As opposed to the generally-accepted philosophy, marriages don’t merely happen to be an alliance between two people.

They’re more of a union between two families. When you engage in a remarriage, it becomes absolutely necessary for you to make sure there’s mutual understanding and respect between the immediate members of the two families. 


What Happened

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Recently, we came across an incident online wherein a mother forced her teenage daughter to learn sign language to communicate with her stepsister. 

An internet user asked, Am I a jerk for forcing my daughter to learn sign language? Read on 


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The Original Poster OP (49 F) recently married her husband (52M), who has a deaf 7-year-old daughter. She communicates solely via ASL. 


OP’s Daughter Has No Problems

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OP’s daughter (17F) is generally a very non-problematic teenager. She does amazing in school and has never caused problems besides regular teenage hormones. However, she doesn’t like OP’s husband and stepdaughter.

She is not outwardly rude but ignores their existence (she skipped OP’s stepdaughter’s birthday party, and doesn’t engage in anything other than basic small talk with her husband). 

OP says, “I did try to do family activities together to have the bond and all, but I stopped pushing it when it didn’t happen, and as long as she’s not being outwardly rude or harmful to them, I can’t exactly punish her for not liking them.”


What Exactly Is The Issue?

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Since OP’s relationship with her now husband had started getting serious, she started taking ASL classes and is now basically as fluent as a hearing person can be.

Her daughter, however, never made an effort, which OP thinks is ok since she technically has no responsibility toward her. 

OP further explains the issue, “However, recently, my daughter has started watching stepdaughter (paid) when we aren’t around, which changes things. In my opinion, since she is now spending time in which she is responsible for a young child, she needs to learn at least basic communication. When I brought it up to her, she outright refused to make any effort at all. I tried recommending YouTube videos, but she refused to try learning even a couple of words, saying she’s not responsible for my choice to be in the life of a disabled child.”


What Happened Next? 

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According to OP, this issue has also been causing a lot of problems in her marriage. Her husband confided in her that he’s starting to feel uncomfortable with his young daughter living with someone so cold she refuses to make even the most basic effort or engage with her. He has brought up that he is considering divorce due to his concerns about how this will affect his stepdaughter. 

So given all that, OP had to put her foot down finally. 


What Does OP Say

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She says, “I told my daughter that we have a disabled person living in our household for the foreseeable future, and if she wants to live here for college (graduating next month), she has to at least learn basic ASL. She doesn’t have to like her stepfather and stepsister, nor does she have to hang out with them, but she has to have the ability to communicate with her for the sake of safety and basic decency.

I made it clear that if she chooses not to, she is welcome to live in a dorm (that I will pay for ), it’s just that living in our house (that is also my stepdaughter’s house, my husband and I paid for the house equally) comes with basic rules.”

OP’s daughter hasn’t spoken to her for 7 days, so she thinks it’s about time she asks, is she a jerk?


Everyone’s Being A Jerk 

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“Everyone’s being ridiculous here except the youngling.

Your daughter is a jerk because she misplaces her frustration and emotional discomfort of your new marriage on her step-sister – the last person on earth who it should be put on. Maybe she even resents that you made her watch, paid or not.

Your husband is a jerk because he threatens you with divorce over this. Instead of talking and asking your daughter how she feels or considering a different babysitter, he pulls out the nuclear option to your relationship. 

You are a jerk because you throw your daughter under the bus for marriage’s sake and threaten to kick her out instead of being a mother and trying to understand her and offer her a bailout, aka a different babysitter.” 


An Ugly Ultimatum Or A Reasonable Choice? 


“‘I’m gonna divorce you unless you kick out your 17-year-old daughter or make her learn sign language’ is an ugly ultimatum.” Said one. 

” ‘I can’t keep my young daughter in a situation where one member of the household refuses to learn to communicate with her on even a basic level’ is neither ugly nor an ultimatum, it’s a perfectly reasonable choice as a parent.” Another replied. 


Why Don’t You Hire Another Babysitter?

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“You’re the jerk for having your daughter babysit when she doesn’t learn ASL. That’s ridiculous; find someone else.

I think you need to realize that, from your daughter’s perspective, this relationship is still relatively new, and as a near-adult, she is less likely to see your stepdaughter as her stepsister. To her, you’re changing the agreement regarding her living at home for college.

I don’t think you’re wrong regarding ASL; it’s good to learn, irrespective of living with someone who communicates this way. But you have some work to do here. You’ve moved people into her home that she doesn’t like; this was always unlikely to go well.” 


Threatening To Kick Her Out Was NOT COOL

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“You’re a jerk. You get it right in the first part of this post when you point out that your daughter doesn’t like nor does she have any responsibility towards your husband and stepdaughter. Only when your husband threatens YOU with consequences did you start messing up.

Yeah, your daughter definitely shouldn’t be babysitting her without knowing ASL. So find a different babysitter. You threatening to kick her out of her own home, because you are actively choosing your stepdaughter over her is disgusting.”


You’re Asking For Basic Decency; that’s It!

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“I know people have a beef against step-siblings/parents, but to go against a deaf little kid, you gotta have forgotten your heart at the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

You are also quite generous to pay for a dormitory at this point. As you pointed out, they do not have to become BFFs, also considering the age difference, but this is a minimum courtesy. It’s also an added skill, another language she can use in the future, put in her resume, and so on.”


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This article was originally published on Mrs. Daaku Studio.

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