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Mom furious with ex-husband's new wife; 'She's NOT coming on our son's college tours.' AITA? UPDATED 3X

Mom furious with ex-husband's new wife; 'She's NOT coming on our son's college tours.' AITA? UPDATED 3X


When this woman is furious with her son's stepmother, she asks the internet:

"Mom tells ex-husband's new wife. You're NOT coming on our son's college tours. AITA?"

My son will be a senior in high school this fall and we have been touring colleges. We toured a few this spring and plan to tour several out of state ones throughout the summer.

The plan was for myself, my husband, and his father to do the tours together. We’ll be touring 4 schools, and he’s coming to 3 of them.

Some background: my son’s father and I split up before our son was 6 months old. Soon after our relationship ended, I met my now husband and we got married when son was 3. My ex has been supportive of our relationship and thinks my husband is a great stepfather.

Our coparenting relationship has been challenging at times but we’ve done just fine for the sake of our son. Last year, my ex eloped with this woman, Shelly (not her real name). They dated for only a year or so before marrying.

I don’t know her too well since we’ve only met twice but I know she has three kids of her own, her oldest is about the same age as my son. My son dislikes her.

He thinks Shelly is mentally unhinged, is way too involved in his personal business, and he blames her for being the reason he hasn’t been able to spend as much quality time with his father lately.

Earlier this week, I was coordinating with my ex about the details of our next tour. Everything was great until he mentioned that Shelly would be coming along on all our tours. I asked why and if it was necessary that she tag along. He said that she just wanted to be supportive.

I asked him if her daughter was looking at these schools too, since she’s also going to be a senior, and he said no. So why is she coming if her own child isn’t planning on attending those schools?

I told him that our son should get a say in who comes to the tours and that I would ask him what he thought about Shelly joining us. After I got off the phone with my ex, I asked our son if he wanted Shelly to come with us.

He immediately replied no and that he wasn’t comfortable with her coming. I told our son that he should speak with his father and let him know about what he thinks.

Fast forward to last night, my ex calls and is furious that I would “get our son involved in this matter.” I replied that our son is the one touring the colleges and making decisions about his future, and he gets to decide who can come along.

Not to mention, our son is almost an adult and at his age is more than capable of deciding who he wants in his life and to what extent.

Son has been vocal to his father about his feelings about Shelly. He accepts that his father loves her but he doesn’t see her as family. So I told my ex that if he loves his son and wants to continue having a positive relationship with him, then he needs to respect his wishes and leave his wife at home.

End of story. Ex replies that I’m an AH, Shelly cares about our son, and that he should be allowed to bring his wife with him whenever he chooses. Was I wrong? AITA?

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

chuckin87 writes:

NTA- I'd just tell him one last time- dude- you are making your son super unhappy. If she actually cares about him, then she should respect his wishes and boundaries. The fact that she refuses says that this is about her, not him.

Respecting your son's wishes does not make me an A.H. You cramming your wife, who already needles him, down his throat makes you the AH. Just remember we had this conversation in a few years when you come to me asking me why he won't speak to you anymore.

teresa7t writes:

NTA. No student needs four "parents" with them on their college tour. Shelly will most likely be bored and make everyone else miserable. I recommend you make future college visits without your son's Dad or his wife.

Also, have you discussed/arranged the split of college costs with your Ex yet? It's possible that Shelly could cause trouble when it comes to paying for college, especially if she thinks her kid(s) deserve your Ex's support too or if she seems your son's college to be too expensive.

If you don't already have clear plans regarding your son's college expenses, you might want to discuss this with your Family Attorney. In some states that favor college support from divorced parents, the filing for amended support orders could possibly need to be filed before the student turns 18.

peakabhy writes:

YTA / ESH. If step parent isn’t a valid title to tour with then it’s not a valid title period. Not step dad is okay but step mom isn’t, ESPECIALLY when son was asked by mom which came with a clear bias and directed the conversation.

One of four adults shouldn’t be singled out, three adults is also too many anyway. Take your son alone, let dad do the same, or just do mom and dad. Your son will remember a BAD trip if dads dealing with home issues while he’s touring college as a sullen father and with a mom who’s including step dad on decisions.

No kid wants a bunch of adults whole he’s trying to picture himself as an adult on a college campus alone, much less three or four of them with varying opinions.

This was an insanely bias way to ask the son, and no one is actually realizing this trip revolves around him not the marriage. The relationship in question is him and the school. Let him focus on that, not parental relationships.

The less adults the better. One tour with mom and dad together or separate and he’ll have both your perspectives ok questions to aks.

comprehensiverow56 writes:

ESH. A wife should be able to go on a family trip. Son should be more accommodating... GRACIOUS about the fact his parents are paying his way to college.

Why can’t he be respectful of his father’s new family unit? Son is more than old enough to be a respectful adult.

Doesn’t sound from anythingI’ve read here that Shelly has done anything egregious… son just doesn’t want to be around her. He shouldn’t automatically get his way as if his opinion trumps everything else.

pettywhite7 writes:

Yta. Neither you nor your son get to dictate who goes on the tours. Your husband is going, so his wife should be allowed to go. Especially since both of you have been paying into the fund that will be paying for his tuition.

