Cancer is a devastating diagnosis, especially when the prognosis is bleak.
Dealing with a parent with advanced cancer is traumatic, especially for a child who isn’t an adult yet.
So it’s only natural for a child’s other parent to want to offer support to their child, even if the parents are no longer together.
But after a dad received pushback from his girlfriend over his plans to support his son after his ex-wife’s cancer diagnosis, he wondered if he was doing too much. So he turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.
A Redditor asked:
“AITA for postponing my vacation with my girlfriend because of my ex?”
The original poster (OP) explained:
“My ex-wife and I divorced 6 years ago. We married really young, she is very religious and there was pressure from her family to marry.”
“I was young and dumb and had just left the military with no sense of direction. We were very different people but it didn’t come out as we only dated for 8 month before marrying.”
“It felt very romantic to marry after such a short time but after we wed and moved in together it was clear we weren’t a good match. We stuck it out for 8 years but it wasn’t working and we were both older so the whole thing with living miserably to make other people happy (her and my parents) didn’t appeal anymore.”
“I don’t blame her for any of it, I think we just didn’t understand what we wanted at the time and did things to please other people. We had an amicable divorce and our son lived with her until high school.”
“He is with me for high school because we live near a top school and she lives in a small town without a good high school. He is supposed to stay summers and holidays with her and come here during the school year.”
“My ex-wife got diagnosed with cervical cancer last month and it was caught late so it’s already spread. The long term survival rate isn’t great and I want my son to visit his mother in a week or 2 before she goes though her hysterectomy.”
“My vacation renews every June 30th. I had saved 2 weeks to go to Hawaii this winter break.”
“However with this situation I want to take a week or 2 to go with my son to be there for him. His mom won’t be able to cook and clean for him and he also wants for me to drive them up to the next city to visit his grandparents.”
“The other issue is my son might have to stay with us for this winter break (he is supposed to go to his mom’s but it’s unlikely now depending on her treatment schedule) and I don’t want to go on vacation with him home alone with this happening.”
“My girlfriend is not happy because we have winter break set up to go to Hawaii and our flights have been booked. I called the airline and they said they would switch our flights to a later one for $600 which I offered to cover so we could rebook the vacation for next fall instead.”
“But she thinks my son should be able to go back alone and thinks I’m wasting my vacation going with him when we already have plans. My son does go on flights by himself (he is almost 16) however this time my ex isn’t going to be physically able to take care of our son.”
“There are also a lot of things to be done in prep for my son and my ex before she goes through chemo and surgery. My girlfriend is upset I’m prioritizing my ex over her but I see it as going because my son might lose his mom.”
The OP summed up their predicament.
“I might be the a**hole for canceling our vacation because my ex got diagnosed with cancer and I’m going as support for my son.”
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors unanimously declared the OP was not the a**hole (NTA).
“NTA – You would not be postponing for your ex, you would be postponing for your son. My mother died of cancer when I was 13, and was diagnosed while I was spending the summer with my dad and his girlfriend (now wife).”
“When we got the news my dad made the plans to immediately drive me from Colorado to Ohio and stayed there with me until she passed, even though my step-dad, grandparents, and countless aunts and uncles were there too.”
“Never once was my dad’s girlfriend anything but supportive of him being there with me while I was going through the hardest thing in my life. If she had, I can promise you neither of us would have ever had anything to do with her again.”
“And we would have been 100% correct in that stance. Please hear me when I tell you, your son in the ONLY thing that matters right now, and if your GF can’t see that, she is not the one.” ~ punkybrewsterstwin
“This right here is all that needs to be said. Your son’s mother is DYING. Nothing else matters.
“How is GF expecting him to cook clean and do his own laundry when all he is thinking about it is how long does his mother have left? That is just cruel.” ~ Novel_Fox
“Doing that as an adult is hard enough.”
“Thinking about him being on a plane alone, having to find his way from the airport to her house, and then sitting at the hospital alone is heartbreaking.”
“OP needs a real partner who can sympathise.” ~ More-Pizza-1916
“Your son will still need support though, just as he would need it if you had been diagnosed with such a grave illness.”
“NTA. Never let someone tell you what your relationship with your child should look like on THEIR terms. This is a sad and frightening time in both your child’s and your ex’s lives.”
“Standing behind our children when life feels chaotic and uncertain is just what we have to do sometimes. Real dads do prioritize their children’s needs as the needs arise.”
“Your GF isn’t feeling your son’s feelings and so she shouldn’t make decisions for him. She’s not his parent.”
“Your son likely can learn to cook some simple meals for himself and he can certainly do his own laundry at 16. But the nuts and bolts of his life aren’t the great issues he faces right now.”
“His mom is terribly ill and he just needs you to be there for him so he doesn’t feel isolated and alone.” ~ AndSoItGoes24
“I would be so scared and sure, a 16-year-old will be functioning, but in survival mode.”
“I could never fathom leaving my kid in such an isolated and scary state and instead ‘enjoy’ my vacation.”
“It would simply not even be an option. Its not a waste at all, its the only humane thing to do.” ~ heyjajas
“NTA, not even remotely. Yes, he’s old enough to feed himself, do his own laundry, and travel by himself, but this is a huge visit and he needs your emotional support, as well as help with the basics and to go see his grandparents.”
“I get that your gf is super excited about Hawaii in the winter, but this is a huge moment for your son and he needs to come first. If she can’t understand that… well, only you know what needs to be considered.” ~ SunshineShoulders87
“When my mother died, I was in no condition to take care of doing everything by myself, and I was a lot older than 16!” ~ Ok_Dream9695
“Was 25 when my dad died. My husband said that I walked around like a lost puppy. I don’t remember at least a few weeks after it.” ~ Scary-Pace
“Oh wow your current girlfriend is cold and heartless. NTA.”
“You’re doing the right thing by your son. He’s going to experience tragedy and your girlfriend is more concerned about her vacation plans.” ~ HeirOfRavenclaw
“OP, your GF comes across as really immature and selfish. Does she not understand the gravity of the situation?”
“I’m a single father myself and I believe you’re 100% doing the right thing. I commend you for stepping up during this really difficult time.”
“It sucks that rather than you and your son getting support from your significant other at this time, she’s adding complexity and unnecessary stress.”
“Strong NTA and I hope it all works out for you man.” ~ ok_usa33
“Honestly, pretty big Yikes at the gf wanting OP’s son to face mom’s impending death alone.”
“Who could possibly have such little empathy they think it’s right to leave a teenager home alone at a time like this?” ~ SpaceJesusIsHere
“NTA. Your gf is jealous of what might be a dying woman. I cannot imagine being so insecure that I pout over my partner wanting to be there for his child during such a difficult time.”
“I’d be proud to be dating someone so caring and compassionate. You really need to ask yourself if this woman is really who you want to be with, especially since you have a son to think about.”
“You want to date someone who’s this callous to your kid??” ~ Square-Raspberry560
It sounds like dad has more than a few things to consider.
Hopefully things go well for the OP and his son during what is certain to be a difficult time.