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Stepmom skips stepdaughter's 'wedding prep week' because of high needs parrot. AITA?

Stepmom skips stepdaughter's 'wedding prep week' because of high needs parrot. AITA?


When you really love your pet, they become a member of the family.

Prioritizing a pet's needs is natural when you love them, but it can become complicated when caring for your pet is at odds with the needs of your partner or other close loved ones.

In a popular post on the AITA subreddit, a woman asked if she's wrong for skipping her step-daughter's wedding prep because of her high-needs parrot.

She wrote:

/AITA for prioritizing my parrot over my stepdaughter's wedding?​​​​

So I'm the owner of a wonderful rescued macaw. She is a wonderful bird but has a lot of issues due to an abusive former home. I've had her for 3 years and since then haven't taken any vacations or trips away as it would be too disruptive for her.

She distrusts everyone and is reliant on her routine. I love her deeply and I'm happy to make sacrifices. They are permanent toddlers and very intelligent birds. I met my husband by the time his kids were older, my stepdaughter was 16 at the time.

We married when she moved away for college. Nevertheless, I thought we'd managed to have a decent relationship, until now. My stepdaughter is getting married in March, and naturally, there's a lot of preparation involved.

They're wanting a huge traditional wedding and she is stressed out of her mind. They live out of state, and she invited me recently to visit her for a week to help make wedding plans and spend time with their 2-year-old.

I declined and she insisted to know why, acting very hurt, and I explained the parrot. Well it all went downhill from there.

She caused a massive fuss with her dad, saying she never got a mother figure and I never accepted her as my full-blood daughter and this is the ultimate snub for a silly animal. That I'm cold and emotionless.

I feel really hurt and I can tell he agrees with her even though he's refusing to take sides. But I don't see why I should be expected to take holiday time off work to babysit and 'bond' all of a sudden and I don't see how I'm a monster for this.

Am I the a**hole here?

Edit: Context of our relationship, we don't usually talk at all and she hasn't visited home in 4 years.

People were quick to weigh in with their thoughts.

nonbinaryn00dle wrote:

Hey OP! It sounds like from building your relationship with your macaw you’ve learned a lot about the effects of trauma and healing trauma.

In reading your story I can’t help but think that maybe this understanding can be helpful to you as you navigate this rupture in your relationship with your stepdaughter. My judgement of the situation is NAH.

I respect and commend your devotion to your macaw and think it’s totally reasonable for you not to be available to your stepdaughter in the way she’s asked.

I can also see why this hurt your stepdaughter (although I do think she could definitely have handled it better and I hope she comes around).

Based on what you say she said to her father about never having a mother figure or being accepted by you, it sounds like she has some typical abandonment trauma.

Since weddings are largely considered a very important day in people’s lives, it can bring to the forefront any wounds around important relationships and their role in life milestones.

Maybe you declining to be more involved triggered a trauma response in her from her mother wound?

I suspect she may have felt rejected and may be feeling the absence of a mother figure in her life really heavily right now leading up to the wedding, and that’s the place she had that reaction from.

Obviously, I’m not familiar with the dynamics in your family, but as someone with a special interest in psychology and trauma, this is what stands out to me from your story.

Maybe what you know about trauma and healing can help you to connect with and support her in a way that doesn’t compromise your commitment to your macaw?

If these things are true, maybe a conversation where you affirm to her that you do really care about her, even though you can’t be there in the way she wanted.

And that if she really wants to work on building more of a relationship with you in the future, you’re open to that (if that’s true).

Kirin2013 wrote:

Unless you know parrots in general (and how people finicky they can be, especially abused ones), this isn't an animal you can simply drop off at a pet sitter. OP could lose the previously abused bird's trust if the bird thinks OP had abandoned them.

Same time, you are already associating *bonding* as being a free babysitter. Also, a last minute one at that. Maybe it's true, maybe it's not. Just sounded a little callous, but then again you are NOT obligated to be her babysitter. NTA.

Ka-Ka-Master wrote:

I'd normally say you were an a**hole for putting a bird before family, but you've made it clear she's been pretty distant with you. The thing about realtionships (all relationships) is they require effort and attention.

Just because you're related (by blood or law) doesn't mean someone is entitled to your presence, especially if the relationship isn't exactly a good one. You aren't the a**hole. I assume if your relationship were better, you'd make more of an effort.

You're still going, so it isn't like you're skipping the wedding. NTA, I don't blame you.

wolfpupower wrote:

NTA. Macaws and parrots are not just “birds” like budgies where you can ask a pet sitter to feed and water them all week. Macaws are like gifted children who scream and can rip your fingers off.

They are an 80-year commitment and often only bond to a single person. Birds in general are extremely sensitive to any environmental changes so someone who doesn’t know what they are doing can hurt or even kill the macaw.

Shame on everyone for saying “choosing an animal over family” like it’s a bad thing. The macaw seems more like family than her stepdaughter. If it was that big of a deal then stepdaughter would help make accommodations rather than just want a babysitter.

Edit: Also, my sister has twins, and more often than not, 'spending time' with the kids means babysitting them, this doesn't sound like a vacation, but a desire to put you to work.

Artsy_Shartsy22 wrote:

NTA, because it sounds like she was trying to get free childcare and labor out of you rather than wanting bonding time. Your title made it sound like you'd be missing the wedding.

You definitely need to go to the wedding, because at that point you're taking it too far putting the bird over family. Maybe offer if there's anything you can do to help prepare from home, if that's something you want to do.

ETA: If you are going to make sure to make it to the wedding, you need to clarify that in the post, because I think a lot of people are reading this as you saying you won't be going to the wedding.

After receiving a lot of responses, OP shared an update with the internet.

Update: Beginning to think it was maybe a mistake posting this. Mostly because this is a real and nuanced situation and Reddit is no place for nuance, and maybe personal relationships shouldn't be judged in the AH context in the first place.

But also because I should be more understanding and a bigger person regardless of who is or isn't the a**hole. Life is too short to be butthurt and offended.

I called my stepdaughter and told her that I understand this is a big moment in her life and she wants someone there to help and support her, and that I'm still willing to help her in any way I can to plan the wedding via zoom and virtually.

We talked a bit and I asked her why she hadn't accepted me reaching out in the past, and she apologized and said she didn't want to accept someone as a stand-in, 'fake' replacement for her bio mom.

But now she regrets it and would like a closer relationship, especially seeing how close her SO is with his mom. We ended the conversation positively and I'm hoping things can improve going forward.

I told her I'm a crazy bird lady and asked her if she still wants a relationship knowing that and she said that after the wedding she's willing to travel to visit us if we have room...which we do.

I'll leave this post up but I'm happy either way and I'm glad the feedback here motivated me to make the call.

It looks like OP made the right decision by picking up the phone, and now, they've reached a mutual understanding.

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