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Dad Accused Of ‘Undermining’ His Ex-Wife By Un-Grounding Their Teen Son During His Custody Time

Michael Wipperf_rth / EyeEm via Getty Images

It’s not uncommon for each parent to have different expectations or standards of behavior for the children they bring up.

Both partners grew up in their own families, crafted their own values through life, and use different styles of parenting with the kids.

But as consistency is key, parents must coordinate to keep the parenting environment fair and intuitive for their children.

Navigating that is hard enough when the parents are together, and a whole lot tougher if the parents have separated.

A recent thread posted to the “Am I the A**hole (AITA)” subReddit illustrated exactly what that can look like.

The Original Poster (OP), known Cheap-Yak-208 on the site, used the post’s title to hammer home where he and his ex-wife recently differed when it came to their son. 

“AITA for ungrounding my son?”

OP began with some pertinent background details. 

“me [45-year-old male] and my ex-wife [44-year-old female] are fairly amicable co-parents. we have three kids [17-year-old male, 15-year-old female, 10-year-old female].”

“both me and my ex are pretty lax when it comes to punishments and never really go over the top. (until now of course)”

“if I’m being honest my son and his mother do not get along, he was not at all upset at the news of our divorce and even told me that deserved much better…”

“…however he was beyond pi**ed when his mother still got some custody over him. (he also never shares anything with her, I’m not even sure if she knows about his bf)”

A recent development fanned those flames. 

“anyway, last weekend my son dyed his hair red without asking my ex first, he’s been wanting to dye it forever and she’s been adamant against it.

“he went out with his friends and brought the dye, they all helped him dye his hair.”

“I saw some of the posts they made and it looked like they had fun, one of the guys was covered in red handprints and each of them used the extra dye to dye a streak in their hair.”

So mom lowered the boom. 

“my ex was not happy when she saw the posts and grounded him the moment he got home.”

“when I came to pick up the kids on Sunday she told me that he was grounded and wasn’t allowed out at all for two weeks (she has them for two weeks and I have them for two weeks, so I had to punish him the whole time he was with me).”

OP, however, felt differently.

“as soon as we drove off her driveway I told my son he was ungrounded and that I really liked his hair.”

But word traveled. 

“as soon as my wife found out (a friend of hers had seen him going shopping with his friends) she was livid and called me.”

“she told me that our son deliberately went behind her back and his hair turned out horrible and that she was teaching him a lesson, that he should listen to her and that I completely ruined it and am undermining her parenting.”

OP stuck to his guns. 

“I told her that grounding a 17 year old for dying their hair was ridiculous and that she didn’t get to tell me what to do when I have the kids.”

“we continued arguing for a while before her phone died, she tried to call me back but I didn’t answer.”

“I feel like I may be TA because I did go behind her back and didn’t talk with her and explain that I didn’t agree with the punishment before ungrounding him.”

Anonymous strangers weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
  • NAH – No A**holes Here

Most Redditors threw their support behind OP.

Some highlighted each parent has their time. 

“Absolutely NTA. If she wants to ground him it should be during her own time with the kids (though honestly he shouldn’t have been grounded at all imo).”

“I would get carrying over the grounding if it was for something that Actually Mattered but hair grows and dye fades. Not that big a deal.” — raedioactivity

“NTA – She can ground him on her time and you’re right about his hair. She is being crazy. What lesson is she trying to teach him?” — BeepBlipBlapBloop

“NTA she can ground him (however unreasonably – he’s 17 and not allowed to die his hair? Wow) at her house. She cannot ground him at yours.”

“These are the hard facts of coparenting with someone you’re separated from.” — justobsolete

Others flipped the logic around. 

“NTA. You could just as easily argue she went behind your back by grounding him on your parenting time and not talking to you about banning your son from dying his hair.”

“If she is this controlling when he is 17, she is going to be completely surprised when she has no contact with him once he turns 18.” — ICWhatsNUrP

“NTA – Sure maybe you should have discussed it with her first if you are trying to stay on the same page but, she didn’t discuss grounding him with you before hand either.”

“Also, you guys both have custody so why should one get to control how the others time is spent. I agree with what you did.” — civichbca91

Plenty were stunned by how OP’s ex-wife treated her son.

“NTA When you said kid I thought you meant like 12.”

“He’s 17 almost a man. He needs to be able to start making his own decisions someday and there’s not better time than now.”

“I mean it’s not like he’s been asking to go out drinking with his buddies. This is hair dye. It’s harmless.”

There’s nothing wrong with him wanting to have different colored hair” — michaelscott1776

“NTA – trying to ground a 17 year old in general isn’t a good idea as they’re quite capable of going around you and old enough to instead talk to as a adult, throwing a tantrum because idiot whims were ignored should just be laughed at by all involved.” — ChrisBatty

Others interpreted the entire situation as a warning sign. 

“HM I wonder what’s going to happen when he turns 18?”

“Ex is going to be SO confused why her son no longer wants to see her. *eye roll*”

“NTA” — Acceptable_Owl_257

NTA He is a 17 year old dude that is nearing adulthood. She’s ruining her opportunity at having a relationship with him.”

“She sounds toxic, which is why im 35 and don’t have a relationship with my mom” — sacrificial_blood

“Your almost legal son got in trouble for self expression? Nta. But I would expect a phone call from said son when he turns 18.” — Poison-walker3

Although the online feedback may not reverse the argument OP had with his ex-wife, he can at least take solace in the fact  his impulse aligned with popular decree.

Written by Eric Spring

Eric Spring lives in New York City. He has poor vision and cooks a good egg. Most of his money is spent on live music and produce. He usually wears plain, solid color sweatshirts without hoods because he assumes loud patterns make people expect something big. Typically, he'll bypass a handshake and go straight for the hug.