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Man's ex-wife says, 'your parenting to our daughters in SICK!' he says, 'I'm gonna get you in court for parental alienation!' AITA? UPDATED

Man's ex-wife says, 'your parenting to our daughters in SICK!' he says, 'I'm gonna get you in court for parental alienation!' AITA? UPDATED

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When this man is furious with his ex-wife, he asks the internet:

"AITA for shouting at my ex in front of my daughters?"

I (37M) have three girls; 8, 10, and 12. Their mother walked out on us for another man when our youngest was around 4. My ex still stays in contact, though, and pays child support.

A few weeks ago while doing laundry, I saw red spots on my oldest's underwear. I asked her if she knew about it, and she cried and told me she tried to call her mom, but my ex didn't call back.

She'd been stuffing toilet paper in her underwear, hoping that would work. I explained to her that periods are nothing to be ashamed of, and found some great resources online for us to review together.

I took her to the store to pick out brands of feminine products she wanted to use (she picked Playtex Sport because she's a gymnast).

After we were done, I decided I should do the same thing with my other two. My 12yo volunteered to be part of preparing them, and we made a whole night of it; it was wonderful, and I learned a lot. I even learned what a menstrual cup is, and how they benefit the environment.

The other day, my ex called back. I'll usually arrange a video chat and leave the room so they can have some alone time, and when they're done chatting, I'll come back in to talk boring co-parenting stuff like school, bills, etc.

This last time, my ex was FURIOUS with me for talking about periods with the girls. She shouted at me that I was sick and perverted, why didn't I call her myself if I knew it was so urgent...

I could've called one of their grandmas/aunts, but my mom has dementia, while her mom and sisters call me a loser because I teach kindergarten, so I'm not fond of them.

My ex told me I was being immature and should have just toughed it out for the girls. This really pissed me off, so I shouted back that maybe if she wasn't such a deadbeat and answered her goddamned phone once in a while, she could have handled this.

I brought up everything she does that hurts them; she hasn't been to a single soccer game, piano recital, or gymnastics meet in two years, every other weekend when they come home from her house, they go straight to their rooms, only to emerge hours later asking me why she loves her new husband more than them...

and what did they do to make her leave. My ex responded by saying I should tell them it's not their fault I couldn't satisfy her, and I screamed "f you", and she just smirked and pointed behind me, saying "Look what you did"

When I turned around, my 8yo and 10yo were standing in the doorway crying. It broke my heart; I never shout, so I know I scared them. My 12yo stormed in and started screaming at her mom, and while I appreciate her sticking up for me, this is not a battle I want her fighting.

My ex hung up before I could fully deescalate the situation, and let's just say the girls have been given free reign of the ice cream and limitless hours of video games, because I feel so bad. I even watched all the Twilight movies with them, so don't say I don't love them. But in this instance, AITA for shouting? This is parental alienation!

Before we give you OP's update, let's take a look at some of the top responses:

NTA. Ok, you should maybe have stopped the conversation when you found it getting out of hand, but she knew exactly what she was doing-she saw the kids behind you and didn't warn you, deliberately, so she is equally responsible for exposing them to the shouting.

She sounds like a terrible mother and you sound like a great dad. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a dad talking to daughters about their body, as long as they are comfortable with the conversation.

My dear old dad had 3 daughters only a year apart, and we all ended up syncing our periods-he knew exactly what each of us preferred and every month would leave a big bag of sanitary products and chocolate bars in our rooms.

magicmauiwowee writes:

NTA. You didn’t realize the argument was in front of your children and you have every right to your feelings. What a shitty situation.

That said, your anger at your ex and her ways of poking at hurt feelings are not going to be productive at all.

Your kids need to know that mom is problematic in a way that isn’t blaming, and focuses on their issues with her (the neglect, abandonment etc), not yours (adult relationship issues).

It’s time for a talk about expectation on how mom can show up for their relationship with her, and in what ways not to expect things from her she will never give (emotional support, consistent physical presence, etc).

It’s also time for you to get therapy and anger management support for your feelings about this traumatic split in your relationship. You obviously have a lot on your shoulders, and anyone in your position would need help managing your feelings and stressors. It’s a lot to deal with.

You love your kids and you did the right thing about the periods. Your ex is an asshole and is behaving very immaturely. It’s inexcusable that she’s using your child’s very sensitive state of puberty to punish you for what she perceives as you being not enough for her. How awful!

fibchop writes:

NTA- Oh my heart is breaking for you! You, sir, are an amazing father and a wonderful man. Your ex is a se%ist and I am so very happy that your girls have you to counter her ugly, toxic views and inability to parent.

Menstruation is not some mysterious feminine voodoo secret that is somehow sullied by male understanding and involvement. It is a simple biological process that occurs in rough half the population.

You handled it perfectly with grace, humor and love. Hang in there Papa Bear, they’re little now, but one day they won’t be, and they will continue to need you so much as they come to terms with their mother’s sexism and extreme selfishness and ugliness.

Edit to add: Apologize to your girls. Tell them honestly that you lost your temper, you were wrong for shouting, and that you’re sorry. Its good for kiddos to know that moms and dads make mistakes too, and are willing to admit them and apologize for them.

Doing so doesn’t make you an asshole, it makes you human. If they want to continue to discuss the incident to process it, remind them about a time they lost their tempers and shouted at you or a friend or each other and then talk about their feelings during those times...

and how yours were similar, and then make a plan together for how you can all react better the next time anyone feels like they’re losing their temper. It will help soothe their worries to know that this is not a big scary unknown, but a specific problem that has a solution they can understand.

