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Dad With Split Custody Livid After His Ex Packs Their Son A ‘Visitation Bag’ For His Stay At His House

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Co-parenting after a divorce is rife with pitfalls that can make even the most mundane moves seem loaded with passive-aggression.

That’s how one Redditor felt when his ex-wife packed a “visitation bag” for their son to take with him to his dad’s portion of their 50/50 custody arrangement.

The Original Poster (OP), who goes by Altruistic-Ad-342 on the site, wasn’t sure about how he’d handled this situation with his ex-wife, so he went to the AITA (Am I The A**hole) subReddit for input.

OP asked:

“AITA for telling my ex I didn’t forget our son’s stuff?”

He explained:

“My ex and I had a contentious divorce that she largely lost when you consider what she was trying to get and what she actually got. For example,she wanted primary custody of our 8yo but got 50-50. We settled everything last month.”

“We switch every week. Last week, I picked him up and she handed me a backpack filled with clothes and toiletries. I asked why she was giving me this and she remarked it was his ‘visitation’ bag.”

“My son doesn’t need clothes or a toothbrush from his mom’s. He has just as many stuff at my house. I was insulted she called it a ‘visitation’ bag like I’m some weekend dad couch surfing. That was a slap in the face.”

“I purposely left it behind when we left. She texted me to tell me that I forgot it on the couch. I said I left it there on purpose because my son isn’t ‘visiting’ me so no need for a ‘visitation’ bag.”

“She told me I was being an a**hole and she was trying to help. I copied and pasted that comment back to her except that I said she wasn’t helpful.”

OP came back later to add a bit more context.

“My ex packed the bag, not my son. He has his own backpack and he took stuff from his mom’s in that backpack.”

“The visitation backpack was something that you’d send a kid with to a sleepaway camp like a toothbrush, socks, underwear, etc… like he doesn’t have that at my house.”

Redditors were then asked to evaluate who was in the wrong in this situation based on the following categories:

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

And their judgments were all over the map, with most finding this a very sticky situation where both parents could have done better.

“ESH you’re both being a**holes. She is assuming you havent put the preparation in, you are responding in a way that ensures a fight. It could have just been a mother worried about her child being away from home for an extended period of time, but she could have just asked if the kid needs anything sent with them.”

“You are divorced and are now coparents, it’s time to put aside your disdain for each other and focus on what is best for your child. Trading barbs leads to parents ranting on their way home from picking up the kid, and then trying to get even. This will have a massively negative impact on your child’s wellbeing. Stop it now.”

“Kids need stability, a 50/50 agreement honestly isnt great for it, so you have a deficit you both need to make up for by being better than this petty bullsh*t.”

“‘I appreciate the sentiment, but he has everything he needs here.’ That isn’t hard. Someone has to choose to be the bigger person first. Communication issues are likely a factor in your split, but you can still both try to be better at it for the sake of your child.”FloppyShellTaco

“…I don’t know how old your son is but you should have asked before you just left the bag. Maybe there was a book he was reading or a toy he wanted or homework he needed in that bag. Or perhaps just clothes he wanted to wear.”

“Your son is also going through a traumatic time. I would ask him if there’s stuff he wants to take back and forth while he adjusts. Not just from his mother’s house but also from your house.”kellydofc

“They are going to be co-parents for the next 10 years so it’s time to stop trying to be AHs to one another, and start thinking about their kid and how they can work together to make sure their son has the best childhood possible…”TeamChaos17

“…her child isn’t ‘away from home’, they are just at their dads house. I feel like home should be both places and i can see how that mentality is frustrating for OP.”

“Overall I probably have to go a gentle ESH leaning towards OP is more in the right though.”baconsrthebest

“…this story seems like a pretty clear case of Ex trying to establish OP as an incompetent care giver. OPs reply to the text can only help him if this goes to court again.”

NTA.”dimiblue

“I agree that she was absolutely TA and OP was partially also because of his response. A very simple ‘Thanks but I have everything’ would have sufficed.”Revo63

“ESH – You two need to grow up and learn to communicate. How do you know the things in the bag aren’t items that your son wants to take back and forth with him? Or some new type of toiletry that he is supposed/wants to use?”

“Could your ex be playing mind games and trying to make you feel/look like the lesser parent? Possibly. But acting on this assumption instead of asking for clarification doesn’t help. If she is playing games, make her come out and say it – then prove her wrong.”

“Not playing games -“

“Her – here’s his visitation bag”

“You – oh? what’s in the bag”

“Her – he decided that he has a favorite sweatshirt that he can’t live without. also, the dentist recommended a different type of toothbrush.”

“You – great, I will make sure he has the sweatshirt when I bring him back and will get him a new toothbrush like this to leave at my house.”

“Playing games -“

“Her – here’s his visitation bag”

“You – oh? what’s in the bag”

“Her – his pajamas and toothbrush, you know he needs those things right?”

