Teenagers can be wild sometimes. But there are ways to handle them!
An internet user asked, “Am I a jerk for telling my stepdaughter she needs to grow up and stop expecting everyone else to cater to her diet because she wants to lose weight?”. Here’s the whole story for your context!
The Original Poster (OP) (45F) has been a stepmother to Lucy (17F) for the past two years. OP also has a son, Jack (15M,) from her previous relationship.
LUCY’S LOVE FOR JUNK FOOD
For the first 18 months OP knew Lucy, she loved junk food. She would use the money she would get from babysitting the neighbors’ kids to buy cookies, chips, and ice cream all the time.
“It was very unhealthy how much of that junk food she ate. I politely encouraged her to switch to something healthier that still tastes good, like yogurt. But she would always respond with ‘You’re not my mom’ and ‘Stop controlling my body.’ Because of this, she’s put on a lot of weight.”, says OP.
SIX MONTHS AGO
About six months ago, Lucy argued with a boy in school. They called each other names, and he called her a hippopotamus. That made Lucy self-conscious, and she’s been trying to improve her health since then.
“She threw out all the junk food we had at home and tried to exercise 3-4 times a week. She’s been making steady progress, and I’m happy that she’s been taking care of herself”, says OP.
WHAT HAPPENED RECENTLY?
OP’s son, however, has recently liked Doritos chips. He doesn’t eat much of it, just a packet every other week. He mostly eats them in his room, so Lucy hasn’t seen him eating them.
But a few days ago, he was watching a TV show downstairs and decided to eat his chips. OP was cooking in the kitchen, but then she heard an argument and ran out to figure out what was going wrong.
“Lucy was mad at Jack for eating chips and told him to throw it out because she’s trying to lose weight. My son said he can eat whatever he wants”, says OP.
WHAT DID OP TELL HER?
She (OP) tried to calmly tell Lucy that Jack is allowed to eat in a shared space, and if what he’s eating is tempting her, she can nicely ask him to put it away, or she can go to another room until he finishes if he declines her request.
OP’s involvement made Lucy angrier, and she accused OP of “playing favorites” and “sabotaging” her progress. This annoyed OP because she’s done nothing but support her these past few months.
“I firmly told her she’s almost 18, and she needs to grow up and accept that not everyone will follow her diet, especially in their own homes”, says OP.
THE FINAL FUSS
Lucy cried to her mom, who then called OP and told her she was a jerk for not supporting Lucy.
“My husband, her dad, is on my side, but after sleeping on it, I think I could have used a gentler tone. So am I a jerk?” asks OP.
NOT THE JERK
“Regarding the general topic of the conflict, you’re not the jerk, but it sounds like your concern is that you might have used some hurtful phrasing or tone and could have handled it better, but your tone doesn’t come across in the text.”
WHAT YOU SAID WAS APPROPRIATE
“Not the jerk. What you said was appropriate (if you said how you describe it). Lucy’s mom should be talking to her dad if she’s angry. Tell your husband you will immediately hang up if she calls you names again.”
HER MOTHER SOUNDS LIKE A JERK
“Not the jerk. You were accurate in what you said, and I doubt Lucy’s mother is getting a calm, factual retelling of the story from her stepdaughter. Her mother sounds like a jerk, and I’d probably mute/block her. No sense in having your peace ruined because of idiots.”
SHE CAN NOT DICTATE OTHERS
“Not the jerk. Dieting is a hard journey, but it’s hers to take. Lucy doesn’t get to dictate what other people eat. That’s ridiculous. Sure, she can ask, but it’s inappropriate for her to start an argument over someone refusing her request.”
YOU PUSHED HER TOWARDS DISORDERED EATING
“You’re the jerk. You made your stepdaughter feel bad and pushed her towards disordered eating, which is exactly why she called out your son’s eating habits. She gets bullied at school, and you’re happy it resulted in her weight loss? Get out of here with that nonsense. Hopefully, your stepdaughter doesn’t have a predisposition to eating disorders.”
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This article was originally published on Mrs Daaku Studio.