The only reason that you have given for your son not liking his stepmother is because she wants to be involved in his life and now that they've gotten married he has less one on one time with his dad.

That's what happens when people get married. I'm sure your son has less time with you one on one than if you were single.

The only reason he resents her more than your husband is because your husband has been around since he was a kid. You should be encouraging your son to give her a chance instead of pitting him against her and riling things up.

foreccc6 writes:

ESH - your bringing your husband, albeit he’s been in sons life longer than Shelly but if your bringing your spouse then your ex should be able to bring his. After all surly he’s paying for her to go or she is paying for herself to attend.

You are right in theory that she doesn’t really need to go but then does your second husband need to go really? Sons gonna have a small posse of parents trailing him around.

Ultimately it is your sons choice but from what you’ve said you are cutting Shelley out because of silly things when she could be an asset to the trip and see things you don’t. It sounds like she is trying to bond with you and your son and participate in his life but you sound angry at her because;

A) she’s taken the fathers time away from your son, what did you expect tbh I imagine your husband takes up some of your time away from son too only he’s used to it since he grew up with it.

B) you claim son said she’s unhinged. Why? Is she just a bit different than you, second husband and son or has she done something to actually deserve to be called such.

Maybe she has autism, adhd, mental health issues which make her a bit different than yourselves. She deserves the same care and consideration your ex husband gave you and your second husband.

Shelley deserves some kindness unless she’s done something wrong.

buttstuckelevator7 writes:

This echos my familial life ALMOST perfectly. I’m 29 now but back in Grade 5 my dad started dating this woman and eventually moved in with her and the rest is history.

But I never wanted ANYTHING to do with her. It severely affected my relationship with my dad because I just didn’t want to be around her and she was ALWAYS there. He’d ask me to come hang out somewhere and lo and behold there she was.

At a celebration of life my mom and I were outside talking to a friend we hadn’t seen in years and out comes my dad’s girlfriend answering questions asked about me like she has any clue who I even am.

My mom and I just looked at each other and I had half a mind to just tell her to f off. Being unwillingly thrust into a merged family can be daunting and aggravating and I feel for your son.

I’d let your ex know that the more he tries to push his wife into your son’s life the further he’s just going to end up pushing your son away.

sadletterhead76 writes:

I'm hoping that son's issues with new step mom aren't mom's issues with new step mom. Son's not the Asshole but you are for upsetting him without really explaining to dad why son didn't want Shelly to be there. The way some of it is said didn't sit well with me.

It just reminded me of my mom, whenever I would come come from my dad's weekend she'd ask me about my visit and everything my step mom or dad did my mom would put an ugly spin on it.

I had dyslexia and was struggling with reading (my mom was a homeschool mom) my dad suggested I be tested. My mom told me she was sorry my dad thought I was stupid. I was never tested and I struggled with my assignments and would be punished for it.

Turns put I am dyslexic and could have learned tricks to help me but my moms hate for my dad was more important that what was best for me and my siblings. We were in multiple after school activities and church activities and we were tired and burnt out.

My dad said he was worried we had too much going on and she turned it into our dad didn't want us to socialize. I'm hoping this isn't the case with OP. I think it's odd you didn't explain why or why you didn't even let Shelly know before involving the son. Maybe dad changed after dating Shelly.

accomplishedfly6 writes:

ESH - a little. But only because I don't like that you asked your son if he wanted Shelly there, then told him to talk to his dad about it. You should have been the one to talk to his father, you put your son in an awkward and confrontational situation with his father.

You used him so the decision would be more impactful on your ex. Regardless, if he doesn't want her there, he doesn't want her there.

I would also like to understand what Shelly has done to get this backlash, and if it's something able to be sorted through. Though you don't seem to like her at all either ("this woman"). Your ex seemed really supportive of your new marriage and the sentiment doesn't seem to be mutual.

wrynn writes:

Ultimately you're NTA because your son doesn't want her there, however I find it strange that you got into it with your ex questioning why Shelly was coming & insinuating that she has no right to be there before you ever spoke to your son about it.

She's his step-mother, she has the same "right" to be there as your husband does as your son's step-father. Obviously your son's comfort with who attends trumps who has the right to be there so if he doesn't want Shelly there she shouldn't go;

but you clearly have an issue with her yourself based on all the unnecessary detail like how long they dated before marrying & jumping in to ask why she'd want to attend etc.

The fact that your son told you after the fact that he doesn't want her there tipped me over into saying NTA, but it was close for me. I think you probably were being an AH, even if a justified one, if we just look at your initial response/reasoning...

but the fact that your position does align with what your son wants means ultimately your position is right even if your reasoning is flawed.

Side note: I'm not American so I don't know much about the college system, but is it normal to have 3-4 adults go along for college campus tours? Assuming it's roughly analogous to leaving school & going to uni that feels like a lot of people. Does more than 1 of you need to go at all?

funkgarbard writes:

YTA A year is a pretty common amount of time to date before marriage for older adults.

