Being a stepparent isn't the easiest task, but can certainly be fulfilling.
Whilst you're not their biological parent, you're still a parental figure in the life of that child, but it can certainly pose a tricky conundrum when it comes to boundaries. What ARE your boundaries with your stepchild?! Who decides where the line is? Are you allowed to discipline them? Are you allowed to do things that their biological parent would do for them? Fundamentally, it's all down to communication with your spouse, and establishing these things in a way that everyone understands.
One upset stepdad has taken to Reddit to ask, is he in the wrong for refusing to continue helping to parent his stepchildren after their mum, his wife, told him that he's not allowed to discipline her 16 year old daughter due to not being her dad - despite it being ok for him to fulfil other parenting duties for her, and in light of serious damage being done to his vehicle.
Read the post below...
"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 hands 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.
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."
What was the general consensus?
On the whole, the poster was voted NTA (Not The Asshole), with commenters pointing out that they feel that his wife is picking and choosing scenarios whereby her spouse is allowed to 'be a parent' to suit herself. One comment, which was the most highly rated, highlighed some elements to the story that are actually pretty serious, and suggested that everyone in this situation is wrong (ESH: Everybody Sucks Here).
"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 assholes for obvious reasons. You are an asshole 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?"
We feel for the poster and think that his wife is wildly unfair in her reaction to what her daughter has done - he is well within his rights to step back as clearly his property and position as an adult within the family isn't respected, but it's all fair game when it comes to living in his house, and other parental duties being fulfilled by him. Obviously boundaries in step families will vary between every situation, and it's ok for mum to feel uncomfortable with discipline being part of the stepdad's duties, but at the same time is it then fair to expect him to ferry his stepdaughter around and do 'dad things' for her too? Not really, in our opinion. However, we do agree with the main comment, he doesn't seem to have focused much on the actual crimes committed here, and is more concerned about his feelings being hurt. This needs dealing with properly before any more incidents happen, and if his wife is unwilling to properly address it with her daughter, the poster may need to cut his losses and get the proper authorities involved as this behaviour could escalate.
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