This Redditor faced pressure from her husband and stepdaughter to care for a baby that wasn’t hers. When she declined, both became upset and called her a selfish jerk who didn’t love them!
A New Family
OP (Original Poster), a 38-year-old woman, married her 47-year-old husband, Sam, five years before she posted this story. It was no secret that OP didn’t aspire to have “children of her own,” and Sam fully understood and accepted her decision.
While OP is child-free, Sam has a 25-year-old daughter named Leah from a previous marriage. Leah lost her mother when she was just 10 years old, and OP entered Sam and Leah’s lives when Leah was 15.
OP didn’t meet Leah until she and Sam had been dating for a year, and when they met, OP immediately thought that Leah was a “sweet, young adult,” and they instantly hit it off!
Even so, it wasn’t until Leah moved out for college that OP moved in with Sam.
An Unplanned Surprise
Leah’s life took an unexpected turn when she became pregnant the year before this story was posted. Leah’s boyfriend, unwilling to take on the role of a father, chose to step away from the situation, ultimately leading to their breakup.
So, Leah returned to live with OP and Sam because she couldn’t sustain her lifestyle independently. After all, she worked on a teacher’s salary while her ex-boyfriend was the breadwinner of their household.
Stay Out of It
Naturally, OP was concerned about how Leah, as a single mother and a teacher, would manage to raise a child independently. She suggested asking for child support from Leah’s ex-boyfriend, but Leah was adamant about not going down that path.
Sam thought OP should “stay out of it.” Then, they later found out that Leah was still in love with her ex, and she was worried that throwing a court case for a decision she made on her own might spook him away.
Reality Sets In
As the baby arrived and the last four months unfolded, Leah seemed to realize that “having a baby is not the sunshine and rainbows she thought it was.” OP wrote, “She barely got any sleep during the last four months. All the while, Sam was helping her with the baby while I did almost all the chores myself.”
Unfortunately, Leah’s maternity leave was ending soon, and she did not want to leave the baby in daycare or with a nanny—her only options, given she, her dad, and OP were all working full-time. So, despite knowing OP worked full-time, she turned to her for some assistance, but OP declined, saying, “First, it is not my baby, and I never wanted to raise a child. Second, I have work.”
Who’s It Going to Be?
To find a solution, Leah approached Sam, hoping he could persuade OP to reconsider. Sam himself couldn’t take time off work as the breadwinner.
OP wrote, “Sam is refusing to cut down hours himself since he can’t afford bills himself. Let me clarify. He had refinanced this house to pay for her college education and did not want her to have any loans. I had suggested we downsize from this three-bedroom house to a one-bedroom—one we can both afford. He wanted to have space for his daughter. I understood that, but I couldn’t afford to pay for it.”
Because of this, OP and Sam came to an understanding that OP wouldn’t pay for the house and wouldn’t have any rights to the house either, making it Sam’s most significant payment. They split the rest of the expenses proportionate to their income until Leah moved back in.
In terms of the baby’s child care, OP and Sam don’t believe it was “realistic” for Leah to think that her ex would return. But OP said, “We don’t think she is being realistic, but have decided to table that talk for later since Sam is anyway ready to fund the baby’s life. And child support can be demanded with back pay when she decides to follow up.”
A Heavy Load
OP recognized that Sam intended to continue supporting Leah for as long as he could and she desired, but while she respected his commitment as a devoted father, saying it was “admirable” of him to do, it was not the life OP had initially envisioned. She said, “Loving grandmother that babysits occasionally? Sure. But raising Leah and her baby? Nope.”
On the flip side, Leah was adamant about continuing work, saying she was “young and had to build a career.” OP wrote, “She loves the school she works at and does not want to leave it. She claims reducing hours will impact her career trajectory, and since she wants to work, she might as well work full-time.”
Can’t Have the Best of Both Worlds
However, though that’s the case, the stress of motherhood had slowly caught up to Leah. When OP told her that “many people take breaks to raise kids,” Leah immediately broke down.
OP said, “She broke down, crying about how she was so tired all the time being a mom, and she needed something else in her life, too.”
Sam felt terrible about everything his daughter was going through, and OP once again suggested that Leah utilize her income to hire a nanny. But Leah hesitated, not liking the idea of strangers looking after her child; in fact, Leah didn’t want to accept any of OP’s or Sam’s ideas and suggestions to help lighten her load!
