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Stepmother Strives to Make Stepson’s Birthday Special, But Her Husband’s on Stance on Her Gift Proposal Puts Everyone on Edge.

In an intricate web of stepfamily dynamics, the Original Poster (OP) wrestles with an unforeseen conflict when her husband’s ex-wife proposes a shared birthday gift for their shared son, creating tensions within the family.

Unexpected Gift Plan

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OP and her husband decide to buy her soon-to-be 18-year-old stepson a car for his birthday, agreeing to split the cost 70/30. OP is the higher earner, but her husband is comfortable with the division and believes he should pay more because it’s his biological son.

Unfriendly Ties

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OP’s relationship with the ex-wife is strained due to past unkind remarks and an overall lack of friendliness. The ex-wife, from a less privileged background, has been critical of OP’s wealth, causing discomfort. Despite the challenges, OP maintains her civility for the sake of the stepson.

Proposal for Collective Gifting

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Upon hearing OP and her ex-husband’s plan to purchase a car for the son, the ex-wife suggests chipping in 5% towards the car’s cost and presenting the car as a collective gift from all three parents. This unusual proposal throws OP off balance, as this has never been their gifting practice to include her. The request not only takes OP by surprise but also vexes her.

Struggling with Shared Recognition

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OP grapples with the thought of sharing recognition for the gift with a woman who’s been consistently antagonistic towards her. She doesn’t want the ex-wife’s contribution, nor does she want the gifting to appear as a joint effort. This unexpected situation puts OP in a tight spot.

Unexplained Change in Gift Giving

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In the past ten years, they have never given a joint gift before, making OP question the ex-wife’s motives. She doesn’t understand why a separate gift from each pair of parents and step-parents would be problematic. This sudden shift in dynamics intensifies the main conflict.

Doubts and Expectations

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When discussing the issues with friends, some suggest that OP should agree for the sake of fostering a harmonious environment for the stepson. They argue that such actions promote unity among all parents and step-parents.

Navigating the Stepmother Role

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OP starts questioning her role as a stepmother. If she denies the ex-wife’s request, does that make her less effective as a stepmother? It raises doubts about her boundaries and responsibilities in her step-parenting role.

Clash over ‘Getting Along’

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The ex-wife’s demand seems to be under the guise of promoting a harmonious relationship among all the parents. However, OP questions whether this necessarily means complying with her every request. This conflict of the understanding of ‘getting along’ amplifies the tension.

Sudden Breakdown

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In a surprising turn, OP’s husband decides to back his ex-wife’s idea, creating a divide between OP and him. The husband believes that this gesture might improve the overall family dynamics and believes his ex-wife can’t afford much more. This disagreement causes a crack in their united front.

Stepson’s Unexpected Reaction

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The stepson overhears the conflict and voices his desire for separate gifts instead of a collective one, aligning with OP’s original intention. He doesn’t want his mother to feel obligated to contribute financially beyond her means.

Mother-Stepson Tensions Rise

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The mother reacts badly to her son’s stance, leading to a disagreement between the two. She accuses him of being ungrateful and not understanding the significance of collective gifting. The birthday gift now becomes a source of division rather than joy.

A Woman’s Question

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OP realizes that the ex-wife’s 5% would probably help her spend less on the ‘joint gift’ than she otherwise would spend alone, hence her complaint to derail the joint plan.

Gifting and Growing Up

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OP agrees for the sake of her husband and to keep things civil, all three parties will contribute to the car, and that will settle the matter. She is frustrated with the decision but wants a peaceful resolution and seeks to minimize any long-term damage.

The Birthday Resolution

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In the end, the son’s birthday is celebrated with one gift, symbolizing his transition to adulthood and the family’s ability to handle complex family dynamics.

Was The OP’s Behavior Appropriate?

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The readers in the forum had a lot of mixed views on the matter. Here are some of their responses:

Forum Responded

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One reader said, “She wants to take credit for the gift, and with the way you described her, there is a big chance that she is going to milk this if you let her pay.”

Another Viewpoint

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Another responder wrote: “If she wants to contribute, she should cover his insurance for the first year.”

A Different Perspective

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A different person states, “I would be upset if someone chipped in a measly 5% and claimed we all got the gift together. I get that mom can’t match stepmom, but at least try and get close for your own son.”

What Do You Think?

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What are your thoughts on their actions?

What would you have done in this situation?

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