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Mom asks daughter to start being nicer to stepdad. Daughter says 'I didn't choose him.'

Mom asks daughter to start being nicer to stepdad. Daughter says 'I didn't choose him.'


Integrating a step-parent into a child's life requires a delicate balance.

Ideally, the step-parent will be someone the child can grow to trust and love and rely on. But at the same time, pressuring them to connect with a step-parent can often backfire as it might come off as 'replacing' the other parent.

As with all family dynamics, there's no one-size-fits-all prescription for how to navigate these relationships healthily. It generally takes a lot of trial and error and open communication. And sometimes, an outside perspective is exactly what's called for to gauage a situation.

In a popular post on the AITA subreddit, a mom asked if she's wrong for asking her daughter to be more inclusive of her stepdad.

She wrote:

AITA for telling my daughter I don't like how she treats my husband?

I am a mom of three. My oldest daughter Gracie is from my first marriage. She's just turned 17. I have Milo 10 and Lyric 7 with my current husband.

My ex-husband and I separated days after Gracie's first birthday because he told me he wanted to see other women and wanted me to wait for him. I did not and I filed for divorce.

He always remained part of Gracie's life but he made it clear he only wanted me when it suited him. After the divorce, I met my current husband. Gracie was 4 before she was introduced to him.

Her dad was angry when I found someone else. He hated my husband and Gracie always knew it. I went through the courts when my ex would not stop badmouthing my husband to Gracie and did not leave her out of the adult issues we were having.

The courts were not helpful at all and sent us to co-parenting classes. Gracie was hesitant with my husband. She adored her dad and didn't want him to feel hurt. This is something she told a therapist when she was young.

Then when she was 8 her dad died and it feels like ever since then there was no way my husband could be anything to her. We never expected him to be her dad. But to be someone she trusts and cares about.

Gracie holds him at arm's length and doesn't treat him like a member of her family. She doesn't include him like she does extended family. An example was last March. She was spotlighted in her art club.

She sent a group chat message to me, both sets of grandparents and her uncles and aunts but did not include my husband. I mentioned it to my husband when I got home and she'd made it home before me and still hadn't told him.

I brought it up to her and she said he wasn't on the need to know list for her. It hurts my husband and I have tried to facilitate their relationship to be more but I don't think it was enough.

A couple of days ago Gracie was saying she needed help with some engineering questions and she wanted to go over to my BIL's (sister's husband) brother's house to ask him some questions.

I asked her why she had to go to all that trouble when my husband could have answered the questions for her. She said it made more sense to her to ask her uncle's brother.

This is when I told her I don't like how she does that, how she treats my husband like he's not there, like he's not part of the family.

I told her we never ever asked her to replace her dad or to consider them the same but she excludes him and keeps him out and he has only ever been kind to her. I told her it's something I would like her to work on.

She got mad and told me I chose to marry him, she didn't choose to have him in her life. She also said it wasn't my business what their relationship is like.

I told her I'm her mom and I love her, and I'm his wife and I love him and I just want them to get along. She's still angry at me and I'm trying to figure out if I did the wrong thing here. AITA?

People from all over commented with their thoughts and advice.

DuhChappers wrote:

I'll say NAH. I think you and Gracie are both coming from genuine emotional places, neither of you said anything trying to hurt the other. It's very natural for you to want her to have a good relationship with your husband.

It's also pretty natural for her, given her life story as you present it, to not feel that close to him. And while it would certainly be very nice if she did put in more effort with him, I don't think it should be required of her.

vomitthewords wrote:

NAH. Nobody did anything wrong, and you're both working through things not being the way you wanted them to be.

It's hard sometimes to see a child attached to the ex that you've had a tough time with, but she is, and she deserves to preserve his memory as her father.

Be patient and let her continue to grow. She may surprise you by coming around to your husband later on. Those teen years are tough on everyone.

Legoshi1993 wrote:

NTA for what you said to her. Sadly, your ex may have completely poisoned Gracie's mind when she was very young, to where she's turned into this hateful teen towards your husband. I don't know if there's ever going to be recovery from this.

And shame on the courts as well. I'm sorry you're having to be stuck in the middle on this. I'd say your now deceased ex is the true AH.

aurora-leigh wrote:

Tricky. Your daughter is a victim of your ex’s manipulation, and may benefit from therapy to unpick this, if she’s not already receiving some.

You’re not an AH for asking Gracie to be more polite and inclusive towards your husband - you’re a family and her actions are rude and hurtful. You tip over slightly into AH territory by demanding that she have a relationship with him.

She doesn’t have to care or love him - particularly when that’s at the moment definitely bound up in her latent grief and loyalty towards her father. But she’s 17 and old enough to know when she’s being deliberately exclusionary and hurtful.

That’s a bullying tactic. She’s old enough to know and do better. I think continuing to ask her to work on being kind and polite, but don’t ask her to consider your husband her family.

She needs to understand that he’s a part of the family, though, and the father of her half-siblings, son-in-law to grandma etc. and he can’t be cut out of family text chains etc. on her whims.

I’m not comfortable making a definitive judgment here. Best of luck!

Unlike many situations in the AITA subreddit, this posts seems to be an AH-free zone, as there's simply too much nuance for the black-and-white judgement.

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