Family dynamics can get a little complicated when two people with kids get married, but part of parenting is knowing how to handle those complications.
Stealing all of the birthday and holiday money meant for your stepchildren to make your biological child feel better is definitely not the right way to go about it.
Reddit user FairyKinn asked the subReddit AmITheA**hole for some advice on whether she was in the wrong in a recent family disaster that involved her stepbrother and his kids.
"AITA for outing my brother as a liar and a thief to his wife and potentially causing her to divorce him?"
She then provided all the florid details of the situation.
"Relevant BG: My brother (David) is my step brother and lived in Europe for about 10 years. He has one kid (15 f, Martha) He married a woman (Donna) with 2 children about 5 years ago. Kids are currently 16 (Rose) and 9 (Jack) He moved back to our hometown in Ontario in January. They are staying in my house until their house closes at the end of March."
Relations were a bit tense in the house with the additional occupants, but FairyKinn though that might just be homesickness or cultural differences. No such luck.
"Nope, she hates me and most of our family."
A birthday party for David's stepdaughter brought the whole story to light, disastrously.
"Last weekend was Rose's birthday and we had a small family party for her. A few days later, Rose asked me why I gave her a present. I explained to her that I usually give cash to the older kids, but since this was my first opportunity to buy her a physical present I decided to do that."
Then Rose dropped a confusing bombshell of information that explained her mother and brother's attitudes towards the Canadian side of the family.
"Then she asked why we had suddenly decided to acknowledge her birthday at all, since we haven't in the past."
FairyKinn, and many other Canadian family members, had been sending all 3 kids money on birthdays and holidays since David and Donna got married, but apparently it hadn't been making its way to two of the kids.
"Rose tells me that her and Jack have never received anything from any person in our family, only Martha has. I told her there must have been a mistake and I would look into it."
Donna eventually confronted FairyKinn for more information. She got hard proof that the money had been sent.
"Rose must have said something to Donna because she came and asked me about it. I showed her the proof that I had sent money for all 3 kids at Christmas, as well as Jack's Birthday in the summer, and offered to show her my bank account, email confirmation and facebook messages to bro, I would just need time to go through my records and email account. She said no."
When confronted, David revealed that he had been keeping the money meant for his stepchildren because, at some point in the past, Martha said it made her jealous that her family accepted and was sending money to her stepsiblings.
So David just pretended they weren't getting money or love from his family.
"Donna and David argued for hours about it. Donna eventually came and apologized for thinking the worst of us and took her kids to a hotel. I kicked David out for being a lying POS thief."
Now, it might seem pretty clear that David was definitely the a-hole in this situation, but not all of FairyKinn's family agrees. Some are blaming her for causing a rift in the family.
She also revealed that, because other members of the family were sending generous gifts for the kids too, $25,000 (Canadian) is a conservative estimate of the amount of money David stole over the course of 5 years of marriage to Donna.
"Now our family is divided, half think I'm an asshole and shouldn't have said anything and the other half want to cut him out for stealing from us."
"So am I the a**hole? Should I have just kept quiet and not said anything?"
Reddit's answer was a resounding "Not the A**hole."
"100% NTA, your brother was stealing FROM HIS CHILDREN. You can't get much lower than that. He has earned the repercussions from his actions. Was he hurting for money?" -laielelf
"I don't think so, but can't be 100% sure. I don't think he would have told me if he was." -FairyKinn
"Yeah so unless he really needed the money he wanted his wife and her children to feel isolated and unsupported by your family (or he just doesn't like the kids). I am glad his wife has this information and acted on it. Your brother is a real piece of work" - laielelf
"This is an easy NTA! You're not the liar. You're not the thief. You are just as much of a victim as your brother's family is... he sounds like a real garbage person." -artlanta
"NTA. Truth almost always comes out. I'd think less of you if you had hid the truth from his wife. Her response is a direct result of his actions, and has nothing to do with you."
"When surprised, you told your niece the truth, and confirmed that you had always cared about her. It probably meant a lot for her to realize that your family has been giving her and her brother presents, rather than ostracizing them. Your brother is the one who choose to sacrifice a part of Rose & Jack's happiness." -Unfettered_Silence
"NTA. Your brother purposefully took money from his step kids and allowed them and his wife to think your family was playing favorites. It sounds like he doesn't care much for his step kids or his wife for that matter. What a pr*ck." -anxiousoracles
"NTA People are upset at you because the truth of this matter is uncomfortable for them and they'd rather everyone in the world die than deal with the uncomfortable truth, your brother was stealing money and lying." -infinitybagel
Some also commented that this should have been a teaching moment for David to let Martha know that her family loving her stepsiblings didn't mean they loved her less, but he chose to just steal the money instead.
"NTA. He's scummy. And even worse, he's teaching Martha THAT IT'S OKAY TO BE SCUMMY. He chose to hide the money in his pocket because Martha had issues with her new siblings and all he is doing is teaching her entitlement." -absurdapple
"I'm not saying you should be mad at her, I'm just saying that he's teaching her that it's okay to do things like this. Instead of teaching her empathy, he's teaching her entitlement. She doesn't like her new siblings? Okay, well that's fine dear, I'll just make it seem like no one likes them while I pocket this money. That's just wrong. It makes her feel justified in her feelings instead of teaching her to try to love her blended family." -absurdapple
While FairyKinn was definitely not the a**hole in this situation, she still has to deal with half of her family blaming her for it. Hopefully knowing that she did do the right thing will make that easier.