


I would go a middle route. Sit SD down and explain to her that the way she treats your kids has been unacceptable for a long time, and you refuse to let her live there if she's going to keep bullying and hurting them. Tell her if she can change her behavior and treat her stepsiblings with respect and kindness, you'll be willing to revisit the subject after she stays consistent for a year.

I think that of you and your husband make it clear that her behavior towards the other kids is a problem, she won't feel abandoned. She also might just suck it up and deal at her mom's. But she needs to understand that her treatment of your kids is going to continue to be a problem if she doesn't choose to change.


"Everything will work out"


That's not how life works, this isn't a fairy tale. If the step daughter is cruel to your special needs child, you need to prevent your kid from that. It sucks, the girl doesn't get along at her mom's house, doesn't get along at her dad's. She has issues... But your special needs child does too.


Is anyone asking this girl what's going on at her mum's that is so bad she wants to move in with people she apparently hates? How is that not raising red flags?

Six days later, the OP returned with a full update.

"Update: AITAH If I say "No" to allowing my husband's daughter to come live with us full time?"


So last week my husband and I sat down together and talked about SD coming to live with us full time and how that would work out. It was a difficult discussion because, as some redditors had suggested, I really pushed hard for him to really think things through and figure out the obstacles.

Where would he and I work? Common areas are out due to the nature of our jobs. (I can't due to employer restrictions. He does some NSFW things in his we don't want the kids to see). How were we going to handle the animosity and bullying between the kids? What consequences would be in place?

We talked about what expectations would be for SD living here full time vs just weekends. About how she probably has unrealistic expectations about what the nitty gritty life here is like.

We talked through very possibility we could come up with. Including out there possibilities like selling out home or separating our household and living apart for a while. We ran numbers to see how it may effect our finances.

And ultimately we agreed that the answer was "not yet" with a goal for our family working towards it. And that the best course of action would be to slowly adjust the amount of time she spends in our home vs a sudden custody switch.

So Fri night my husband took SD out to talk to her about everything. He explained to her that she wouldn't have her own room at our place for a couple years but that is something that is on the top of the list for home improvements once our youngest's handicap accessibility renovations are paid off.

He talked to her about what expectations of living with us would be like. That she would have chores and responsibilities. And most importantly they talked about the bullying and laid down the provision that we needed to see her relationship and attitude towards her brothers improve before she can live here fulltime.

SD obviously wasn't thrilled about any of this, but she said OK and that she would do better with her brothers. So Saturday I made arrangements for my parents to watch our sons, and we invited SD's mom over so we could all sit down and figure out how SD can start to spend more time here.

And that is when it fell apart. Mom is NOT ok with a change in custody at all. "Absolutely not" was her answer. She took SD home early Sat. My husband tried to reach out to SD on Sun to see how she was and ask if she wanted to do their guitar lesson over skype or something since her mom took her home early.

But she never responded. He called SD's mom and she informed him that SD had lost her phone privileges. So we don't really know what is going on with all that.


For those concerned about SD's mom violating custody arrangements: Please note that my husband and SDs mom do not have a formal custody arrangement. There is no court order in place. They have always just worked things out between themselves. Yes. This is a very stupid thing that they have done. Yes. Asses are being bitten.

My husband and I will not just go get her until we understand what we legally can and cannot do in our state and until we have copies of all pertinent legal documents to cover our own asses.

While we do not suspect abuse, please know my husband is in contact with SD's mom and SD through her. He has not expressed concern for SD's safety. If at any point we feel that has changed, we will make immediate moves.

Here were the top rated comments from readers in response to the OP's update:


Your husband needs a formal custody agreement since just the idea of his daughter spending more time at your house has caused her mom to punish her and prevent her dad from speaking to her. That's unacceptable and if they had a custody agreement, she could couldn't do it.


What type of custody agreement is in place? Court ordered? Child support? I know that might not be pertinent to this situation, but it helps lay the foundation of any advice I may give.


Yall need to go talk with a lawyer. If it was his time to see her she shouldn't of done that. And most judges don't take it kindly of a parent taking the means to communicate with the other parent away from the child.


Girl get that child out of there. Losing phone privileges because she wants to stay with her dad for a change? Hell no! Something is going on there that the bio mom doesn’t want anyone to know.

Get a lawyer and get custody arrangements. Kids change when they are out of toxic environment. Get her to therapy too after you get her out ( and not to fix her but to understand what’s going on with her and to have non bais person in her corner).


so you still have no idea what’s going on with your SD and you still want to pretend that you don’t understand why she’s been acting out. the answer is so obvious. my answer from your previous post is still the same. every adult in your SD’s life have failed her.


Confused somewhat. Was custody not discussed before having any discussion with SD? I thought the mother had approached regarding the change, and not just the daughter. If you guys entertained the idea and got SD's hopes up, then you are both the AH's.

The OP responded here:


No SD's mom didn't come to us. SD asked weekend before last if she could live with us instead because her and her mom recently moved in with her mom's partner. My husband told her that we would need to discuss it and figure out if it was a possibility.

We didn't talk to biomom until after we know what our answer was. As soon as mom found out SD wanted to spend more time with us, she shut it down immediately.


Poor girl, her father will do the bare minimum while her mother does whatever she wants with her and her stepmother presses her father against the wall, I just wish that girl would find someone who would do whatever it takes to help her.

So, what do you think about this one? If you could give the OP any advice here, what would you tell them?

Sources: Reddit,Reddit
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