Stepmom Shares How Her Stepchildren Have Gone Through 20 Pets At Their Mom's House & Have No Remorse Or Empathy When They Disappear

She worries there might be something more going on at home.

Billie Tarascio TikTok Family Lawyer discusses situation AzmanL, Susan Schmitz, DAPA Images, Good Focused / Canva; @Modernlawaz / TikTok

Navigating life in a blended family can prove to be difficult for several reasons. This is especially true for stepparents who aren’t quite sure what their role should be in their stepchildren’s lives, what boundaries one shouldn’t cross, and how to handle challenges without unsolicitedly taking on the role of their actual parents.

Despite these complexities, there are times when one might want to take action in addressing concerns regarding the emotional and physical safety of their stepchildren, which is exactly what one woman did upon noticing some odd patterns in her stepchildren’s behavior.


A stepmom says her stepchildren have gone through 20 pets but show no signs of remorse when they disappear.

Posting to TikTok, one Arizona family law attorney named Billie Tarascio shared an inquiry one concerned stepmom made, quite fittingly, on National Dog Day.  



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The stepmom wrote, “My stepchildren have gone through 20 pets that we know of at the other parent’s house. Everything from birds to bearded dragons to dogs. When they first get these pets, they make a big mess everywhere, but then the worst part is the pets seem to die or get lost or wander off and my stepchildren are showing no remorse or sadness for the loss of the pets.”

Concerned for her stepchildren’s emotional well-being, the stepmom expressed her unease with their mother’s ostensibly “cavalier attitude” and how it might be influencing the emotional state of the kids; moreover, she wonders how an issue of this caliber might play out in court.

Family law attorney Billie Tarascio reads an inquiry about a stepmom who is concerned about her stepchildren's lack of remorse after losing 20 pets.Photo: @mordernlawaz / TikTok


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Tarascio says judges don’t dive into the mental state of another parent.

Although one might expect this to be the case, Tarascio states that judges typically don’t get involved in the lifestyle or the mentality of another parent unless there are signs of abuse or neglect of their child and, in this case, of their pets.

Tarascio said, “So the desire to get a whole lot of different animals and keep them for very short periods of time and being [an] irresponsible animal owner is not going to impact how the judge is going to feel about a particular parent.”

Many speculated there may be signs of a toxic household.

Taking care of a pet and taking care of a child are experiences that can have some similarities — time, patience, routine, empathy, financial responsibility — and some felt that there may even be a connection between the two. 


Users chimed in to offer a correlation between parenting and taking care of animals, writing, “There is a direct [correlation] between how a person takes care of a pet is how they will take care of a child. Irresponsibility goes across the board.”

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Another person made claims that the custodial mother in question could be emotionally manipulating her children through the animals, saying, “The kids are being conditioned to be afraid to love anything but Mom, this is both animal abuse and child abuse.”

Along these lines, another commenter believed that the children’s lack of remorse might be a result of poor parenting, adding, “They’re not being taught and shown that animals are living beings that we love and take care of because [we] love them and they deserve it.”


The family court system as a whole is flawed in situations like this.

Based on the information as it was presented, it would be easy to simplify the issue by picking a reason that could explain why a child in this situation might respond in this way. However, the reality could be more complex than that.

But without the aid of adequate resources, particularly from a family court system, one’s options become very limited. 

According to Barry Goldstein, a writer, speaker, and consultant on domestic violence and child abuse cases, one of the many issues with the family court system is its failure to stay on top of research.


Unlike before, Goldstein states, “We now have substantial research from the most credible sources, but most courts have been slow to integrate research that would make it easier to recognize and respond to true reports of abuse.”

In other words, without the proper tools, research, and due diligence, we have a long way to go before we see any sign of reform.

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Xiomara Demarchi is a New York-based writer and frequent contributor to YourTango’s news and entertainment team. Keep up with them on Instagram.