Grandmother Buys Nice Gifts for Grandchildren But a Dollar Store Sketchpad for Son’s Stepdaughter

Blended families face more challenges than nuclear families.

Parents must exert extra effort to put balance in their new family dynamic, and even if that’s achieved, balance in blended families is often very delicate.

Children are the ones who also find it harder to live in a blended family. They lack the wisdom of adults, and their sentiments fuel the confusion that arises from inevitable changes at home.

Photo: YouTube/Focus on the Family

According to Good Therapy, while parents may have to deal with different parenting styles and developing new relationships, children are often not prepared for the following dilemmas:

  • Relationship between child and stepparent. Having a new stepparent may pose a difficulty for a child. Even if the relationship starts in friendship, a child may resent having that “friend” turn into a stepparent because he may feel like the latter is seeking to replace his other parent. Trust is another aspect that may be challenging for a child to give to a stepparent after experiencing “abandonment” after a divorce or the concern about being “disloyal” to a biological parent if he becomes deeply attached to a stepparent.
  • Relationship between child and stepsiblings. Sibling rivalry can become more bitter between stepbrothers and stepsisters. Kids may feel that they have to rival one another for attention and power in their new home. Fear that their biological parents may favor their stepsiblings more may also arise. Bullying may also happen.
  • Visitation and parenting plans. Children may have less freedom and flexibility with these new structures. Also, kids may complain to their biological parents about their stepparents. This can create further tension between separated parents.
  • Grief and loss after divorce. A remarriage may trigger a child’s grief over the loss of a parent, whether in death or divorce. A child must be allowed to complete his grieving process to be able to open up again. It often takes time, and a child should not be forced to recover from the loss as quickly as his parent and new stepparent want.

In this story of a blended family, this man’s stepdaughter has not learned to completely accept him. The teenage girl calls him Mister plus his surname, while at the same time she wants to be valued like any other member of his extended family.

Photo: Pexels/Nitin Khajotia

Posting his story on Reddit’s r/AmItheA–hole forum, this man talked about this kind of problem with his wife and her daughter by first marriage under the username u/aitaaccount457. He started with the following details: “I (42) have a step daughter ‘Liz’ (17) from my wife ‘Kate’ (42) first marriage. Me and Kate also have a daughter ‘Emma’ (3) together. Liz doesn’t call me dad and usually refers to me as Mr. my last name. I’ll be honest that this bothered me a little, but this is what Liz feels comfortable with, so I never pushed it. We’re not close, but we have a good relationship overall, and she loves Emma.”

But knowing how her son’s stepdaughter treats him apparently didn’t sit well with OP’s mother. It came to the surface during their recent yuletide celebration, when OP’s mom handed expensive gifts to her biological grandkids and a dollar-store sketch pad to Liz.

The discriminatory gesture hurt Liz and her mom. This was what happened next based on OP’s words: “Liz (and Kate) were disappointed, and Kate pulled my mom aside later (I was around) to say she shouldn’t have given the gifts out in front of everyone and Liz is hurt. Basically my mom ended up replying that she went out of her way to get Liz a gift as a grandma when Liz doesn’t even consider me any kind of father figure. If they (Liz and Kate) have such an issue with the gifts, they can go ask Liz’s real father for a gift.”

Photo: Pexels/Nicole Michalou

As a result, OP’s wife started to make a scene, saying his mom has no respect for her and her daughter. OP made an effort to calm things down and he also told his mom that she was a little harsh. On the other hand, he said to his wife that she was ruining the occasion for no reason. His mom simply responded to her after their complaint about the holiday gifts.

A couple of weeks after the incident, OP’s wife was still upset about how her daughter was given a cheaper gift. But OP argued that the sketch pad was not a random item but a practical gift, since Liz is an artist. OP remains adamant that he didn’t do anything wrong and that most of his family members were on his side.

It was his brother who advised OP to share the matter with the AITA community if it’s still an issue. And so, after posting this, what did the AITA members think?

Commenters lambasted OP and his mother for being unfair and cruel to his stepdaughter.


Alarmed_Jellyfish555 wrote, “I….WHAT?!?! ‘Go ask your dead dad for a present’ …OP is defending this?! And blaming his wife for being rightfully upset about both the favoritism and the unforgivably cruel remark?! I hope Kate has started contacting divorce lawyers. There is no coming back from this. YTA. You and your mother are the biggest a-holes of them all.”

Mypetmummy likewise expressed, “Especially since that remark is hurtful to Kate too. That’s her former husband and presumably someone she loved very much. I can’t imagine being in a second marriage as a widow and having a partner who is cool with my massive loss being used as a weapon against my child and me. Truly evil.”

No_Education_4771 couldn’t hold back anger either: “Holy Crap! YTA a million times over. You say you’re not bothered by it, but, apparently, you’ve bitched and complained enough to your Mom that Mommy dearest has taken up the offense for you. Congrats, your stepdaughter will now never call you anything other than Mr. A-hole! I feel so sorry for her and for your wife. How awful to have to live with you and know you’ll never have their back.”

More criticism from jlrnr: “Yeah, it feels like OP let mom do the dirty work for him, and he secretly thinks Liz deserved it (while being very careful not to voice that explicitly). He seems to have secretly enjoyed mom’s dig at Liz (both the cheap present and the horrible remark). OP and mom are both huge AHs.”

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