Custody is a challenging thing, even in a perfectly amicable divorce.
Things can get much worse when the split is anything but… for everyone involved.
So what happens when those human flaws start hurting the children?
That was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) Cute-Panda100 when he came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for judgment.
“AITA for going on vacation without my children from a previous marriage?”
OP set the stage.
“My ex-wife Kate and I have two kids (Mike, 16 and Abby, 14).”
A messy divorce.
“We had a turbulent marriage and split for many reasons. It wasn’t amicable, and I had to fight for custody.”
“Kate and I both remarried.”
“She didn’t have children with her new husband.”
“I have three (9F, 7F, 5M) kids with my wife and also gained a stepdaughter (19).”
“My stepdaughter’s father left after he found out my wife was pregnant, so she never knew her father.”
“When I came into their lives I took on the role of a father figure. As far as blended families go, I am really lucky that we are all happy.”
“My stepdaughter and I have good relationship and Mike and Abby love their siblings from my wife.”
“The only person that is against my family is my Kate.”
“My wife is black and this has been a point of contention since the beginning.”
“Especially the fact that my wife is a very dark-skinned black woman is problematic to her.”
“Kate, her husband and I are very white.”
“Kate hates my wife and, especially, my stepdaughter (her bio-dad is also black).”
“Kate’s racism was one of many factors of our divorce.”
“She has been mostly silent on my biracial kids even though they present as black. Thankfully Mike and Abby haven’t taken over her racism.”
“Because of this, Kate has been on a crusade, trying to make my families life as difficult as possible.”
“It came to a head last week.”
“We were planning to go on a vacation abroad with the entire family. Including Mike and Abby.”
“Everyone was looking forward to it. Especially, my stepdaughter was looking forward to it.”
“But Kate wouldn’t sign the documents that would allow Mike and Abby to travel abroad (because they are minors).”
“Everyone was really disappointed. It would be the first vacation abroad for my three bio-kids with my wife.”
“I then decided to go and book the vacation anyway, but without Mike and Abby.”
“Understandably, they were not happy. Normal, I don’t badmouth Kate in front of them, but I told them its because of her that they can’t go.”
“This caused Kate to become really angry, saying I was prioritising my new family, and abandoning Mike and Abby.”
“She somehow placed the blame for all this on my stepdaughter. Saying my stepdaughter was taking their father away. Also calling me a ‘race traitor’, which didn’t make sense.”
“This unleashed a sh*tstorm with everyone of our friends weighing in, with some saying I am an a**hole.”
“Mike and Abby are p*ssed at me for not going on vacation and place the blame on me, after I deflected blame away from my stepdaughter.”
“Kate calls me an a**hole for going on vacation.”
“I am beginning to think booking the vacation was a mistake.”
OP was left to wonder,
Having explained the situation, OP turned to Reddit fo judgment.
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 decided: NTA
Think of the kids
“You need to sit down with your kids.”
“They are old enough to know the true reason they are not going. Any communication from your ex stating she won’t sign.”
“Normally, I’d say do what you can to help support relationships between parents and kids, but her outright racism should be explained to your kids as not something that will be tolerated.”
“It’s unacceptable and disgusting.”
“She is also not doing anything to help your relationship with them.”
“Nta” ~ trvllvr
“I agree with sitting down with the kids, but just stating the facts – their mom did not agree to let him take the kids out of the country.”
“Their mom being racist is obvious in her behavior.”
“The kids can see that without the reminder.”
“Then I’d try to figure out a way to take a trip that cannot be taken away with the kids who are not getting to go – even if it is small.”
“Given that you can call from the other country for free, stay in contact without pettiness (look what your mom is keeping you from) or accidentally promoting jealousy (this is all the cool stuff I did with my other family today).”
“NTA, but be careful not to get sucked into the drama, and keep being inclusive as much as possible.” ~ 3H3NK1SS
“Even though your ex is trying to abuse the court system, this is definitely an issue for your attorney.”