It’s frustrating to have to do that because no doubt you’re seething (I would be) and only sorry that they heard you, not that you yelled at their horrible mother.

You’ll be glad you swallowed it though, when your anger subsides and when you’re looking back, years from now, on decades of honest, involved life with your babies while your ex is wondering why her girls never call and don’t care to involve her in their lives.

brilll writes:

NTA, YOU BRILLIANT, LOVING, EMPATHETIC FATHER. Firstly, if I were in your girls position, I would have loved to have a father that wasn't freaked out by periods or 'toughed' them out. I've seen grown men get squeamish at their girlfriends' periods, they're awful. Good on you for making them feel good about this and helping them navigate it.

Secondly, good on you for calling out your ex. She seems toxic and unsupportive and totally ABSENT as a parent. Reminds me of my awful mother.

By saying 'look what you did' she's just trying to emotionally manipulate you into thinking her inadequacy is your fault. You didn't make the kids cry, SHE made them cry by not being there or being a being a decent parent.

Definitely don't be afraid to call her out on her toxic behavior. And please keep the same attitude you have with your girls! They're happy to have you as a dad. The 12 year old even stuck up for you! :) Trust me. You're definitely the favorite.

jendi76 writes:

NTA. You are a good father and they shouldn't be scared to come to you for anything. You proved that by going over periods with your daughters and making sure they had all the information and choices.

You arent making anything taboo to speak of and should be commended for it. If your ex cared, she would have gone over this beforehand. Your ex has abandoned her children and poonts the finger at anyone except herself. She pushed your buttons and you had a slip up.

A slip up does not an asshole make. Especially if you tried to de-escalate and remove them from the situation immediately upon discovering they were there. It sounds like your daughters love you and you love them.

I am sorry to hear that she does not... especially if her reaction to her daughters overhearing the fight is to blame you and make no concern for them. That was a despicable thing of her to do.

hauntedbe writes:

NTA. Children are not given enough credit for how much they actually understand. I don't think your children cried because you yelled at your ex, I think they were upset that their Mom would treat you so poorly. Kids idolize their parents. I'd imagine they were sad for you, and sad because their Mom can't seem to be a Mom.

But on the period issue, you handled it wonderfully. The fact that your ex seems to think that it is a taboo thing to discuss and should only be talked about by women is disgusting. There is nothing "sick and perverted" about being a parent to your daughters and teaching them about periods.

You brought up very VALID things to your ex, about how she is hurting your daughters and really ruining their self esteem. They feel like it is their fault their Mom doesn't love them or support them.

Your ex took the opportunity to bait you by saying very hurtful, inappropriate comments likely KNOWING your daughters were behind you. You reacted, and then she SMIRKED because your kids were crying. She manipulated you and hurt your kids intentionally.

Overall, your ex is se%ualizing your daughters for menstruating and making comments about you se%ually in front of them. She is also emotionally abusing your children by shattering their self esteem and making them feel that they are unlovable and the reason she left your marriage. She is HURTING them.

I really hope you consider limiting her custody as much as possible, and helping your kids help themselves by attending some counseling to understand the complex emotions they must be feeling.

And now, OP's update, a month later:

It’s been almost a month since my original post, and a lot has happened since then. Many of you asked for an update, so here goes:

Last weekend, the girls were at their mom’s. After she dropped them off Sunday night, my 12yo asked to talk to me in private. We went into her room, and she showed me two recordings she’d taken on her phone; one of my ex trying to convince them I was abusing them...

and one of her and her husband arguing about how much she was paying in child support, and I’ll be honest here - my cousin is a family court lawyer and basically raked her over the coals. It wasn’t pretty, but I was still extremely hurt over the affair. I even got alimony.

Anyway, my 12yo told me she didn’t want to go to her mom’s anymore, but she said she felt she had to because she’s the oldest sibling and it’s her job to protect the younger ones.

I’ve always instilled this value in her (I’m an oldest child myself) but seeing this just made me even more upset, because now it’s just another battle she’s fighting that she shouldn’t be.

She’s also just started to figure out that her mom cheated, and over the past couple weeks she started firing tons of questions at me about the timeline of their relationship I couldn’t really answer, and after showing me the recordings, she literally demanded I answer her, yes or no, did her mom cheat on me.

It wasn’t easy, but I told her the truth, with the promise she wouldn’t tell her sisters (as much it sucks, that’s my job, not hers).

The way she cried on my shoulder was the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever experienced, but she was catching on and I figured if she’s going to find out regardless, it should be in a setting where she’s comfortable. After she was done crying, I told her to email me the recordings she took, and called my cousin.

We’ve just started the paperwork, but my cousin is certain we can get my ex nailed for parental alienation, and since she got a promotion a few months ago, I should be able to renegotiate the child support payments as well.

Most importantly, the recordings should be enough to give me grounds for supervised visits only, which is what I want.

I still want the girls to have a relationship with their mom (especially since the younger two still want to see her), I’m just going to have to make sure I’m present at all times when they’re with her. Coparenting is oodles of fun, kids!

Anyway, I also want to give a huge thank you to all the supportive comments and messages.

I’m not the best with technology, seeing as my most valuable job skill is herding 5yos, but I wouldn’t trade it for any other career. Thanks for all your support!

What do YOU make of OP's story? Any advice for him?

Sources: Reddit
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