You make it sound like your ex got a mail-order bride last month. It would be normal for a new spouse, whoms child will be leaving for college soon, to establish some kind of relationship with the child, and in this case, I really mean child.

Your son, apparently old enough to be attending colleges, believes she is mentally unhinged because she is too interested in getting to know him?

He balmes her for why he doesn't get as much time with his dad to the point the concept of allowing her to walk in the same air space as him is too much of a burden to bear? Kid is softer than cotton.

OP provides this first update:

What I didn’t include (because word limits) is that we have 4 tours, and ex is only going to 3 due to one being in conflict with a family wedding.

My husband (son’s stepdad) isn’t going to one of them because of a business trip and might have to bail on another one. But it was son’s choice to have his stepdad there because a) he loves him like a dad and b) one of the schools were touring is his alma mater.

So the breakdown is actually this: 1. Mom, Dad, Stepdad 2. Mom, Stepdad 3. Mom, Dad 4. Mom, Dad, Stepdad.

And honestly, I never said that I disliked Shelly. I’ve only met her twice so I can’t say for sure how I personally feel about her. But my son dislikes her, and it’s enough for me to have some negative feelings about her.

I’ve been completely neutral about Shelly around my son so I’m not stirring things up between anyone. If anything, I’ve been the one trying to smooth things over. But if my son doesn’t want a relationship with her, that’s his choice.

I don’t see how her coming along would be a “bonding” experience since her presence makes him uncomfortable. And the only reason my husband is coming is because my son asked him to. My husband has been in my son’s life a long time and they have a strong bond so of course he gets to come and support our son."

And now, OP's 2nd update:

First of all, thanks for the validation and the kind words some left. I’ve read nearly everything you all have left so thank you. I’d like to emphasize for anyone who may have missed it in my original post that my son has been the main one communicating his boundaries to his dad, not me.

My son is 17 and more than capable of setting and enforcing his own boundaries. Also, since some expressed that it’s hypocritical for my husband to be there but not Shelly, let me reiterate that my son ASKED his stepdad to come along on the tours!

And ex is fine with him being there and it was never an issue in the first place. There’s also a lot more to the story behind why my son doesn’t like Shelly that I couldn’t explain in my original post.

If it was up to me, I’d like him to get to know her better but, I understand his reasons, and I honor them. I’m certainly not pitting him against her like some of you implied.

I talked to my son late last night about his father being upset about him not wanting Shelly to come along. I told him that I fully respected his choice and reminded him that he can share this experience with whomever he wants.

I encouraged him to talk to his dad again, explain his feelings about the situation, and I let him know that I was happy to step in if he needed me. I also added that if he ultimately decided that he wanted to go on these tours alone...

or with just one parent to avoid drama (which I communicated might be the best option but that’s just my opinion and he doesn’t need to consider it if he doesn’t want to) that that would be okay too. It’s his tours, and his decisions.

So he called his dad this morning and calmly told him that he didn’t want Shelly coming along on any of the tours and explained his reasons, which mainly included needing time with his dad sans Shelly, and him not wanting an “entourage” accompanying him on his tours.

“Five is a crowd, dad.” (I lol’d when he said that.) This time my ex was more receptive and told our son that he respected his feelings. But then he put son on the spot and told him he should to talk to Shelly directly about her not coming.

He was not comfortable with that and requested that I step in and talk to both his dad and Shelly. So I got on the phone and repeated that this was our son’s decision. I didn’t say anything about son disliking Shelly or feeling uncomfortable around her, because that is beside the point.

Shelly was clearly disappointed, and said she understood and only wanted an opportunity to bond with her new stepson. I replied that it was sweet of her to want to get to know him better but a college tour isn’t the time nor place.

Overall, she seemed to be okay with it. We spoke for another minute or two and then she left the conversation and I talked to ex for a little while.

I reiterated to him that ever since Shelly came into the picture, our son feels like he doesn’t get as much quality time with his dad anymore because either she’s there during their entire time together or he’s busy being a stepfather to her kids...

(son doesn’t have an issue with his step-siblings but also I want to make sure ex makes time for his own kid).

I also explained to him that if Shelly not coming was going to be this big of a deal to him, then he shouldn’t come either. He said he understood where I was coming from and apologized for calling me an AH. I asked him if it was Shelly who was pushing this issue or if it was him.

Based on his response, I got the sense that Shelly expressed an interest in going, was okay not going if that was really son’s decision, but my ex just really wants her to feel more like a part of his family so it’s a mix of him appeasing her but also wanting his son to get to know her better.

So I gave him two choices: either he comes without Shelly and uses those opportunities to have special time with his son, or he doesn’t come to the tours...

and we find a weekend for him and son to spend one-on-one time but either way, Shelly isn’t going to be there because our son isn’t interested in a relationship with her right now and he shouldn’t force it onto him.

He said he’d think about his choices. So all good there! I hope he decides to leave Shelly at home and come to whatever tours he can because I know how important it is to our son.

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

Sources: Reddit
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