When a couple with children split up, notions of who gets the final say in parenting decisions can get messy.
Even with joint custody, it can be hard to accept the decisions of an ex when it comes to the wellbeing of your child.
But if one parent is less active in their child’s life, does that negate their position as an authority figure when they disagree with their ex?
Redditor ThROwRAabcdef1235 recently clashed with his ex over one of their young daughter’s extracurricular activities, so he turned to the subReddit “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) to see if he’s in the wrong.
“AITA for refusing to let my 6-year-old daughter enter a beauty pageant?”
The original poster (OP) explained his family dynamic after he separated from his ex.
“My ex (23F[emale]) and I (23M[ale]) share custody of our 6 year-old daughter. We were engaged at one point and lived together but that didn’t work out.”
“Now we have joint legal custody, and I pay quite a bit in child support because of our earning disparities. I bought the townhouse they live in, bought my ex a car, and pay $$ every month to support my daughter.”
“I travel a lot for my career and admittedly I’m not always ‘present’. But I always take time to call or video chat with my daughter 3-5 times a week. I never miss a birthday or holidays.”
But one of his ex’s recent decisions didn’t sit well with him.
“Still, my ex does make the majority of decisions in my daughter’s life. Lately she’s become obsessed with entering our daughter into child beauty pageants.”
“Our daughter does gymnastics and she’s quite talented but I do not want her entering pageants.”
“Maybe when she’s a teen but not as a 6-year-old. It’s weird and I hate the idea.”
When he tried to shut the idea down, his ex told him to mind his own business.
“When my daughter mentioned over the phone that mommy was entering her into a pageant, I was livid and spoke to her after, telling her in no way was I going to let that happen.”
“My ex said it’s not my decision to make and my daughter wants to do it so I should just butt out. I feel like I should have SOME say because I will inevitably be the one fronting the costs.”
Redditors weighed in on the situation by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
They agreed with the OP that pageants are sketchy at best—and gymnastics isn’t a picnic either.
“NTA. Sorry but IMHO those pageants are creepy. Gymnastics sound great!”
“I am not an attorney so not clear if you can legally forbid it but refusing financial support sounds like a great solution.”—Walktothebrook
“Gymnastics isn’t great either. My (skinny) kid was told she was too fat for competition because her ribs didn’t show through her leotard.”
“Gymnastics is toxic in a different way but OP is absolutely right about pageants.”—WetMonkeyTalk
“Beauty pageants exploit children. I would never let my daughter enter a beauty pageant.”
“Another thing, you have joint custody so you should have a say in this too. The fact that your ex said it’s not your business and you should butt out is absolutely ridiculous.”—Handsome_Stackman
“On top of exploiting children, they also sexualize children and can induce image dysphoria, eating disorders, and toxic forms of competition. Kids that age should be playing Candyland, not trying to out-pretty their peers.”—Anianna
“NTA. Child beauty pageants are creepy.”
“This is not medical care or even a neutral activity like a sport. You do not have to fund something you do not agree with.”—photosbeersandteach
“Seriously, teaching kids that their looks are the most important thing about them is super toxic.”
“As someone who got a lot of attention for my looks and did some catalog modeling as a teen/ young adult, it kinda of messed me up and it’s made a lot of changes of getting older really difficult to handle. And I never did the pageant thing.”—Longjumping-Study-97
“NTA. It’s doubtful at 6 this was your daughter’s idea. And your ex telling you to butt out of any major decisions involving your daughter is not acceptable.”—dart1126
Not to mention pageants can cost a ton of money if you’re really in it to win it, as we know from popular shows like Toddlers & Tiaras.
“NTA. It is incredibly expensive to do ‘correctly’ and is more about moms living vicariously through their kids.”
“I think you are correct to say no, especially with how much you pay for. If your daughter does gymnastics maybe suggest a club gymnastics team or something instead.”—Gwendolynftw
“Yeah I was going to say something about the expensive part of pageants to: if they are really expensive I am guessing they will be using OPs money.”—FairieWarrior
“Google episodes of the tv show ‘Toddlers and Tiaras’. Creepy….they even have under 2 beauty divisions.”
“The girls wear make up, false eye lashes and thousand $$ dresses. Oh, and spray tans.”
“NTA. Keep her away from this toxic environment where looks are the only thing that matters.”—del901
If the OP’s child likes the idea of playing dress-up, one Redditor had some ideas for other creative outlets she could try instead.
“She’d be better off taking a dance or theater class if that’s something she’s interested in, plus good old fashioned dress-up!”
“I hope you can help your ex see the damaging aspects of those pageants and instead encourage any other outlet for your daughter’s creativity.”
“I took figure skating classes as a kid and loved the sparkly outfits – there’s so many things that let a kid have fun with performing and dressing up without being focused on competition and who adults think is the prettiest.”—bonnfires
While it’s unclear whether or not the OP can legally withhold financial support over his ex’s decision, at least he can rest assured that Reddit feels just as creeped out by child beauty pageants as he does.