I have an 18 year old son and a 16 year old step daughter. They are civil with each other but have their own lives. It is just how our family is, especially since my husband and I got married when my son was 14 and his daughter was 12.
I’m not too strict with my son. I don’t know what he does with his friends and I’m not too involved in his personal relationships. We are still just as close as any other mother and child.
Anyways, a couple days ago my step daughter sent me a series of photos of my son. I believe he may have posted them on his private social media accounts and it was images of him at parties, doing what teens do, and him with both genders.
I immediately told my step daughter that what she did was unnecessary and inappropriate. She replied with “sorry” “just thought you should know”. I told her that unless he’s in danger or hurting himself/other people, I’d rather not know what my 18 year old son does in his free time.
Now I did not want them to fight, so I didn’t say anything. Especially since my step daughter apologized once again.
But yesterday I was with my husband and he was showing me a video on his phone when his daughter started sending him a bunch of messages. He opened them in front of me and it was the same exact pictures of my son that she sent me days before.
But this time she said, “So I sent these to -stepmom- but she thinks this is okay behavior… do you agree?” My husband didn’t really know how to react and told her that it really wasn’t any of their business what he does and she just sent a bunch of eye roll emojis.
My son came home a while later and I decided to tell him that his step sister was sending us pictures of him. He seemed confused and asked to see so I showed him the messages. He was extremely embarrassed and upset and went to his room.
I then heard him on the phone yelling at someone. My step daughter came home an hour later and started yelling at me for “snitching” on her. I told her that she was invading his privacy and he has the right to know. I gave her the benefit of the doubt the first time but then she sent the pictures to her father.
She said that I just ruined half of her friendships and my son and a lot of his friends blocked her on social media. She says that she had good intentions and wanted me to know what he was up to just in case but I just had to assume the worst.
My husband agrees that my son should know but he thinks we could’ve just given him a vague idea instead of showing the pictures and actually telling him. AITA?
OP provided an update:
Him posting those pictures on social media was just my assumption. Some look very clearly posted by him on his PRIVATE social media accounts but some were blurry enough for me to question it.
My son is too embarrassed to even look at me right now, so I cannot confirm. I’m trying and have reassured him, but he’s locked himself in his room so I’m giving him some time before trying again.
Also, I clearly state that I have no interest in his personal relationships. I know he doesn’t hang out with weird or dangerous people and that is all I need to know. I did not say that I have no interest in his life at all. That is an extremely unfair assumption.
Here are some of the top comments:
What?!?! She literally stalked him and took pictures of him to send to you to get him in trouble and she's calling YOU a "snitch"? You're the f%#king parent. She makes no sense. NTA (Not the A%^hole). Maybe a grounding is in order, but what's her deal?
Yeah and maybe outed him as well - OP doesn’t say she knew he was bi.
Oh I missed that bit the first read through. Considering the step-sister showed her dad after the mom was unbothered makes me think that that might be the behavior she’s not happy with and trying to stir. I hope I’m wrong though.
NTA at all- but I’m surprised you’re not more invested in why she cares so much. Either she’s judgmental about the behavior she saw and it’s a good opportunity to discuss why it made her uncomfortable, or she wanted him in trouble, which is also worth a family conversation.
It’s not that I am not invested, it’s more that I’m more concerned about how my son is feeling regarding the whole thing. But my husband has plans to talk to his daughter about what she did and we will work on it from there.
If a stranger may offer a point of view, I think both your husband (her dad) and you should have a talk with her—perhaps even separately. This conversation could aim to understand why your daughter felt the need to share her brother's socializing pictures with you.
The goal is not to assign blame but to explore whether her actions stem from genuine concern (love?) or another motivation. I am concerned that handling this situation without understanding her perspective might discourage her from approaching you in the future.
Losing that open line of communication between a mother and daughter would be unfortunate. You can use this opportunity to explain your views further on why her brother is free to make choices in his life, while also finding common ground with her own perspectives.
I appreciate your perspective. I will definitely take it into consideration and will discuss options with my husband. Thank you!
I wonder if there is some jealousy at play here—perhaps related to how he (a male) is treated compared to her. Considering she is only 16 and he is 18, I ponder what he was allowed to do or, in her perception, "get away with" at the age of 16.
You mentioned they have been step-siblings for about four years since she was 12 and he was 14. It's possible that she has observed him being permitted to do things she isn't allowed to because of her gender. Maybe, at 14, he had more freedom than she did, and this discrepancy has persisted for the past four years.
Now, at 16, if she is not allowed to do certain things, she might be thinking, "I'll show you how innocent he really is." This is purely speculative, and I don't have an older brother, but I offer it as a potential explanation.
Well I don’t believe this is the case. Everything my son was allowed to do at 16, she is also allowed to do as well. It will be the same when she’s 18. We pretty much give them the freedom to do what they want.
My step daughter just has to be home before 10pm on school nights, we need to know where she plans on going if she wants to go out, and she has to introduce us to whoever she is dating. My son had the same rules when he was 16.
What do you think? Would you have taken the same actions OP did with her son and stepdaughter?