“You – I do know that, he has the same things at my house. I will leave these here so you have them for next week”ForwardSquirrel8879

“ESH Here’s how that should have gone:”

“Her: I made you a visitation bag. Him: Did he pick out anything in it?”

“Her: No, it’s stuff he might need at your place like toiletries and such I packed for him. Him: That’s nice of you but I have all that stuff. Is there anything in there he can’t live without that I don’t already have?”

“Her: (probably) I don’t know, just take it for my peace of mind? Later: Him texting: I looked through the bag and I’ve got everything.”

“It’s coming back with him unused and we won’t be needing it next exchange. Also, I’m not comfortable with you using the term ‘visitation’.”

“We share custody, he’s not visiting me, he lives with me half the time. Please don’t try to say things that make me seem less a parent than you. And SCENE.”

“For the record, stop looking at your divorce like a contest you won and she lost. Stop looking for reasons to be angry with and hate her.”

“You’re divorced, that chapter of your relationship is over and done. The only thing you need to do with her is co-parent and in order to do that you BOTH have to put aside your feelings for each other and be the best parents you can.”

“Your son deserves BOTH your love, and you can’t do any of that if you’re both constantly biting each other’s ankles. Apologize for calling her an a**hole and explain WHY you got upset at her wording and insinuation you are less a permanent residence for him.”

“Could she have been trying to get a rise out of you? Totally. Does it matter? Not a lick.”

“Think about your son and his needs, not your personal issues with his mother.”katerinara

“INFO How much kid stuff did you buy before the divorce? Some parents are super involved and know their kid’s favorite brands, make note of when to replace the toothbrush, know the kid just hit a growth spurt and and that they hate cargo shorts.”

“Others are less aware of these things. When the parents are together it is rare for both to be equally on the ball with such things.”

“Overwhelmingly it is also mom who keeps track of this stuff. Be honest, how involved have you been up until now in buying the things your son needs and wants?”

“Did you ever have a conversation with one another to make sure you are both on the same page with his favorites and that there are duplicates at each house?”ellieacd

“Yeah, we don’t know. This is a new situation, settled only a month ago, so everyone is probably still adjusting.”

“Does she *know* what you have at your house? Have you communicated that to her?”

“Did you ask your son if he wanted what was in the bag? (Actually asked him, not insinuated he didn’t need it and got the answer you wanted.)”

“What if there was like, a computer or something that *does* need to travel back and forth?”

“We need more info to say if you’re T A or not.”

“However, to be blunt, priority #1 should be your son, not your personal feelings.”

“Don’t make a scene in front of your kid, because he WILL think he’s done something wrong, and divorced or not you shouldn’t be projecting hate for your ex around him either or he’ll learn to hate women from you.”Seventeen_Serpents

“If the word visitation bag bothers the OP so much, what word would work better for him? One catch, he has .5 seconds to come up with like his ex did in the course of the conversation.”

“I mean what’s so hard to understand about the mother packing a second bag? A kid might remember to pack his iPad or a book he’s reading, but probably not his medicine or a permission slip he needs for school.”lego_tintin

“Info: does your son take medication or have a favourite toy? There maybe important things in there like medical ID.”

“My suggestion would be to take a look in the bag and see if there is anything that can’t be duplicated.”Zafjaf

“NTA but… I’d ask if this is really the hill you want to die on.”

“Yes, your ex was being an asshole by implying that your half custody is ‘visitation’. That is obvious. But is this really worth it?”

“You are going to have to interact with this woman for the rest of your kid’s life. I appreciate that you clearly don’t get on, and have whatever beef you have, but your life will be far easier and contain less stress and drama if you can try and be the bigger man and be civil. For your son’s sake.”

“The divorce is over. There is nothing to be gained from fighting, even if she tees up something obvious. Just let it go and be civil.”knightsbridge-

“YTA. Don’t use your kids belongings as ammo to hurt your ex. He’s the one you’ll end up hurting.”

“Advice from a guy who grew up in the shadow of a contentious divorce, take the high road and your child will thank you for it, take the low road and chances are you’ll never hear a complaint from him but he will know what you did and how you acted.”

“Be aware that regardless of how you feel about your ex, your kid loves his mom and it will hurt him to see you fight with her.”FerretAres

“YTA. Focus less on your ego, and more on your child. Divorce sucks, but some extra underwear and a toothbrush aren’t going to hurt your son.”

“Her crime was packing him an extra bag of necessities, then engaging in mental gymnastics with you over it. WHO CARES!”

“Reading your post again made me realize how bitter and one sided it was.”183720

Hopefully these two parents can learn to work together for the good of their son.

After all, isn’t his well-being supposed to be the priority?

As long as either parent sees his welfare as a contest to win or lose, his needs aren’t being put first.

Written by John Sundholm

John Sundholm is a writer, content producer and performer originally from Michigan. His writing has also appeared on YourTango, Delish and Medium, and he has produced content for NBC, The New York Times and The CW, among others. When not working, he can be found tripping over his own feet on a hiking trail while singing Madonna songs to ward off lurking bears.