Members of a popular internet forum were left upset after one mother explained how the father of her children has continually made co-parenting as difficult as possible.
In a viral Reddit post published on r/AmITheA**hole, Redditor u/KoolYoBoats (otherwise referred to as the original poster, or OP) detailed the numerous custody-related conflicts she’s had with her ex and explained how a recent request for extended visitation sparked even more tension between the two.
Titled, “[Am I the a**hole] for telling my ex that his stepdaughters’ schedule isn’t important to me?” the post has received over 9,300 upvotes and 880 comments in the last 12 hours.
Writing that she has two boys, ages 10 and 11, the original poster said she separated from their father seven years ago. Adding that he remarried a woman who has two daughters of her own, the original poster also said that her ex made multiple attempts to gain full custody of both of their children.
“He tried to claim being married, having a ‘two parent household with siblings’ meant our boys should be primarily with him. He also sued to have the boys’ last names changed from mine to his,” OP wrote. “Both were denied. He rejected the offer to hyphenate their names [and] it was very much a relationship destroyer.”
While discussing her sons’ relationship with their stepmother and stepsisters, the original poster said the children rarely cross paths but added that her ex recently requested that the boys spend more time with his wife’s daughters—much to OP’s dismay.
“He has asked me to give him extra days for this or that because that’s when the girls are there, or can I put them in a different extra curricular [closer] to the ones they like because the girls are doing something in another place and it would be easier for him,” OP wrote.
“This time, he and his wife are planning a two week vacation,” OP continued. “He wants me to give up a week with our boys because ‘the girls can be there for two weeks and he wants a family vacation.'”
“I said no…and ex brought up the girls again,” OP added. “I told him the girls’ schedule with them is not important to me and he needs to stop trying to make it a problem for me. I told him he was not getting an extra week with the boys and he needed to accept it.”
Despite the commonly-used phrase that “50 percent of marriages end in divorce,” current divorce rates in the United States are around 2.3 percent per 1,000 population, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
Plummeting divorce rates, however, do not always correlate to increased dual-parents households and in 2020, data collected by Statista revealed that millions of children across the U.S. live with a single, divorced parent.
And while many divorced parents do their best to co-parent effectively, others struggle mightily.
Galbraith Family Law, a Canadian family law firm, reports that divorced parents often disagree on a handful of common issues including holidays, parenting techniques and like in the circumstances described by the original poster—scheduling.
Asserting that “kids need consistency in their lives,” the law firm recommends that separated parents follow custody schedules (court-determined or not) and work collaboratively to provide the best experience for their children.
Throughout the comment section of the viral Reddit post, Redditors pointed out a lack of co-parent collaboration and placed the blame squarely on the original poster’s ex.
In the post’s top comment, which has received more than 10,500 votes, Redditor u/BusyDadGaming cut to the heart of the uncomfortable situation.
“Absolutely [not the a**hole]. You’re right. His family is his responsibility. He’s being unreasonable,” they wrote. “And if he and [his wife] keep trying to start stuff with the boys, action needs to happen in the opposite direction.”
“You can’t force kids to feel anything, much less affection for a family they don’t see as theirs,” they added.
Redditor u/tomtomclubthumb, whose comment has received nearly 3,000 votes, offered a similar response.
“In a healthy co-parenting situation, [the] parents would make [accomodations] to help each other out and make everyone’s lives easier,” they wrote. “He has prevented it from being healthy and he is making unreasonable demands. He is also looking to his convenience and rather than his kids’ wants and needs.”
“The ex’s demands are so clearly about making their life as a family less complicated,” Redditor u/pinkheartnose added, receiving nearly 1,000 votes. “Nothing to do with the best interest of the boys.”