In a viral Reddit post published on r/AmITheA******, Redditor u/throwawayfianceissue (otherwise referred to as the original poster, or OP) said her partner frequently sets her kids up for failure, and revealed at which point she realized enough was enough.
Titled, “[Am I the a******] for calling my fiancé delusional and not letting him punish my son?” the post has received more than 10,000 upvotes and 3,000 comments since November 4.
“I have [three] kids from my former marriage,” OP began. “My fiancé loves them and treats them as his own, but he constantly complains about certain behaviors.”
Continuing to explain that her fiance is a teacher and can take discipline “a bit far,” the original poster said she noticed him conducting a series of tests, like leaving his journal out for potential snoopers or leaving money in the open for potential thieves.
For his most recent test, the original poster said her fiance falsely told the kids he lost a dollar and offered a $10 prize for whoever found it, just to see which of the three children would prioritize winning over telling the truth.
“The kids began searching the house for an hour. My 7 [and] 11 year olds couldn’t find a thing, but my 14-year-old went to my fiancé and told him he found the dollar and gave it to him,” OP wrote. “My fiancé lost it.
“[My son] pretended to have found the dollar but in reality he took it from his allowance…hoping to get that 10 dollars,” OP continued. “My fiancé said that because of my son’s dishonesty and greed, he’ll punish him by taking all his allowance for the month, as well as [his] electronics.
“[I] called him delusional because those mind games were getting ridiculous…I refused to let him punish him [and] now he’s calling me an enabler and said that this attitude…undermines his authority as a parent,” OP added. “He said… ‘I will not tolerate having greedy and dishonest individuals live under my roof.'”
Last year, data published by SmartStepfamilies showed that 40 percent of married couples with children in the U.S. were considered step-couples, or blended families, with at least one partner being accompanied by a child from a previous relationship.
But while Pew Research Center reports that 16 percent of children in the U.S. are living with a stepparent and step-siblings, a figure that has remained stable since the 1990s, the steady prevalence of blended families has not made joining separate, nuclear units any easier than it was decades ago.
Blended families often face myriad challenges centered around newly shared spaces, awkward relationships with new family members and the uncomfortable strife between children and new authority figures.
Although stepparents may feel it necessary to put their foot down right away, implementing their own disciplinary policies and setting their own household rules, overstepping certain boundaries with stepchildren is almost always guaranteed to yield negative results, especially when adults aren’t on the same page.
“When partners disagree on how to raise children, the lack of alignment can be destructive,” Dr. Carla Manly, clinical psychologist and Joy From Fear author, told Newsweek.
“Parenting matters are often more difficult when stepchildren are in the mix, particularly if partners have different childrearing styles and expectations,” Manly added.
Any disagreement between partners on how to raise children immediately raises the potential for volatility, both in the relationship and for the children involved.
To avoid such volatility, Manly recommends that partners come together to create “clear, comfortable parenting guidelines,” and that those guidelines are followed closely.
“When partners collaboratively create healthy rules and expectations for parenting, the relationship and the children will tend to thrive,” Manly told Newsweek. “If childrearing issues are ignored or mismanaged, the home environment can become a hotbed of discontent.”
On multiple occasions throughout her viral Reddit post, the original poster made her discontent with her soon-to-be husband’s disciplinary tactics clear.
However, as many Redditors responding to the viral post pointed out, she only acted on that discontent after things went too far.
“[You’re the a**hole],” Redditor u/Standard-Park wrote in the post’s top comment, which has received more than 35,000 upvotes. “For letting him abuse your children.”
“This man is gaslighting [the f***] out of your children,” Redditor u/quintessence314 commented. “You need to get him the heck away from your vulnerable children.”
Redditor u/Continuar2, whose comment has received more than 11,000 upvotes, echoed that sentiment.
“He’s manipulating your children,” they wrote. “You’re letting him.”
“These are your kids and his tests are psychologically damaging,” Redditor u/Misha2468 added, receiving more than 8,000 upvotes. “They are probably on egg shells because of the antics of your fiancé.”
“Do you want your kids to feel unsafe in their own home?” Redditor u/Significant_Rule_855 chimed in. “Is getting married really more important than your children’s safety and well being?”
Newsweek has reached out to u/throwawayfianceissue for comment. We could not verify the details of the case.
If you have a similar family dilemma, let us know via firstname.lastname@example.org. We can ask experts for advice, and your story could be featured on Newsweek.