Parenting is not easy. And when you become a step-parent to a kid who seems to deal with everything by getting into trouble, things get complicated.

An anonymous Reddit user, a parent to his own two kids and a step-father to another one, recently went to the Am I The A-Hole community to share a story of how his step-son trashed his biological daughter’s book collection, in response to which he refused to let the kid return until he makes amends.

This didn’t fly well with the step-son’s actual father and he’s being pressured into letting it go. So, he asked the lovely Redditors whether he was wrong.

Parenting’s hard. And it doesn’t get any easier when you’re a step-parent

So, the Reddit user, with whom we got in touch, is a father to his own 12-year-old daughter from another partnership, a father to a 2-year-old with his wife, and a step-father to the wife’s 16-year-old son from another marriage.

The son, Levi, wanted to borrow a camera from the daughter, Sarah, but she refused to lend it to him. In response to this, he effectively destroyed her beloved book collection by throwing it into a pool.

And this Reddit user asked the internet if he was wrong to not allow his step-son to return home because he destroyed his daughter’s books

He is known to throw away stuff that belongs to people over small arguments, but enough is enough. The step-dad discussed a punishment with the mom, but before that could happen, Levi ran away, as he always does whenever in trouble, to his biological dad, who’d typically come back and yell at the step-dad.

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You see, the biological dad demanded there’d be no punishment because it wasn’t Levi’s fault he was acting this way—he did so because he and Susan were mean to him. He also said he won’t let Levi come back until he is forgiven, and the step-dad flipped it around, saying he’s not to return until he makes amends.

The step-dad holds that the kid has to learn a lesson, that there are consequences for one’s actions, and that he needs to be held accountable for the things he does, especially if it hurts someone. But what the biological parent is doing is trying to negotiate a scenario where he’d get away with it.

You can imagine where this could lead to in the long run. This is besides the fact that his older daughter is being blatantly bullied, not just by the son but by his biological dad too, so it’s only fair that the step-dad steps in and do everything he can so she doesn’t get scarred for life.

The Am I The A-Hole community responded, first with over 27,500 upvotes as well as over 60 Reddit awards, and then with over 5,300 comments discussing the matter.

While the Reddit user was reluctant to share this story, but the community was actually super helpful, as he explained: “At first, I was very hesitant about sharing my story on there for several reasons, but, my God, there were a ton of helpful responses that definitely helped me figure out what to do moving forward in this situation.”

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The final verdict was that the Reddit user is not the a-hole here, saying that this is flat-out bullying that needs to be punished, and that the daughter has to be protected against such behavior. Besides, something that was hers, cherished, was destroyed just because someone was unhappy. That is just unfair.

“There’s still plenty of pressure, specifically from my in-laws, to let my stepson come home,” elaborated the dad. “Some even mentioned getting a lawyer involved because they think what I’m doing is not OK, but I’m still standing my ground and right now declining any messages from my stepson’s dad that contain what looked to me like threats and most of them are saved in case I need them in the future. My stepson is still staying with his dad. His mom visits everyday.”

People ruled that the step-dad is not the bad guy here