The internet is torn over a situation involving a woman who picked up her drunk stepson from a party without telling her husband about it.
The now-viral Reddit post, titled, “AITA for not telling my husband where his son was,” has received 8,000 upvotes and over 800 comments. The post was shared to the subreddit “Am I The A**hole” on May 31 by Redditor @big_yikes_chief, who said she is a 27-year-old woman.
According to the Pew Research Center, more than four in 10 Americans have a step relative in their individual family in the form of a stepparent, a step or half-sibling, or a stepchild. In a survey of more than 2,600 adults, 42 percent said they have a step relative. In addition, three in 10 respondents have a step or half-sibling.
The woman said she is married to her 37-year-old husband, and they were wed four years ago. He has three children from a previous marriage, twin boys who are 16, and a 13-year-old girl.
From the beginning, the original poster (OP) was “clear” with the kids that although she’d like a relationship, she’d never try and “force” them into something.
“And, for the most part, that’s been going about as well as you’d expect,” the woman explained. “I’m Dad’s wife, nothing more.”
But she said when the twins started learning to drive during the previous summer, she told them that driving would “give them new freedom,” and she knew the stuff teens get into. She told them that while she gets that’s a part of “growing up,” their safety was “most important.”
She added: “So if they ever felt like they were in an unsafe situation and needed an out, don’t hesitate to call me. I would come get them no matter what, no questions asked, And Dad didn’t have to know (husband and his ex tend to be very liberal with punishments). They brushed me off at the time, and I thought very little of it.”
But last Friday one of the twins was supposed to be sleeping at a friend’s place after prom. At 2:30 in the morning the OP was playing a game when she received a call from him. He explained “in a shaky and slurred voice” that he was at a house party for a senior girl, and that his friend who drove him had “ditched” him.
“And he had been drinking,” she added. “A lot. And please don’t tell Dad. I’ve already snuck out of the house, and I just say, ‘Don’t worry, your father’s asleep and I’m on my way.’ He texts me the address after some coaxing and within 30 minutes I’m discreetly shuffling a drunken, shaking boy into my passenger seat. He’s crying within five minutes of leaving. I did my best to comfort him.”
She got the boy some food from McDonald’s and got him home, sneaking him back into his room and getting him into bed. She didn’t sleep because she was checking on him “constantly” to ensure he didn’t have signs of alcohol poisoning.
Her husband left for work early Saturday, so he didn’t notice the boy was home. The teen had a slight hangover, but he was fine, she said. And ever since, the twins have “warmed” toward the woman. She even heard him describe the house as his Dad’s and stepmom’s, not just his Dad’s.
“But, yesterday, my husband put two and two together after some combination of local gossip and testimony from his daughter [about] what actually happened, and it came out what I did,” the OP said. “Obviously, he was mad that I knew and didn’t tell him.”
The woman told her partner that she wouldn’t say sorry for showing the boy to ask for assistance in “bad situations,” and she wouldn’t “condone punishing him” for doing what he should to “fix a mistake” he had learned from.
But her husband said she “undercut” him as the boy’s father by going behind his back like that. The teen’s mom thought the woman “overstepped entirely.” However, the OP thought she did the correct thing.
In a comment to another Redditor, the OP added that her husband “definitely would have punished” the boy for being at a home that wasn’t the house he said he was going to be at.
“Never mind other kids drinking,” the woman said.
She also mentioned she’s “sure” the fact that it was a girl’s home “kills” her husband as well. The OP said the teen “would have been like seven different flavors of grounded even if he hadn’t been drunk himself. And while I understand the reasoning behind his reaction, I do think he has a tendency to fly off the handle when it comes to the twins and assume the worst. I semi-regularly have to talk him down from ‘grounded forever’ verdicts.”
Over 800 comments poured in over the viral post, and many people were backing the woman for assisting the teen. However, not everyone would agree that she did the right thing by not telling her partner about what transpired.
One Redditor wondered what the alternative was, and they also questioned why people can’t see the “bigger picture,” insisting, “Punish a kid for being honest and you teach that kid to withhold information and to learn how not to get caught. If they have no safe place, they are on an island of their own. Sad.”
One comment received 15,400 upvotes on its own, and the Redditor didn’t think the OP is the one at fault. They reason it’s “so incredibly rare” for a teen to “feel a strong enough connection with an adult” that they’d reach out when they “don’t feel safe,” adding, “you could have easily saved him a hospital visit or a slow death on a high school girl’s floor. You absolutely did the right thing, and you’re an amazing stepmother.”
Another user thought teens need more of those in their lives that will say, “Let’s get you cleaned up,” not “You’re grounded forever,” and they reasoned, “The boy probably learned a lot more from that evening than he would have if dad had showed up yelling. He’s safe. That’s what matters.”
A Redditor thought it ended up being a “win-win for the family,” and they added, “NTA [not the a**hole]. There’s a reason he called you. He needed you. You rescued him, brought him home safely, took care of him. Now he knows he can trust you.”
However, not everyone agreed with the woman’s actions. A Redditor, who thought the OP was in the wrong, expressed that covering up for the teen to “win them over” is going to “backfire” on the woman in the long run. They agreed with the statement she made to come get them, but they thought the woman’s “follow-through” was lacking.
“My parents had a similar rule, and while they made it clear that my safety was the most important thing, that didn’t mean that automatically there would be zero consequences,” they said. “Your 16-year-old stepson snuck out of the house and went to a party where he drank alcohol. Can you honestly state that you don’t think there should be consequences for that?”
Another user weighed in, and they went with “Everyone Sucks Here,” or ESH for their verdict. They agreed that picking up the teen was the correct action, and they applaud the teen for making the right choice to get home in a safe manner.
“However, you’ve shown your husband he can’t trust you not to hide things from him,” they added. “I get it you didn’t want to see your son get in trouble based on how mom and dad act, but it is not your place to parent him. Honestly, if you were that afraid with how dad would react in this situation I don’t know why you would stay married to him.”
While a user thought what the woman did was a “good thing,” they still thought she was the one at fault. They reasoned they aren’t her kids, and she doesn’t get to make decisions for them.
“You don’t get to hide things from their parents,” they added. “This would be a serious issue and a possible divorce from me. You went behind my back, lied to me, and then continued to further lie to me, about my child. Not OK.”
Newsweek reached out to Redditor @big_yikes_chief for comment.
This isn’t the only viral moment involving stepparents. A man sparked outrage after he ripped up his stepson’s drawing of his family. A stepmother was bashed for wanting to force her stepdaughter to go to SeaWorld. In addition, the internet backed a woman who wouldn’t let her stepson “honor” his deceased mother at her upcoming wedding.