A stepmother is being criticized for wanting to pull her stepdaughter out of her boarding school following her junior year of high school.
Writing to the popular r/AmITheA**hole subreddit, u/steptal49 earned over 4,100 upvotes and 3,000 comments for her question, “AITA for wanting my stepdaughter to switch schools in her Junior year to live with us?”
She says that she has been married for the last two years, and the couple has five children: his daughter from his previous marriage, 16; her two sons from a previous relationship, 13 and 15; plus two children ages 3 and 1 that they had together. The 16-year-old lived with her mother until eighth grade, when she got a scholarship to an unnamed, prestigious boarding school.
“I’ve never agreed with the idea of sending teenagers to live away from family, but her mother and my then fiance agreed that it would be beneficial for her. They drafted a new custody agreement to reflect the new school schedule. My husband moved out of state, so he always had summers and holidays anyway,” she wrote.
When they married, she says she thought her stepdaughter was only a day boarder, but it turned out that she stayed at the school full-time. As they married in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it wasn’t safe to remove her from school—though the stepdaughter wanted to stay anyway.
Now that things have opened up, u/steptal49 found out that her stepdaughter’s mother moved back home—out of the country—six months ago, and that the 16-year-old is managing her own money.
“This means that there’s now not even a parent in the same state or even side of the country from my stepdaughter. She is completely independent in her day-to-day life,” she wrote.
“My stepdaughter has every weekend unsupervised to do whatever she pleases, and independent access to not only multiple major cities, but is only a day trip from another country that she has dual citizenship in,” she continued. “I’ve seen Facebook posts of her just going to art shows in other states without her having even pretended to ask one of her parents for permission. This isn’t acceptable.”
She added that she doesn’t think it’s “okay for a teenager to just go live her own life, especially to this degree.” She says that this is a double-standard as she wouldn’t allow her sons to live alone, and that her sons press her on why her stepdaughter has freedoms they don’t have.
“She’s my child too, and this needs to stop. She needs to change schools to be either with her mother or with us and be part of a family,” she wrote.
Her husband, however, is against the idea, and that it’s okay because she was “raised differently” and “just more responsible.” She says that he’s “lying to himself” if he thinks his daughter isn’t taking advantage of him. She also says her stepdaughter is “very resistant” to the idea, “no doubt doesn’t want to actually have rules.”
There are pros and cons of boarding schools. Boarding schools, in addition to offering often high-class educations, teach students to be independent, according to The Education Daily. However, they can be very expensive, and lead to homesickness and extra pressure.
In addition, it’s important to make sure a boarding school is a good one. In Roald Dahl’s childhood memoir Boy, he tells a number of horror stories about his time in an abusive boarding school that would regularly beat the children. Of course, in this case, it appears that u/steptal49’s stepdaughter is not at such a school, and enjoys her time there.
Reddit was nearly exclusively against u/steptal49.
“[You’re the A**hole] she’s at boarding school and doesn’t need to ask permission to see art shows. You’re being dramatic and she’s not even your child. On top of that you’re controlling. You’re acting as if she’s getting drunk and high every night and interacting with bad people her age/older. Calm down. You have no good reason for her to change schools and you’re over stepping your role. Her parents already created a plan and you have to respect that,” u/everythingswift wrote in the top-rated comment with 14,200 upvotes.
The original poster hit back at this reply, saying that the art shows were “just an example,” and that the stepdaughter “has the easiest set-up in the world to hide anything.”
“I don’t want to get too specific because it would be too easy to dox, but with the set-up of that situation and certain specific cultural circumstances. she could get alcohol and some drugs very easily from certain stores and organizations,” u/steptal49 continued.
“For example, good luck getting a bodega in Brighton Beach to check an ID,” she added.
She also replied to another user, who said that the school was overseeing her.
“I don’t see how any oversight could be in place when you can just hop a train within walking distance from the school,” u/steptal49 said.
Other users said she was overreacting and making up scenarios without evidence.
“She has a life where she is a good school friends I’m assuming and you’re trying to uproot her to live in a new state away from everything she knows to live in a house with 6 people 2 of whom are literal babies get a grip you sound like the evil step mom,” u/OK-Percentage-2930 wrote. “You have no reason not to trust her and she’s not your child you have no say whatsoever and if you continue to push this anger she is displaying will turn into resent and hatred let her real parents do the parenting she sounds to be a responsible kid.”
“You sound just like my mother. She was convinced I was doing things behind her back. Every time I felt sick she accused me of being pregnant. She just ‘knew’ I was doing it,” u/LadyLightTravel wrote “Except that I wasn’t. I was an honor roll student who worked her way through university and then became an engineer. I never did drugs ever. I never smoked. Didn’t drink. All my friends were honor roll too. But the accusations kept coming. This is called ‘projection’ and says way more about you than her. This is what you would do given the opportunity at her age.”
“I think OP’s got GossipGirl meets Euphoria running through her brain and thinking her SD is out clubbing & drinking martinis at a ChuckBass drug orgy then ending up human trafficking victim,” u/CarrieCat62 wrote.
“I went to boarding school and I guarantee you she is getting permission to do that stuff FROM THE SCHOOL. Boarding schools are not hippie communes, they’re responsible for the safety and welfare of hundreds of children and they have rules and safeguards in place to manage that,” u/Kaia455 wrote.
Newsweek reached out to u/steptal49 for comment.