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Dad pays 21K to send kid to private school behind ex-wife's back. AITA?

Dad pays 21K to send kid to private school behind ex-wife's back. AITA?

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When this man feels guilty about a financial decision he made behind his wife's back, he asks Reddit:

"AITA for paying 21K to send my kid to private school behind my ex-wife's back?"

Our son is 8 and has an incredible curiosity about the world. His first and second grade teachers gave nothing but glowing praise in regards to both his intellectual growth and his demeanor.

However, his third grade year has not gone well. His teacher has sent us several emails stating that our son does not pay attention in class and is cold toward his classmates.

When his mother and I asked him how school is going, he tells us he hates it. He said "all the teacher does is yell at the class to stop talking, then the kids keep talking and we never do anything and I hate being there."

I can see the light fading from his eyes every day and every Sunday night mid-September on he cries because he doesn't want to go to school.

My son lives with his mother and spends weekends with me. We all live in the same town and I would describe the relationship between his mother and I as cooperative, but bad feelings persist. I asked my son a few weeks ago if he wanted to change schools and he responded "God, yes."

I asked his mother if she would have any issue with me sending him to a highly-regarded private school about 17 miles from our town. She reacted in a way that was not expected.

She said I was being ridiculous and that it would be an undue burden on her to take him to a different school (fair) and it would be unfair to her other children if only one of her kids got to go to private school.

I added that I would take him and drop him off everyday and pay for it 100% and she still said no. I told her I don't want our son to waste his potential, nor do I want to fail him as a father. In essence, she responded that our son is just being a brat because he's bored.

I registered him at this school and paid the tuition. He starts in August. I told him what I had done and he was elated. Naturally, upon hearing this news his mother was apoplectic. All I said was "fine, you tell him he isn't going because you think he's a brat." AITA?

Let's see what readers thought.

throwaway51 writes:

ESH the first and second grade teachers were great, the third grade teacher is bad, and there’s no option for getting the class changed, talking to the teacher, talking to the principal?

Not to mention that starting in August doesn’t address the issue this year at all, who knows what the 4th grade teacher would be like. Your ex doesn’t sound great, but you went nuclear here.

rileyxdoll writes:

YTA, you could have won in a custody modification hearing, easily. You shot yourself in the foot and made yourself look combative with a possible claim for alienation on her part because you got the kids' hopes up knowing he would he mad at his mother if she says no. Well done sir, you turned a slam dunk into a crapshoot.

entertainmentkind writes:

ESH. Both OP and his ex-wife for not communicating further and trying to reach an agreement before OP went nuclear. OP sucks for going behind his ex’s back and making a decision that did not need to be made for a couple more months at minimum.

OP also doesn’t talk about whatever interventions they have taken as parents to either add enrichment for the son (does the school have an honors program or other things the son could do for enrichment), to speak with the teacher/principal, or to teach the kid coping skills for how to manage boredom or dislike of a situation.

Also, has he been to the doctor to test for adhd, inattentive type. He may be struggling because of boredom because it’s actually ADHD (which it seems could be inherited if dad is impulsive and doesn’t think through decisions like enrolling him in a school and paying tuition without having the other parent on board and trying out other inventions).

I’m a psychologist, and one pattern of maladaptive thinking that often leads to depression or discontent in life is called magical thinking. It’s the belief that things will be better when or if something changes (ie, things will be better when I change schools).

Unfortunately, all this does is set the kid up to stop trying to find satisfaction, enjoyment or engagement in his current situation (because I don’t have to, I’ll be out of here soon), and it can lead to him quitting things easily in the future when things get difficult or he doesn’t like the situation.

As others have pointed out, this is the first terrible year and the others have been great. Maybe next year will be better at the same school and maybe, with intervention, the rest of this year could be better.

OP is more the AH in this situation than his ex, for sure. I get that it sucks to see your kid unhappy, and as a parent I know you want to move heaven and earth to make them feel better and be happy. However, there are a lot of unintended consequences for OP’s impulsive decision before trying other interventions.

So, is OP definitely TA or is this an ESH situation? What do YOU think?

Sources: Reddit
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