A concerned mother took to Reddit to share the very unsettling way that her husband has been discipling his stepkids. “I (f36) lost my late husband years ago, I’m now married to my husband of 2 years ‘Jason,'” she began. “He loves his stepkids (9-6) and does a lot of things with them. However, he started doing something lately that I find weird and [un]acceptable.”
Apparently, whenever the kids do something wrong, the stepdad will hold up a photo of their late father and berate them. “He starts addressing [the photo] complaining about the kids behaviors while the kids stand and listen, he then proceeds to tell them their dad is mad at them and is disappointed they did this or that,” she explained. “The kids would sometimes feel so guilty they’d start crying then ask if dad is really disappointed in them cause their stepdad told them he told him that.” The stepdad even went so far as to claim that their deceased father said he would “disown” one of them because of their actions.
The mom confronted her husband but he told her she was overreacting. “He was like ‘this way they’ll learn, and if they really love their dad, then they’ll behave.’ I said ‘listen! The kids love and will always love their dad and what you’re doing is causing damage to their love and rememberance for their dad.”
He then told her that she needs to “respect” his parenting. The Reddit user’s sister sided with the husband, saying that he “clearly cares about the kids otherwise he wouldn’t care about them correcting and never repeating their mistakes.”
Now, the Reddit user is questioning herself. “Aita for my reaction?” she asked.
No, no, 1,000 times no, Reddit responded.
“He’s not parenting your children, he’s traumatizing them. Repeatedly and deliberately,” one person wrote. “First of all, he is using their father as a proxy to avoid taking responsibility as a parent himself, blaming their dad for every ‘mean’ and difficult thing he has to do as a stepfather, for every punishment, every negative association, etc.”
Another added: “The sad thing is that at those young ages, this sort of thing will likely wipe out any real memories of their dad. So all they will know in the end is the horrible lies step-dad made up to manipulate them.”
Many people suggested that the Reddit user consider leaving her husband. “This is grounds for divorce in my opinion,” someone noted. “The man is trying to sully the memory of their father so he can come off looking like the good guy. It’s absolutely manipulation and emotional abuse. And then he gaslighted you about it when you confronted him!”
“Do not relent; stay strong and forbid this behavior,” another commenter encouraged. “See a counselor’s input if you truly are doubting your response or don’t know how to change this dynamic. Best to you and your children. They are at a precious vulnerable stage in life; be their protector.”
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