Here's the original post:
I married my wife last year (after four years of dating), and we mixed our families: her two boys, Dylan and Tyler (16 and 11 now) and my girl Sam (18 now). Our children accommodated to the idea of living together pretty well. Dylan and Ty's father and my wife got divorced when Tyler was born, and they agreed he would only have visitation rights.
Around two or three years ago Tyler called me dad while we were having dinner, and that night my wife asked me to correct her children when they call me dad, out of respect for their actual father. I found it weird but I agreed to cause in the end they're her children, although I never ended up doing it.
This week Dylan had a football match and Tyler a piano lesson, which my wife usually picks them up after. This time both she and I didn't have to work, so I suggested picking them up together. Dylan practically jumped to our car and then we all went to pick up Tyler, and since I was there I decided to meet his piano teacher too.
When she met my wife, Dylan and me she greeted us and asked me if I was the kids' dad. I sincerely forgot about that promise I made years ago, and said I indeed was their father. My wife almost instantly corrected me with "stepfather" and then Dylan said out loud "Mom!"
The return home was awkward, and when we arrived she called me out for breaking the promise we had by saying I'm the kids' dad. To make it worse this morning I noticed the kids are acting distant towards their mother and they deliberately are calling me dad whenever she's around. I feel guilty cause it's the first time there has been such tension between them and it's my fault. AITA for calling them my kids?
Your wife is working toward an estranged relationship with her boys. We can parent as much as we want but we will never control our kids’ feelings. She has assigned herself way to much power and her kids too little autonomy. We aren’t taking about 6 year olds. YOU didn’t do anything other than step up to the plate that another man abandoned. NTA
NTA. She is upset because you are a father to her kids and love them and they love you back?? I could understand their dad being upset, but not her. And honestly, not even him. He has visitation, you live with them.
NTA. If the kids think of you as "dad" then you're dad. "Dad" is not limited to biological father. Why can't the kids have two dads?
NTA, Let me stop crying before I say anything. These children are your children. They call you dad out of love not because you caused mommy to get pregnant. Move forward with your children and mommy can stew in her own baloney. You sound like a very good man, don't stop loving the kids because of her!
Your wife is the weird one dude. It's almost as if she only wanted you to be there for the financial support, not to be a "father" to her kids. Her kids like you, the fact that they got upset on your behalf is proof of that, that's why they're deliberately going out of their way to call you dad, she hurt their feelings. She may not see you as her kids dad, but they sure as shit are you as their dad.
NTA. Your wife shouldn't be gatekeeping your relationship with the children from her previous relationship. A title of "Dad" comes not from the donation of genetic material, but from the quality and character of a relationship. Also, a kid can have two or more dads.
Consensus: Definitely NTA. And to echo Taddle N Ill Paddle: "Your wife is the weird one dude."
Thank you all for all the comments, I couldn't read them all but I still appreciate them. A few hours ago while we all were having lunch I decided to bring the topic and asked my wife why is she so against the kids calling me dad if that's something they want to do. She said that she was afraid me calling myself dad in public would make the kids believe they were forced to view me as their dad too.
Dylan told her that was ridiculous, and I agree but I didn't said it cause I thought that would create conflict. I asked Sam and Dylan to take Tyler to his room and then I opened up about how I feel about her interactions with her ex. I know I shouldn't have because he's the kids father and all that stuff,
but I still told her I thought the guy was a trash parent and that she was giving a bad example to the kids by interacting with him so much. She said she wants to keep a good relationship with the dude in case the kids want him in their lives and I told her she just was hurting the kids and that she should focus on spending time with them instead, since as their mother she should know how they feel after so many years.
Finally, I told her I won't do anything about Dylan and Tyler calling me dad. I'm happy they do so and if she wants them to stop, for whatever ridiculous reason she may have, then she'll have to ask the kids herself, and If she can't, then that means she must realize what a shitty request that is.
I admit that I got a little heated up and used harsher words that I would've liked to use now, but I'm still glad I could finally tell her all of this. I'll start being more direct towards her from now on.
I didn't touch the adoption subject because I thought it was too much at once. Later on I'll bring it up and update you on what happened since you all supported the idea. Thank you again for your help!