Three brothers, the youngest at 20 years old, experienced a childhood marked by loss and a decision they never agreed with when their father quickly remarried after the death of their mother.
Unfortunate Passing of Mother
The brothers’ mother sadly passed away when they were young, leaving their father to make a life-altering choice. He decided to remarry rather quickly against their wishes, to a woman named Janet. Janet had two disabled children from her previous marriage.
Dad’s Decision and Promises
Despite their objections, the brothers’ father assured them that this was the best decision for everyone involved. The youngest brother explained: ‘He told us it was his decision, he was doing the best thing for all of us, and the benefits would outweigh any feelings of “too fast”’.
Unfortunately, the reality of this change differed greatly from their father’s promises. Instead of an improved life, they found themselves constantly adjusting their needs to accommodate their disabled step-siblings. Their own desires and plans often took a backseat as the step-siblings required constant care.
Strained Family Resources
The financial strain was also evident, with less money to go around due to the added responsibilities. The brothers’ father was either working long hours to support the family or taking care of Janet’s children, leaving less time for his own sons.
Isolation From Extended Family
Their father also discouraged contact with extended family, believing it wouldn’t be fair to showcase the contrast between his biological children and his stepchildren. He stressed the importance of being together “as a family.”
Coming of Age
As the three brothers grew into adulthood, they realized they were expected by their father to plan for the future, particularly for their step-siblings. Janet had no family support, and their dad’s family wasn’t close to her children. They were now expected to step up, stand in as family for these kids, and ensure their well-being once their parents were no longer around.
Reluctance and Estrangement
However, none of the three brothers wanted to take on this responsibility. They had distanced themselves from their father over the years, feeling that they had lost him when he remarried. It was clear to them that their dad had remarried for his own happiness rather than their collective benefit.
The Refusal and its Consequences
When their father and stepmother approached them with the request to care for their step-siblings in the future, all three brothers declined. They were united in their decision not to accept this responsibility, which they had never asked for or agreed to.
Divide and Conquer
Now, their father was employing a different tactic. “The tactic now is to divide us and try and get one of us to break”, the youngest brother explained. “Dad has been reaching out and trying to say he knows I’m a good guy and must care about their wellbeing in some way. The guilt trip is getting to me a little.”
Mixed Emotions and Guilt
The guilt trip was starting to affect the youngest brother, especially when his father pointed out the vulnerability of his step-siblings. Although he acknowledged their innocence, he still struggled with the urge to take on a responsibility he never wanted in the first place.
The youngest brother told his story online, asking for second opinions and reassurance from others. “Your step siblings’ health and care are not your responsibility”, one reader reassured. “They are first the responsibility of the stepmom and then your dad since he married her”.
Not the Brothers’ Responsibility
This perspective was common within the threads of commenters: “Your dad chose to take responsibility for those kids, you and your brothers didn’t, and it’s not reasonable to expect you to make the same choice”, another person empathized. “There are facilities for people who need long-term care and it sounds like that’s the best bet for these two.”
Some Frank Advice
One commenter suggested that the brothers be frank with their father: “Call him out on his emotional manipulation. Just like it was his decision to get involved, it is now your decision to NOT. Contact your brothers and make sure you’re all on the same page and won’t break due to his emotional manipulation”.
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