Stepmom places boundaries with her stepson and discontinues preparing him “special meals.”

I’ve been married to my husband for 25 years. He has two children from his previous marriage, Kai, who is 28, and Mia, who is 27. His first marriage ended while his ex was pregnant with Mia when she moved another man into their home and asked him to leave because she intended to marry the other guy. DNA tests were conducted for both Mia and Kai, custody was determined, and the divorce was finalized when Mia was just a baby. I met my husband six months after this, and we got married a year into our relationship.

My husband’s former spouse caused immense turmoil in our lives. She estranged the children from me, leading to repeated court appearances, therapy sessions, mediation, and co-parenting classes in an attempt to improve the situation. Unfortunately, none of these efforts were successful. Her second husband left, exacerbating her behavior, and subsequent marriages also came to an end.

My connection with my stepchildren is deeply saddening. I care for them and have consistently aimed to be a respectful and affectionate stepparent, refraining from speaking ill of their mother, respecting my boundaries, and not assuming they’d feel the same love for me as they do for their parents. Nonetheless, I held hope that we could build a close relationship. They often acted rudely or kept their distance, which was hurtful. Nevertheless, I continued to love them, with my husband taking the lead in their relationship. When my husband and I had our own two children together, it was disappointing that they didn’t develop a strong bond with them. We still hoped that time and therapy might eventually foster some form of connection.

Now, my stepson’s upcoming wedding is approaching. He informed my husband that our kids weren’t invited because it’s going to be a child-free wedding. However, he also specified what I couldn’t wear (as the two mothers were matching the theme, and I wasn’t part of that), mentioned I wouldn’t be given a corsage to indicate I’m not one of the parents, stated I wouldn’t be mentioned in any toasts, and that I wasn’t welcome to give a toast. He even said that I wouldn’t be included in the photos with the parents and immediate family. When my husband asked him about his stance, he told me to understand my place and admitted he didn’t want me there at all. Consequently, I made the difficult choice not to attend and instead stay home with my children. I’ve reached a breaking point where I no longer see a possibility of improving our relationship, and it’s evident that I’m not wanted. However, my husband’s family is upset and believes I should attend because I was technically invited.

AITA?

Aita for deciding not to prepare or assist in preparing an additional meal for my stepson anymore?

Hi there, this is my first post, but I’ve been a long-time reader. I live with my partner (33M) and my two children (16M and 12F). Currently, my partner’s son, CJ (12M), is staying with us for the summer.

CJ has an unusual approach to food. If he decides he doesn’t like something (even without tasting it), he’d rather go hungry. It seems that his mom and grandma, with whom he usually lives, only exposed him to about three specific foods and didn’t introduce him to anything new. At home, if he’s hungry, his mom or grandma immediately prepare one of those three meals for him, no matter what they’re doing.

Nonetheless, in my household, when I prepare dinner, it’s a single meal. This is typically because I prefer to cook everything from scratch or close to it, and it tends to take me longer than I’d like to admit.

By the time I finish, I’m often too exhausted or overheated to create an entirely different dish. However, if someone isn’t fond of what I’ve cooked, I always offer them the option to prepare something else for themselves.

My 16-year-old son is like most teenage boys and has a hearty appetite for almost anything. My 12-year-old daughter is usually open to trying what I cook, but if she genuinely dislikes it, she’s fine with making herself a sandwich.

However, CJ is different. Without even tasting the meal, he’ll request something else. The first time this happened, I suggested he could make himself some chicken nuggets in the microwave.

He informed me that he didn’t know how to do it. Consequently, I’ve patiently demonstrated to him how to microwave his chicken nuggets on at least three separate occasions. Each time, he’s offered excuses, often claiming that he’s forgotten how.

Our microwave is straightforward – you place the food inside, input the appropriate time, and press start. On the fourth occasion he told me he couldn’t do it, I encouraged him to figure it out for himself. His response was, “It’s not my responsibility. Preparing food is something girls should do.”

I informed him that he may treat his mom and grandma as if they were at his beck and call, but in MY home, I won’t be anyone’s servant, and I made it clear that I won’t be assisting him in the future.

However, my partner, CJ’s dad, heard him say this and had a vastly different response. He informed CJ that he’s no longer permitted to request a separate meal and must try whatever is prepared for dinner because it’s not acceptable to treat others, especially women, in that manner.

In general, CJ has enjoyed approximately 75% of the dinners I’ve prepared. However, on evenings when I introduce something new to him, he adamantly declines to try it and will sit there for two hours before taking a bite. By that point, the food has gone cold and lost its appeal.

His dad insists that CJ remains seated at the table until he’s consumed at least half of the meal (even though I serve him a portion similar to that of a toddler, equivalent to about two regular bites or five toddler-sized bites). CJ’s eating habits involve taking bites smaller than those of a toddler.

So, am I wrong for refusing to assist him in preparing a completely separate meal? The majority of the meals I make are quite typical, such as spaghetti and meatballs, steak and potatoes, or chicken and noodles. The most “unusual” thing I’ve ever cooked might have been gyros. Am I the one in the wrong here?

Let’s see what internet users had to say.
User riskie commented:

NTA – It’s like he’s exploiting his inability to do things. He’s become so accustomed to being catered to that it’s now his expectation. He’s certainly old enough to fend for himself.

User daunvalient comments:

NTA, but you should have a conversation with his dad about the practice of keeping him at the table. This isn’t advisable for toddlers, let alone tweens. It might be better to allow him to go hungry a couple of nights until he learns to cook for himself.

You could also consider introducing family cooking nights where each of the kids takes a turn cooking one night a week. This could help lighten your load and teach them valuable life skills. If it becomes enjoyable, even the picky eater might become more interested. Best of luck!

User moonqueen85 comments:

You are not in the wrong; however, I don’t agree with your husband’s approach. CJ should indeed be required to try a substantial portion of whatever you prepare. However, if he doesn’t like it, he should be permitted to make his own meal. This can actually teach him self-sufficiency, which I believe is a more valuable lesson.

It appears that OP is not the one at fault. Do you have any advice for this stepson who’s facing difficulties?

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