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Stepmom insists on being the 'backstage mom' at dance recital, 'she is trying to remove me.' AITA? UPDATED

Stepmom insists on being the 'backstage mom' at dance recital, 'she is trying to remove me.' AITA? UPDATED

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"AITA for wanting to be 'backstage mom' at my stepdaughter’s dance recital during her mom’s custodial time?"

I have been taking my 9yo stepdaughter to dance classes for four years. I drive her every week. My husband (her dad) and I pay for every single fee associated with her dance school. This year, her end-of-year recital lands on her mother’s custodial time. Her mom has committed to taking her to the show.

I volunteered to be the backstage parent (managing the class backstage when they’re not performing, helping with hair and makeup, etc). I did this for the last two recitals and my stepdaughter loves having me there to hang out and support her.

The dance school reached out yesterday to tell me that my stepdaughter‘s mother asked them to remove me as backstage parent and put her in. They agreed to do it without discussing it with me first because she basically told them it was her custodial right. (To be clear, nothing in their court order says anything that would prevent me from being able to be around her even though she’s not in dad’s custody.)

Mom and I have a history of high conflict. I believe she is trying to remove me because she doesn’t want me spending any extra quality time with her daughter. She simply hates me and my husband.

(If you are wondering, I have nothing to do with why she and my husband never worked out). I could bow out and accept this because I’m not the biological parent, but it breaks my heart because I love being there and dance is “my thing” with my stepdaughter.

WIBTA if I reminded the school who their paying customer is and ask them to go back on the decision and advocate for me? I want to fight back and give them all the context so they can understand why I have the right to be there. But I also don’t want more conflict with mom, who would be upset if the school has my back.

(If you are wondering, I don’t think she would go to the lengths of not taking her to the recital over this, because she has to know that would be devastating to her daughter who’s worked hard to prepare for her performance.) I’m not sure what the best way for all of this to play out would be. Thank you so much for your judgments! I’m all ears!

Here's what top commenters had to say about this one:

guardlamamama said:

ESH - You should attend the recital and kindly explain to your step-daughter that you will be there, but her mom wants to be the backstage mom. Don't drive a wedge between them, and make sure your step-daughter knows you still love and support her. DON'T ALIENATE HER FROM MOM.

Mother_Tradition_774 said:

ESH. I understand why it hurts but part of being a stepparent is understanding that there are times you have to step back and let the primary parents do their thing. You’ve been backstage mom twice. Let the bio mom have a turn.

SpaceJesusIsHere said:

NTA, whatever you decide. You're paying, you're the one who takes her to dance class, so it's perfectly reasonable to want to be there backstage with her. But, asking the school to remove biomom now would likely cause a lot of drama.

If it were me, I would speak to whoever is in charge of the school and let them know if they replace you without calling again, your money will go to a different school.

You seem to care lot about your step daughter and that's commendable. I should warn you, this subreddit has a hate boner for evil step moms, so that will likely reflect in your responses here. But you seem to be doing a great job. Sit this one out in the audience and lay down the law with the dance school for the future.

punnymama said:

YWBTA because this isn’t a conflict to die on. If Mom is making this a Me vs Stepmom thing, you need to rise above it. You tell your stepdaughter that you won’t be backstage this year, that her mom has missed out on it and is super excited to be there.

Tell her you’ll be in the audience cheering for her. Show up after with flowers and praise. This is HER recital. If mom wants to make it a power play to be “oh stepmom didn’t want to be here but dw mommy is here," get there first with your explanation but don’t paint her mom as the villain - she’s a child and doesn’t belong in the middle.

This may be “your thing”, but you’re there to support your stepdaughter. Cheer her on, take the time to sit and watch her performance and tell her how great she was. Don’t feed the conflict bear.

NewtoFL2 said:

YTA. Please do not turn this into WWIII. It is her time with her DD, not yours. If you want, you can tell DH you do not want him paying for dance anymore (which he may or not be legally required to). But that would be an AH move.

Ok_Remote_1036 said:

YWBTA. You don’t have exclusive claim over your stepdaughter’s dance because you’ve generally taken her to it. In fact that’s even more reason for her mom to have the chance to connect with her over this passion. Saying it’s only “your thing” with her sounds petty.

Ashamed-Blueberry-98 said:

YTA you’re not her mother and after reading your comments you are obviously the problem

UPDATE:

I called the dance school, but not to have them change their decision. I gave them all the context. (I should’ve clarified in my OP that she lied to them and implied I wasn’t legally allowed to be there on her time which is not true).

The owner of the school says he feels completely manipulated by her mom. He apologized. He offered to make it right and said he and his wife (co-owner) were comfortable with reaching out to mom and telling her that I am the backstage mom. They also said it would never happen again.

I told them that I really appreciated that they are owning up to how it went down. But I told them that I would rather take the high road and leave it at that. I told them not to reach out to mom. Let her have it. I also apologized to them for having to deal with drama that should’ve been handled by our family privately.

The only thing that matters to me is that my stepdaughter has a wonderful experience. I could’ve “won” this, but if that would’ve created even an inkling of stress for my SD on her big day, it wouldn’t be worth it.

My plan is to tell my SD “hey I know I said I’d be backstage this year but great news, your mom wants to do it! You guys will have so much fun together. I’m glad she will be there for you.” Then I’ll be in the audience with a bouquet of flowers and a huge smile on my face.

While the opinions were fairly divided for this one, most people weren't on OP's side. What's your advice for this situation?

Sources: Reddit
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