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Mom Called Out By Southern Ex For Teaching Their Kid About New Fiancé’s Vietnamese Culture

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Some parents agree that learning about other cultures and languages is important and enriching for their children. Other parents? Not so much.

Parents who disagree with each other can seriously confuse their children, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor Famous_Rip_4892 found herself on one side of the divide when she taught her son about her fiancé’s culture.

After repeatedly hearing her ex-husband’s concerns, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if she was doing the right thing for her son.

She asked the sub:

“AITA for teaching my child about a different culture against my ex’s wishes?”

The OP was getting remarried. 

“I live in the South, as does my ex and our almost 8-year-old son.”

“I am engaged to a man who is from Vietnam, and his family is a huge part of our lives.”

“(My ex and I have joint custody, we are both very White.)”

The OP’s ex did not support his son learning about another culture.

“My son has picked up on certain words in Vietnamese, like how to address certain people, and he has started using those. My fiance and I think it’s great and have been encouraging and praising my son when he uses them correctly, as it shows respect to my fiance’s family and culture.”

“My ex is upset, because he feels we are taking away our little guy’s southern heritage and trying to replace it.”

“[He also feels] my fiance and his family are not our son’s family and never will be and that it’s not appropriate for our son to learn that sort of stuff when it’s not his heritage or culture.”

“My ex is ‘The South Will Rise Again, Good Ol’ Boys’ type and wants our son to be a through-and-through-Southern boy like he was.”

“I’m of the mindset that the more our son is exposed to and learns, the better he will be for it.”

The OP was worried for her son.

“It’s causing conflicts between my ex and me, obviously but I don’t want to discourage our son from learning anything that could be beneficial to him.”

“I am definitely concerned that the conflict with my ex will end up putting our son in the middle.”

“My ex has already said he doesn’t want our son using those words, as we speak English, and from what my son says, his dad gets upset and yells at him not to speak that language because it’s not his heritage and my fiance and his family are nothing to my son.”

“AITA??”

Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some agreed with the OP’s views on learning a second language.

“For real, being multilingual is great under any circumstances, but especially learning a language that is as different from English as Vietnamese is will do wonders for his brain.”TheJujyfruiter

“NTA. In fact, you should go all in and get your son lessons in Vietnamese. Bilingualism in children comes with all sorts of cognitive and intellectual benefits, including greater ease at learning a third language.”

“It also literally takes NOTHING AWAY from him. Learning about a different culture from his own doesn’t preclude loving and appreciating his own. I’d strongly suggest you do a little reading on academic studies about the effects of bilingualism.”

“However, your ex might take this as a reason to try to get more custody or cause problems between you. OP, check the laws in your state about consent for recording and then legally record every single conversation you have with your ex that isn’t via text or email. (You might have to tell him you’re recording.)”

“Document ALL of your interactions with your ex from now on (in a folder in the cloud), in case you need evidence that your ex is racist and is preventing your son from learning.”

“Then sit your son down and tell him clearly that his dad doesn’t like that he’s learning about Vietnam, so it’s best not to have these conversations with him. Help your son strategize avoiding uncomfortable conversations without lying.”usernaym44

“I love that he’s using terms of address in Vietnamese – it’s affectionate and he will grow up knowing the right way to address your fiance’s family and how to refer to himself in relation to them, which let’s be real isn’t always the easiest to get to grips with if you come to it as an adult.”

“I understand the concern that he will get punished for speaking Viet in front of his dad. You can encourage him to keep learning, even if it ends up being a case of ‘English only’ at your ex’s house. Never the AH for encouraging him to learn and be better than your ex.”elsewhere

“Well, right now it sounds like your son is warm and welcoming to your husband and his culture. But with it being an integrated family and your ex and his family being ‘good ol boys,’ it might be worthwhile to talk to a professional about the best way to go about this throughout the years. Who knows what ex and family are saying, will say, or how quickly they will escalate.”

“Best to go into it well informed and prepared. Keep exposing him to new cultures and people. Normalize differences. Congrats on the new fam and your son being so bright (picking up on a second language)”JustMissKacey

Others couldn’t imagine the OP’s co-parenting situation.

“Yikes. Good luck co-parenting with that guy… sincerely, good luck, I can’t imagine this will be the last dispute like this you’ll have.”Ok-Statistician233

“Good thing he’s your ex! That’s so gross and an instant red flag to me.”

“You’re NTA, there are so many beautiful things to learn about other cultures, and I think it’s amazing that your son is so willing to learn that and use it in his everyday life. It’s great that you’re encouraging that, it’ll only help him to be more worldly and accepting and inclusive later on.”

“Also, tell your ex the south never ‘rose.’ Ever. There is no again. It never happened in the first place.”taine_salter

“Ex is a racist. It’s a big diverse world. Learning about other cultures, races and religions will make your son a better and more empathic human being. Good for you for standing your ground. You are raising your son right.”brooklyngal2

“I’m sure you have done already as it seems like your son is accepting and encouraging of different cultures, but you should talk to him about how sometimes that things dad says aren’t good and we shouldn’t ever repeat them, and if he’s not sure, say them to mom first and mom will let you know if they’re okay to repeat. You don’t want him to be at all influenced by his racist father.”

“As for teaching your son about other cultures? 1000/10 NTA it’s a fantastic thing to do and helps to encourage inclusivity and a better society. Never doubt yourself!”Bob10294759

“Your ex isn’t just a racist, he’s a literal white supremacist and you should engage the services of a mental health professional to figure out how to make sure your ex doesn’t radicalize your kid against his own mom and stepfather.”Flower-of-Telperion

The OP may have felt a little conflicted about how to handle her ex-husband’s discomfort, but the subReddit didn’t see a reason to be concerned. Learning a second, or more, language is beneficial to a child, both for their brain development and their growing empathy. To discourage that would be to limit his child, and in this case, to be cruel to the extended family.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.