“She Threw A Fit”: Dad Tells 12-Year-Old She’ll Have To Give Up Her Room And Move In With A 4-Year-Old, Looks For Validation Online But Gets Called Out Instead
Many remarriages create blended families, and the children involved are thrown into a world of “steps” – stepmothers, stepfathers, step-siblings, and step-grandparents. As of 2019, more than 3.9 million kids lived in households with stepparents in the United States.
Once uncommon in American culture, 7% of kids are now part of blended families. And their parents sometimes struggle just as much as the children themselves when navigating this dynamic.
Father and Reddit user AdeptPromise9890 posted a story to the platform’s ‘Am I the [Jerk]?’ community, seeking opinions on how he rearranged his household’s living situation. However, many believed that he should have given more thought to his decisions, as his daughter from his previous marriage ended up at a disadvantage.
Image credits: Pavel Danilyuk (not the actual image)
Image credits: Kenny Eliason (not the actual image)
Image credits: AdeptPromise9890
Image credits: cottonbro studio
You can definitely understand the 12-year-old’s frustration. As kids grow up, they want more privacy. Experts recommended that children over the age of 10 should have their own bedrooms – even if they have siblings or step-siblings.
Some places even have legislation stating that children of the opposite sex over the age of 10 should not share rooms and that this can be considered overcrowding.
Image credits: Julia M Cameron
As teenagers grow up, they seek more responsibility and independence. They want to be trusted to do more than they did when they were younger and they want to be thought of as mature. They also want their opinions and desires to be respected.
“Privacy and trust link back to attachment,” said Angela Lamson, Ph.D., LMFT, who is a family therapist in Greenville, North Carolina, and human development and family science professor at East Carolina University. Giving teens space and privacy lets them feel trusted, as well as capable, independent, and self-assured. It shows them that you are confident with their judgment, intentions, decision-making, and ability to follow your rules.
On the other hand, when teens believe their privacy has been invaded, the result is often more conflict at home.
Image credits: Josue Michel
It’s hard enough for a child to compete with siblings. When it’s step-siblings that they’re not entirely comfortable with yet, the problem can magnify.
When the number of children increases, as it frequently does in blended families, one or all the kids might feel like they’re not getting the attention that they’re used to.
But as with many other issues, this problem can be resolved by working together as a family. While we don’t have the full picture, it sounds like the author of the Reddit post might need to spend more time listening to his kids, trying to understand their needs.
According to Mallory Williams, LCSW, there are serious long-term effects to growing up in a household of parental favoritism.
“The biggest long-term dangers are depression, anxiety, unstable or even traumatic reactions in personal relationships, and performance anxiety for both the favored and non-favored children,” she said.
“The non-favored child will experience low self-worth and value, feelings of rejection and inadequacy, and a sort of ‘giving up’ due to feeling like they can never be worthy of the same attention, love, and affection that the favored child receives. This often has long-term implications on their performance on jobs, in school, and in interpersonal relationships, as the parenting relationship sets the foundation and expectations of future relationships.”
Let’s hope these folks will find a way to make everyone happy.