A spouse who picked their stepson up from school without his mom’s permission has divided the internet.
In a popular Mumsnet post, user tmpbk wrote about their stepson’s upset stomach that led to diarrhea whilst at school. The 15-year-old teen was too embarrassed to tell a teacher and asked his stepparent to pick him up.
However, his mom sent him to school and suggested he was lying about feeling unwell as he isn’t a fan of Wednesdays. Despite this, the Mumsnet user collected him an hour before the day finished and the sickness bug worsened.
Newsweek reached out to a marriage and family therapist who backed the stepparent in dealing with the situation with the teen’s “best interests and wellbeing” in mind.
Initially, the user took to the internet to ask other users for advice on what to do as the stepson was texting them to pick him up. They explained he alternates weeks between his mom and dad, with whom the user has been in a relationship for 10 years.
The original poster (OP) wrote: “[He] has told me his mom told him to cook his own dinner last night, so he did but started to feel unwell, he had the runs two or three times and told his mom, but she sent him to school as it’s probably food poisoning, not a contagious bug (food poisoning is still just as bad though!).
“He asked me to pick him up as he feels unwell, he said he’s told the school he feels sick but they told him to see how he feels later but because he hasn’t been sick they won’t send him home, he said he’s been to the toilet a few more times but his last teacher had gotten annoyed at him keep asking to go which I can see from her point of view she probably thinks he’s trying to skip the lesson. He has her again after lunch and she’s told him she won’t allow him to go during that lesson.”
The spouse suggested he “lie[s]” to the teachers and say he has been sick as he didn’t want to tell them about the diarrhea.
“He’s begging me to pick him up as he just wants to go to bed. I’ve asked his mom what she suggests, and she hasn’t been helpful as she’s said he can stay in school if he isn’t going to tell them what’s wrong with him and she’s suggested he’s probably lying as she knows he doesn’t like Wednesdays at school,” the OP wrote, adding the teen’s dad wasn’t answering the phone.
The post points out the teen doesn’t like Wednesdays but, in the comments, the OP states he has never tried to skip a day before. Therefore, the OP believed he was ill and felt “mean” to make him stay at school whilst unwell.
In the comments, some users said it wasn’t the OP’s call as they aren’t his biological parent. But in the end, the stepparent picked him up and the teenager had an “accident” in the car and spent the rest of the day being sick.
Newsweek spoke to Emily Simonian, a licensed marriage and family therapist and head of clinical learning at Thriveworks, who said: “When looking at this situation, there isn’t just one ‘right’ way to handle it, even from a clinical perspective as a marriage and family therapist.
“The stepmom’s choice in this situation would understandably feel like an inappropriate overstep to husband and his biological mom if clear guidelines had been established, which could rupture trust within the co-parenting relationship(s).
“Stepmom’s choice sounds like a compassionate one that focused on stepson’s best interests and wellbeing. It seems like he trusts his stepmom and views her as a helpful, caring, confidante, evidenced by his comfort in reaching out to her. We could also guess that stepson’s trust in her increased following her compassionate actions, which is extremely positive, as we know teens can benefit immensely from having healthy and emotionally close relationships with adults/caretakers.
“As a clinician, I would explore the next steps with stepmom to find ways she can have an open and productive conversation with her husband so that they’re on the same page in how they deal with future situations like this one. It sounds like there were no pre-established guidelines for these types of situations, so this could be a great opportunity to talk about parenting styles, preferences, and future plans.”
If you have a personal dilemma, let us know via email@example.com. We can ask experts for advice on relationships, family, friends, money and work and your story could be featured on Newsweek’s “What Should I Do? section.
Over 300 people have responded to the dilemma that was posted on November 16.
Some users simply said they wouldn’t pick him up, but the stepparent pointed out they are on the emergency contact list.
One comment said: “I don’t think it’s your place to lie to school in order to take someone else’s child home. It’s between his mom and dad to sort out. Or for him to tell them what’s happening at school.”
“His mom already told you no so why are you undermining her authority? Maybe that’s why he’s contacting you because he knows you will do what he wants. Tell him you can’t pick him up early today and if he is sick, he needs to go to medical and sit in there,” wrote another.
Another said: “He is unwell. Go and get him. Poor kid.”
Another agreed: “Yes, please do this! Poor kid why is his mother being so mean about it?”
Newsweek was not able to verify the details of the case.
welcome to your health-fighters.us