Shared parenting can be tough following a divorce, with both parties wanting a say in the child’s life.
The situation can grow increasingly complex when there are step-parents involved, and the father or mother shudders at the thought of being usurped.
One mother has taken to Reddit to share her struggles with her ex, detailing his fury at their eight-year-old son’s exposure to her new fiancé’s culture.
She explained that her boyfriend is from Vietnam, and that his family is “a huge part of our lives”, but said her former partner (who, like her, is white and American), doesn’t want their little boy losing his southern US heritage.
The mom described how their son had “picked up on certain words in Vietnamese” and started using them.
“My fiancé 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,” she wrote in a post shared on the site’s ‘AmITheA**Hole’ forum.
“My ex is upset because he feels we are taking away [the] little guy’s southern heritage and trying to replace it,” she added.
Describing her former partner ominously as a “south will rise again, good ol’ boys” kind of guy, she said he “wants our son to be and through and through southern boy like he was”.
However, she continued: “I’m of the mindset that the more our son is exposed to, and learns, the better he will be for it.”
She went on: “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”. She also stressed that she was concerned the disagreement would “end up putting [him] in the middle.”
Ending her message, she clarified: “My ex feels my fiancé 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.”
She added: “My ex has already said he doesn’t want our son using those [Vietnamese] words as we speak English, and from what my son says, his dad gets upset and yells at him not to speak that language.”
Fellow Redditors were quick to denounce the ex-husband’s behaviour, branding it “racist” and indicative of “white supremacy”.
One said: “Just call it what it is. Your ex is racist. Saying he’s like, ‘The south will rise again’ is just you avoiding the fact that they’re racist. Case in point: your ex is uncomfy with your son speaking another language.”
Another user said they were glad the little boy had some “good parents to balance out the bad dad”, pointing out: “Your ex is uncomfortable that his son has a positive male role model from a different ethnic heritage than his own.”
Meanwhile, a third wrote: “I get the idea that without saying as much, your ex is the guy driving a giant truck with a Confederate flag and telling people he’s proud of being a redneck hillbilly racist.”
The original poster (OP) replied: “Do you know my ex?? He proudly declares he’s a real country boy and redneck. I’m like, ‘Thanks for reminding me why we split when our son was a toddler’.”
She added in a separate comment that her former husband had got a tattoo of the Confederate flag.
However, a fourth commentator suggested that the ex-husband’s issues were less rooted in “Murica pride” (a slang term for America stereotyping how white southerners might pronounce the word), and more in “fear and resistance that he’s being replaced and forgotten”.
But, the OP stressed: “I am not kicking my ex out of our son’s life, I’m asking that he allows our son to learn and have a healthy relationship with my fiancé’s family, just as he has a good relationship with my ex’s [girlfriend] and her family.”
Elsewhere, another user argued that “southern culture” shouldn’t be viewed as synonymous with white supremacy.
They remarked: “Part of Southern culture used to be politeness and respect for elders and family, both of which your son is displaying. Good job!”