“My decree (in the US) states that a parent cannot refuse to sign for a passport or deny international travel without a valid reason, like an attempt to kidnap or it’s during the school year or something.”
“She’s doing this out of malice and if you try to handle this with your attorney quickly, it may be out of her hands and in your favor.”
“Best of luck” ~ snarky_spice08
“NTA but I really hope you’re holding on to any communication from Kate that can be presented to your lawyer.”
“This screams as an attempt to alienate you from your first kids.” ~ PsiBlaze
“NTA. Kate refused to allow them to go. Tell them this. It is not fair for the rest of your family to suffer because your ex-wife is unhinged.”
“Go on vacation, document Kate’s behavior and see your lawyer.” ~ Sea_Firefighter_4598
Not everyone was on OP’s side.
“Did you not care that your kids couldn’t come? you planned a whole vacation – and when you learned their mom refused to sign – said ‘oh well. i’m gonna get mine.’
“You could have pause this vacation until your kids are of age.”
“This is a big yikes for me. YTA.” ~ yup_thats_scary
“Look, your ex wife sounds like a witch— I think that’s pretty indisputable at this point, and she robbed your two children together of an international experience out of pettiness.”
“That’s on her.”
“But these are your children, and you had the option to book a vacation in country that they could attend.”
“They didn’t choose their mother— you did.”
“But you chose to prioritize the vacation destination you wanted over a different destination that would have allowed your entire family to be together.” ~ Old_Philosopher8855
“While I agree it’s the mother’s fault, you could have traveled domestically to not leave out the kids, and hopefully travel abroad once you work through this a bit more with the custody through the courts.”
“It sucks, and not your fault, but is your fault for not compromising something that will work for them since their mom threw a wrench in it.”
“Sometimes things happen and you have to readjust.”
“Readjust now and take the family vacation and start doing everything you can to do another trip in the future.”
“If you don’t they might not even want to do another trip with you again with the bad taste from this one in their mouths.” ~ smashleys
About that Ex.
“NTA your ex-wife is a racist, manipulating, gaslighting, & probably a narcissist AH.”
“You will never be happy as long as this women is in your life.”
“I don’t know how, but, you need to talk with your lawyer and try to find a way to cut her out of your life while still keeping your two children part of your life.”
“Keep audio, video recordings every time you interact with her. save all text and emails as proof. And maybe you will find a legal way to cut your ex-wife out” ~ Rough-Eyes
“NTA, your ex is a horrible racist, and I really hope that your oldest kids are seeing her for what she is!” ~ hotRLB
“Your wife is a racist and tried to make a power play.”
“Make sure your kids with Kate know the reason why they couldn’t go (unless that is ammo for Kate to use in court).”
“NTA; she’s absolutely disgusting (I myself am in an interracial relationship, and I would NEVER tolerate that from anyone I am with if they tried that with my partner)” ~ EntrepreneurOk249
OP did return with some closure.
“I talked with my wife about the situation after reading through many replies posted here.”
“My wife doesn’t want to cancel or rebook the vacation because she doesn’t want to give Kate more power over our family. I agree.”
“I sat down with Mike and Abby and, again, explained the situation.”
“They are really angry with their mother and apologized to my stepdaughter for initially blaming her. They really aren’t happy with us going on this vacation without them.”
“I told them we could take a separate trip with only them domestically.”
“They liked that idea.”
“Another option was that I could still figure out to make them go with us, if Kate would still sign the documents.”
“Maybe they could convince her. I told them to be careful to not overly antagonize her though.”
“Kate can be nasty to them too, and I don’t want them punished when they are at their mother’s.”
“We are planning to go international next year too, and I learned my lesson. I will go to court well in advance and hope that the judge will ok the permission.”
Racism isn’t okay.
If this is a radical take then so be it!
The question here, though, isn’t whether or not OP’s ex is a racist.
She is, and she’s wrong.
Everyone is going to have flaws – some far larger than others – but at the end of the day, we are here to let our kids be happy, not to use them as pawns.