AITA: Stopped Parenting When Told 'Not Their Dad' (2024)

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."

Find the main thread here on Reddit.

AITA: Stopped Parenting When Told 'Not Their Dad' (1)

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?"

Our verdict...

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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AITA: Stopped Parenting When Told 'Not Their Dad' (2024)


What age can a child say they don't want to go to their dad? ›

If a child is older and close to reaching the age of 16, then the Court are hesitant to accept these matters as essentially the child is at an age where they can make their own decisions. You will not get in trouble if your child will not stick to the contact arrangement as long as you have encouraged them to do so.

What if my 14 year old doesn't want to see her father? ›

Refusing visitation or parenting time can cause legal trouble. As a co-parent, you are responsible for making sure your child sees their other parent or switches to their other home according to the parenting agreement in place or the controlling Court Order—even if your child really doesn't want to.

Can a dad take his child from the mother in the UK? ›

Withholding a child from another parent is only possible if there is a risk to the child. If you believe someone poses a risk to your child, you can ask the court to make an order stopping them from seeing your child.

What age can a child decide to not see their parents in the UK? ›

What age does a child have a say in their custody arrangements in the UK? SG: “There's no prescribed age for a child's wishes and feelings to be determinative in their contact arrangements.

What happens if my child doesn't want to see his father? ›

If your child is refusing to go to contact then your starting point should be to: Speak with the other parent and explain the difficulties. Engage a family expert if you consider this would be beneficial. Identify support you could draw on to assist you both in managing your new parenting dynamic.

What if my 11 year old doesn't want to see his father? ›

Talk to your child about why they don't want to go

Let your child express their feelings to you without judgment. When it's your turn to respond, do so with kindness and understanding. Show them that you understand their concerns by considering those as a whole family.

Do I have to force my daughter to see her father? ›

Technically, any child who is not yet a legal adult isn't allowed to refuse visitation. In practice, however, the situation is a bit murkier than that. As any parent knows, it can be difficult to force teenagers to do anything they absolutely don't want to do—including visiting a noncustodial parent.

What does an absent father do to a daughter? ›

The absence of a father's consistent presence can lead to feelings of abandonment, rejection, and low self-worth. Fatherless daughters may struggle with their identity, trust, and intimacy, as well as the absence of a positive male role model. However, it is important to remember that healing and growth are possible.

How do you tell your child their dad doesn't want to see them? ›

Here are some tips on how to explain an absent parent to your child.
  1. Give Simple Answers. If your young child asks about their absent parent, try to give simple answers. ...
  2. Let Your Child Know That It's Not Their Fault. ...
  3. Avoid Speaking Bad About the Other Parents. ...
  4. Validate Their Feelings. ...
  5. Be Realistic.
Aug 20, 2021

How many times a week should a dad see his child? ›

However, there is no set guidelines for reasonable access for father. Each family is unique and reasonable access for fathers depends on the individual circ*mstances. Some fathers see their children every day, while others might see them just once a month.

Can my ex leave my child with his girlfriend overnight? ›

Yes, unless there is a risk to your child's safety, your ex can leave your child with his girlfriend.

Can a mother refuse access to the father? ›

The answer is usually no, a parent cannot stop a child from seeing the other parent unless a court order states otherwise. This question often comes up in the following situations. The parents (whether married or unmarried) are no longer together and the child resides with one of the parents.

What is the legal age a child can be left alone in the UK? ›

The law does not say an age when you can leave a child on their own, but it's an offence to leave a child alone if it places them at risk. Use your judgement on how mature your child is before you decide to leave them alone, for example at home or in a car.

How long does a father have to be absent to lose his rights in the UK? ›

In England and Wales, there is no legal timeframe after which a father automatically loses parental rights due to absence.

How much does it cost to go to court for child custody in the UK? ›

It costs £255 to apply for a court order. You may be able to get help paying court fees if you're on benefits or a low income.

What if my child doesn't want to visit his father? ›

The first thing you should do when a child refuses visitation is to notify the other parent as soon as possible. Let them know what's happening, and explain the situation as clearly as possible. Some custody orders include preferred communication methods, and you should notify them via that method when possible.

How old do you have to be to not go to your dads? ›

There is no definitive age when a child can decide to stop visitation, but the courts do tend to look more kindly on older children or teenagers refusing visitation. However, without a change to a custody agreement, a child is legally obligated to follow the visitation schedule.

What age can my daughter stop seeing her dad? ›

Removal of Parental Responsibility

Parental responsibility lasts until a child reaches the age of 18 or marries between the ages of 16 and 18. In reality, it gives parents the responsibility to make important decisions about the child.

At what age can a child say they don't want to live with a parent? ›

Generally speaking, 14 and above is the proper age, but many states do not have a set age, they rather take the child's wishes into consideration beginning at age 14, but no actual age to make such a decision.

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