'Unacceptable': Dad Defended for Making Antagonistic Stepson Skip Birthday

Members of a popular internet forum were quick to defend one father who explained why he made his 12-year-old stepson stay home cleaning instead of attending his best friend's birthday party.

In a viral Reddit post published on r/AmITheA**hole, Redditor u/Howtogoon (otherwise referred to as the original poster, or OP) said the boy constantly teases his 11-year-old daughter and detailed how a recent run-in between the two sparked the need for much stricter discipline.

Titled, "[Am I the a**hole] for making my stepson clean the whole house instead of going to a birthday party?" the post has received more than 7,000 votes and nearly 1,200 comments in the last 12 hours.

Writing that his stepson frequently takes things from his daughter's bedroom just to irritate her, the original poster said he tried to nip the habit in the bud and for a moment, thought he was successful in doing so.

"I have told him to stop doing that repeatedly, and told him that each time he does it he will be punished," OP wrote. "The first time after that he took something, he was on trash duty for a week, next time he had to wash the car."

"He pretty much stopped upsetting my daughter after this," OP added.

Unfortunately, the armistice between his daughter and stepson was short-lived.

"Yesterday was my stepson's best friend's birthday party and my stepson was really happy to go, very excited about it," OP wrote. "[But] a few days before this party, he entered my daughter's room and took her diary.

"Stepson said he just does it to annoy her. I said I know, but he has to stop," OP continued. "[He] then yelled at me, saying that this is his house (my daughter and I moved in with my wife and stepson years ago) and he will enter the room whenever he wants."

"I told him that's it, he isn't going to the party and will instead clean the house with me and my wife that day," OP concluded. "My wife says that was an [a**hole] move from me, but I think it's the only way he will learn."

Today in the United States, more than 40 percent of married couples with children are blended, with one or both partners bringing a child from a previous relationship, according to data collected by Pew Research Center.

Despite its prevalence, blending families does not come without a myriad of potential problems.

As 3.9 million children live in a household with a stepparent, common issues arise among millions of households across the country, including heated sibling rivalries and the seeming need to protest against unfamiliar parental authority.

Very Well Family, an online resource for parenting advice and information, reports that conflict between step siblings is expected during in the early stages of family blending, but that conflict between stepchildren and stepparents can be more severe, especially as it pertains to discipline.

With both partners bringing separate parenting styles to the table, children are often torn between adhering to new sets of rules and sticking to the systems they're accustomed to.

"Whereas once the biological parent's boyfriend or girlfriend was someone to have fun with, now they're an authority figure—and that might cause a few problems in the household," Very Well Family reports. "It's imperative that the two of you present a united front on disciplinary issues."

Stepdad punishing son for antagonizing daughter
Members of Reddit's r/AmITheA**hole showed support for one stepfather who kept his stepson from attending a friend's birthday party as punishment for repeatedly antagonizing his daughter. JackF/iStock / Getty Images Plus

In the viral Reddit post, u/Howtogoon said he and his stepson's mother have disagreed on how to discipline the 12-year-old, and made it clear they remain at odds over the boy missing his best friend's birthday party as punishment for his most recent transgression.

However, recommendations for stepparents to always agree on discipline aren't realistic and, in the case of the original poster and his daughter, many Redditors responding to the viral post argued the need for intervention was apparent.

"I think it's fair honestly," Redditor u/WyrdElmBella wrote in the post's top comment, which has received more than 10,000 votes. "It's important to set boundaries and his constant breach of that needs to have consequences."

"The issue of consent and the entitlement to insist he can go wherever he pleases needs immediate intervention," Redditor u/slinkypotato19 added.

Redditor u/winnie120476, whose comment has received nearly 3,000 votes, offered a similar response but shifted focus to the disparity between the original poster and his wife's disciplinary tactics.

"I'm also a bit hung up on the division between your wife and you on punishment," they wrote. "[Your stepson] absolutely knows you two don't agree."

"You and your wife need to sit down and agree on the punishment...otherwise he sees you as the bullying interloper and knows she doesn't concur," they added.

In a separate comment, which has received more than 1,200 votes, Redditor u/efm270 speculated that the original poster's dilemma is indicative of a much larger problem than quarreling preteens.

"It sounds like step son is feeling resentful that you guys moved into his home without him having any say...and is trying to assert his control over the house," they wrote. "He needs to learn about boundaries and consent, but punishment alone isn't going to get at any of the underlying issues."

"If you want this to stop, he needs a better way to express and deal with his feelings about your family," they added.

Newsweek reached out to u/Howtogoon for comment.