OP wrote, “We offered her multiple solutions, such as fewer work hours, career change, nanny, and daycare. She did not accept any offer. She does not want to leave the baby with strangers—nanny or daycare—and is refusing to hear it. She wants her baby to grow up with family feeling loved, and she can’t be at peace unless she knows one of us is with the baby.”
The Pressure Is On
Since then, both Leah and Sam have been pressuring OP to stay home so that both of them could go to work, but OP’s “standing firm” on her decision.
In an update, she wrote, “The conclusion of all discussions were the same. They needed me to stay home with the baby. Sam wouldn’t be putting anything into my savings or retirement funds ’cause he won’t have funds for that. He also thinks it isn’t necessary since I can just go back to work when the baby starts school.”
Forever His Baby Girl
Due to this, OP recognized that Sam saw his daughter as his baby girl, expecting OP to be the responsible adult and provide support. OP attempted to convey to Sam that Leah is an independent decision-maker who needs to embrace adulthood.
But Sam just said that OP “won’t get” how a parent would feel.
She’s Not a Child!
Despite being a mom, Leah continued being treated and acting like a child. She didn’t contribute financially, even for expenses related to the baby, as Sam covered most of them; OP was then tasked to contribute to their normal, day-to-day expenses.
This arrangement was another variable that didn’t allow Sam to cut back hours to take care of his grandchild himself. OP noted, “If Sam stops working or reduces hours, he won’t be able to do all these. I would take up being the breadwinner, but we would have to downsize, and Leah would at least have to cover all baby-related expenses herself. Neither of them wants that.”
Going Around in Circles
The three of them kept going in circles, but one thing remained the same: they required OP to stay home with the baby. But aside from her mindset to remain child-free, OP’s also haunted by the fact that she’d put her own life on hold for her stepdaughter and baby.
Her career would come to a halt, and as Sam decided, he wouldn’t be contributing financially to OP’s retirement fund. No matter what angle OP uses to look at things, this situation was not in her favor.
Ultimately, OP decided to leave. She packed all her belongings, placed everything she had into her car, and stayed at a friend’s house.
Leaving was uncomplicated since she had no rights to the home or ownership of any furniture there.
Painful Memories and Accusations
The day before this story was posted, Leah said she wished her mom was still alive because she was sure she would have had her back, unlike OP. She also said OP “didn’t love her.”
Sam is mad, but for OP, enough’s enough. OP wrote, “I have booked an appointment with my lawyer. I think this is the best decision I can take for myself.”
Am I the Problem?
Leah and Sam think OP’s a “selfish a**hole” for leaving, and though it hurts, OP believes “it will have to be this way.”
She asked, “Am I the a**hole for refusing to help my stepdaughter with her baby?”
The Community’s Take on the Matter
Users can’t believe how Leah is putting such a load on OP.
A top commenter wrote, “Not the a**hole. She didn’t ask you to help. She asked you to pretty much give up your career and raise your stepgrandchild!”
Another said, “Not the a**hole. This is Leah’s baby that she alone chose to have. That doesn’t obligate you to change your life to suit her desires. The whole business of saying you don’t love her because you won’t quit your job to watch her baby is manipulative and messed up, and I’m shocked your husband is siding with her.”
Is He Really a Husband?
Other Redditors start questioning OP’s husband, Sam, and how he pressures her.
“Not the a**hole, but I would be reconsidering your relationship with a partner who seems to disrespect your boundaries and a stepdaughter who does the same. He should have your back in this situation. It’s a horrible situation your stepdaughter is in, but to ask you, who never wanted kids, to handle her responsibility. Your stepdaughter is acting extremely entitled, and your husband is enabling her,” one user commented.
Another Redditor said, “Funny you are called selfish, but the 25-year-old who contributes nothing to the household and refuses to make any sacrifices for her child that her father is supporting isn’t? In the meantime, he wouldn’t offer anything towards your savings and didn’t even have you listed on the house. He never thought much of you, apparently. They aren’t great people.”
Was OP being too harsh on her stepdaughter? Or was she right to stand firm on her decision?
More From Quote Ambition
This post first appeared as She Refused to Sabotage Her Career to Care For Her Stepdaughter’s Baby. They Say She’s a “Selfish Jerk,” but This Is Not What She Signed Up For, so She Left! on Quote Ambition.