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Man 'checks out' after stepdaughter damages his car; wife says 'you're not the dad.'

Man 'checks out' after stepdaughter damages his car; wife says 'you're not the dad.'


Blending a step-parent into the family dynamic can be complicated. On one hand, you want them to bond with the kids and become as invested as a birth parent. On the other hand, it takes time for everyone to adjust and you don't want to force anything that doesn't feel natural.

In a popular post on the AITA subreddit, a man asked if he's wrong for checking out of parental duties after his wife said he's not the father.

He wrote:

AITA for checking out of parental duties after my wife said I’m not the father?

My wife and I have been married for about 4 years. She brought 3 kids from previous relationships into the marriage while I have none. They moved into my house after the marriage because I live in a better school district. Obviously, we’ve had our ups and downs but overall it’s been good.

Until, a couple of weeks ago when I woke up and found a large dent running down the entire passenger side of my car. The dent is about a hand's wide, starts at the front fender, and runs down all the way to the rear tire. I was furious and thought someone side swept my car as it was parked on the street.

I checked our doorbell camera to see if it recorded anything and was surprised to see our 16 year old daughter sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night and driving off in my car. She later returned hours later stumbling into the house. Outside of those 2 events, the doorbell camera didn’t record anything else but a couple of passing cars that didn’t come close to mine.

I angrily showed my wife the recording and told her our daughter needs to be punished but she said that she’ll talk to her. I argued that talk isn’t enough which led us into an argument. My wife argued that the new family dynamic has been hard on the kids while I argued that it doesn’t excuse the damage done to my car.

I wanted her to agree to ground our daughter from social media and make her get a job to pay for the damage. We argued for hours until she said I don’t get a say in any punishment because I’m not her father. That ended the argument and I walked off. Since then I’ve checked out of any parental duties. I’ve been an adult and still make sure the kids are safe and fed but I haven’t done anything a father would do.

They had doctor’s appointments last week for their checkups because they play sports in school and I refused to drive them causing my wife to have to take off work. They start school next week and I’ve dropped them off ever since they moved in but I told my wife she’ll have to do it this year.

She argued she can’t because of her work schedule and I answered a mother would figure it out. She called me a child and to grow up. I think since I’m not the father I don’t have to take on the responsibilities of one but obviously, she disagrees. AITA?


I was angry when I wrote it so I left out some info. My wife wants me to report it to my insurance as a hit-and-run. She said that way no one has to pay for it. I argue that I’ll have to pay for it in the long run because they’ll jack up my rates.

I’m not ignoring the kids and I still talk to them daily. I just don’t do or make any parental decisions like I stated above. Also the other day our son asked me if he should play basketball or football and I told him to go ask his mother.

People quickly weighed in with their questions and thoughts.

Veteris71 wrote:

'My wife wants me to report it to my insurance as a hit and run. She said that way no one has to pay for it.'

Insurance fraud is a crime. Don't do it. Also, you had better report the theft of your car and the accident to the police. She obviously hit something with it, and there's a good chance a camera somewhere recorded your car and it can be traced back to you.

Then I think you should separate. Her daughter committed at least three serious crimes: auto theft, drunk driving and hit and run. She has put you at risk of being sued and possibly arrested. You can't live in a home where that behavior isn't dealt with.

Edited to add judgment: ESH. Wife and daughter are AHs for obvious reasons. You are an AH for not taking this seriously enough. You're playing petty games about basketball and rides to school when there's a criminal in the house and her mother is enabling her. What else is she up to that you don't know about?

Virtual_Act_8135 wrote:

NTA. But your wife definitely is. What kind of mother is fine with her 16-year-old daughter stealing a car, driving drunk, and causing some sort of accident? If I did that I wouldn't have a social life until I went off to college.

Anonymoosehead123 wrote:

NTA. Your wife doesn’t get to pick and choose when you get to act like a parental authority. She’s also wrong about the hit-and-run scenario. If you get it repaired, you’ll have to pay your deductible. And it will Jack up your rates. It’s interesting that she thinks the way to deal with her daughter’s behavior is to commit insurance fraud.

But most importantly, this is a hugely significant problem. Her 16 y/o daughter snuck out at night, and came home apparently drunk. I’m an insurance adjuster handling serious injury/fatality claims.

I’ve had to speak to the heartbroken parents of dead teenagers a sickening number of times. I’ve also had to look at scene photos of dead teenagers far too often. If your wife doesn’t address this immediately and strongly, she’s putting her daughter’s life at risk.

Sea_Firefighter_4598 wrote:

NTA. Her daughter is a budding car thief and she is not concerned enough to punish her. The new dynamic is hard? Tell mom and daughter next time you are calling the cops and they can tell them about the new dynamic. A 'stumbling' 16-year-old could have hurt herself and other people quite severely. She may be telling the wrong person to grow up, she needs to look in the mirror.

tiredandshort wrote:

NTA. Because simply talking to a 16-year-old about drunk driving isn’t going to do anything. She needs waaaay more punishment for that alone. She could have killed or been killed.

Clearly, OP is NTA, but his wife is waving some major red flags in the way she's handling this.

Sources: Reddit
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