Having a relationship with a step-sibling can be difficult. Especially if you don't live together the bonding time is limited. Parents may try and force a relationship and that never ends well. Kids will develop relationships at their own pace and time. What would you do if you tried to force a relationship between step-siblings and it ended with one bullying the other?
AITA for driving my daughters home in the middle of the vacation after they excluded their stepsister
I know this might sound ridiculous but let me explain.
I (38M) have 2 daughters (Nora 16 & Lilly 14) from my former marriage. Got married to my current wife who has a daughter (Jenna, 11). Jenna has a disability she's in a wheelchair. before I met her mom her life was pretty much inside the house. she was homeschooled up until I got her into a private school, but she still struggles with socializing due to growing up isolated.
My wife didn't want to but I pushed for Jenna to get therapy which I hoped would help with her relationship with Nora and Lilly, but the girls took their time to get to know her. Yes, they did exclude her from activities but I had several sit-downs with them in hopes of getting them to understand that Jenna is a normal girl and has so much in common with them. In hopes that they wouldn't think that she's difficult just because of her disability.
I thought things were getting better, but days ago we were on vacation at a beach resort for 4 days. Jenna stayed with us while the girls kept going out. During our second day, I saw the girls getting ready to get ice cream so I asked Jenna if she wanted to join them and she said yes. I asked them to take her with them and they were 'unsure' at first but then took her.
An hour later my wife came to me saying that Jenna called her saying the girls left her near one of the benches and told her to wait 5 minutes until they got ice cream but didn't come back. We went there immediately and found Jenna sitting alone while the girls were eating ice cream and hanging out at a different location.
I got so mad at them especially after they admitted to 'leaving her there'. I told them vacation was over FOR THEM and had them pack their stuff and took them home. Both of them were crying and pleading in the car while my wife and Jenna waited at the resort. I dropped the girls off and had my mom stay with them then I went back and resumed the vacation.
Both girls and their mom were all over me about this and their mom went on a rant about me favoring my stepdaughter over my biological ones and being a doormat for my wife. The girls were upset but I explained why I did what I did. Their mom defended them saying that I shouldn't force them to 'care' for their stepsister, expect them to be her 'maids', and stop their life for her.
It got to my former in-laws who are now blaming me for ruining the much-awaited vacation for the girls and acting irrationally. My question is whether I messed up and went too far with my reaction. All I wanted was for them to be upfront and honest and not basically abandon her the way they did.
NTA (Not the A**hole). The girls were wrong to leave their stepsister alone and they deserved punishment. But you are trying to force a relationship between them. You cannot force people to be friends and love each other. Now they will see the child as a burden imposed by you on them.
ESH (Everyone Sucks Here).
So here’s the thing: You’re being an amazing stepdad and advocate for Jenna.
And your daughters needed punishing for essentially abandoning a young kid, especially with a disability.
But coercing them into hanging out with Jenna won’t make them bond. They’ll just resent her even though it’s not her fault.
Are you sure Nora and Lilly are excluding her purely because of her wheelchair? 16 and 11 are two pretty different stages, and unlike Lilly (who Nora’s grown up with and probably has mutual friends) Jenna probably doesn’t have a ton in common with a teenager.
I’m not entirely shocked that they feel more like they’re babysitting than 3 teenagers hanging out. You can’t make kids love each other or even like each other. But you can make sure they treat each other with respect and equality.
Are you sure this is because Jenna has a disability or is it because she is the stepsister? You can read any number of posts on this sub about people being forced to be friends with step-siblings and how badly that went.
Yes leaving her there alone was bad and yes you should have punished them for it. But it would help if you also weren't forcing them to be friends. Let them make a relationship at their own pace.