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Being a parent brings along many issues when trying to do right by their child and teaching them important life lessons. This is more compounded when you are the step-parent of someone else’s child.
You certainly don’t want to overstep your role, but at the same time would like to instill the good habits in your new son or daughter that you are trying to teach your biological children as well. A stepmother recently found herself in a conflict with her step-daughter’s mother over how she asked her what type of dessert she’d like for her birthday.
The original poster (OP) begins her story by saying that she has two boys, ages 8 and 10, from a previous relationship and that her husband also has a child, a girl age 6, from a previous relationship as well. She says that she and her husband have a healthy relationship and family despite being in previous relationships that didn’t work.
The stepmother and her husband work together to teach their children moderation with everything from food to technology and strive to teach their children that being active is an important part of health and try to get their kids moving and doing something active every day.
However, her husband’s daughter spends the majority of her time with her mother, and they only see her two weekends a month. The husband’s daughter is twice the weight of the average 6-year-old, and her mother is the polar opposite of the way they’re raising their boys.
The stepmother says her stepdaughter’s lifestyle makes her feel sad for her and her health, so when they spend time with her, and she tries to teach her about healthy eating and being active. They have her sons play with her so she’s being active when she’s there, and they actively make a distinction between foods that are healthy and ones that are not with her.
She says when she sees one of the kids reaching for a “treat” in the food pantry, she will always ask if they would like to make a healthier choice. She says that her stepdaughter is really starting to get it, and she is now actively making better choices with food and is also asking for fruit while at home with her mother.
Her stepdaughter’s birthday recently fell on one of the weekends when she and her husband had her. While they were talking about what kind of cake to have, she asked her stepdaughter about a healthier choice.
She explains that she’s still “eating all that garbage” at home with her mother, and she feels it’s just not good for a growing girl. Her stepdaughter agreed, and they decided to have some low-fat ice cream so she could still have a sweet treat.
She requested a brand and flavor that they keep in their home that she loves and asks for every time she’s there. OP says she was so happy and proud of her choice, and her stepdaughter was excited. So she was happy with it.
After spending her birthday weekend with her dad and step-mom, she returned to her mother’s, and the next day her mom called OP and her ex-husband furious. The girl’s mother says that when she got home, she asked about her birthday with her stepmother and father and her cake.
The woman goes on to say that the mother told them the daughter began crying because she really did want cake but didn’t want to “make a bad choice.” The biological mother accused OP of fat shaming her and her daughter and that she now owes her stepdaughter a cake and a big apology.
OP feels like she’s just looking out for the health of her stepdaughter and never said she couldn’t have cake, and she was more than welcome to have one if she said she wanted one. She says she suggested sticking to ice cream because she cares but is wondering if she went about it incorrectly.
The Internet Weighs In
Redditors gave their opinion on this birthday cake fiasco and whether the stepmother should take a step back and re-evaluate how she is dealing with the food situation at her house.
One user said, “YTA. She’s 5. Give the child cake on her birthday and then go for a family walk after. Also, FYI, the good choice/ bad choice talk will just give her body image issues for the rest of her life.”
A second Redditor added, “The poor child is 5 years old. OP needs just to stop commenting on her stepdaughter’s diet, period. Based on OP’s attitude here, I’m worried this little girl will develop an ED by her pre-teens. I can absolutely understand why the Mom was furious.”
A third Redditor said, “My heart just breaks for this little girl. She has one home that supposedly doesn’t restrict anything and another that severely restricts everything.”
A user said,” OP, I think you mean well. But please listen to the feedback others are giving you—this isn’t how you help a 6-year-old get healthy. You will lead her to some heavy emotional baggage that could last a lifetime.”
Finally, a user also said, “YTA- are you freaking kidding me? Give the child cake on her birthday! How is a 6yo supposed to make all these “better choices” when she goes home? Just give good snacks for all.”
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As a full-time working mom of three, I know what it’s like to feel like life is out of balance and out of control.
While I don’t have it all figured out, I am committed to sharing helpful tips and tricks with other mommas who are ready to break free from negativity, ditch mom guilt, & finally, live life on their own terms.