A man who took his son away from his wife—the boy’s mother—because she had been secretly letting the boy meet with the man’s estranged mother has the internet debating.
The man, u/whitepollar, shared his side of the story to the popular Reddit forum r/AmITheA**hole, and earned 8,400 upvotes and 4,300 comments in seven hours for his post, “[Am I the A**hole] for embarrassing my wife by ‘taking’ our son from her in front of her family?”
The original poster (OP) opens by saying that he hasn’t had a relationship with his mother in 15 years, when she “broke up the family to marry some dude” when he was 15. He hasn’t seen her since she moved out, and they last spoke on the OP’s 18th birthday, when he told her that if he had children, they would never know her.
When his estranged mother’s relationship ended a few years ago, she attempted to reach out to her son on social media, but he immediately blocked her. She then tried to reach out via his wife, “Chloe.” When he told Chloe the situation with his mother, she agreed she wouldn’t contact her, even though, he says, it was “hard [for Chloe] to accept because she doesn’t have her mom anymore.”
“My wife was pushy at first about me opening up to reconciling. But when she learned i wasn’t budging she learned to accept it,” u/whitepollar wrote.
However, it turned out that Chloe hadn’t actually kept that promise. When u/whitepollar was fixing their smart doorbell camera, he figured out how to see old footage. While testing this feature out, he happened to see his mother. He went further back on the timeline and kept seeing her, with Chloe letting her in, and noticing that his mom had been staying for hours.
His wife was at a party with her side of the family and had taken their son. The OP texted to ask why his mom was visiting, but didn’t hear back from hours. He ended up printing out some of the screenshots showing his mom’s visits and wrote a letter saying that he was taking their son to stay at his dad’s until he “knew [he] could trust her again.”
He says he then drove over to the party, said hello, took his son, handed his wife the letter and told her to check her phone and not read the letter in front of people. While he was gathering his son’s things, Chloe read the letter and asked if they could talk. OP denied this request saying she could call him once he arrived at his father’s.
“She then caused a scene crying and begging to talk. I didn’t want a scene. So I left,” he wrote.
Once he arrived at his father’s they did talk—and she was upset at how he handled it. He shot back that “she is the one who broke down in front of everyone,” and that he was the one who “tried making it as lowkey as possible,” saying she “embarrassed herself.”
Though he says he’s coming home with the boy this weekend, he doesn’t want to apologize.
While it is becoming more common for people to cut “toxic” family members out of their lives, there is sometimes pushback from other members of the family. For example, one mother took to Reddit complaining that her daughters didn’t like each other, and was appalled when one didn’t invite the other to her wedding. In that case, she was resoundly bashed on Reddit for trying to force a happy relationship where none existed.
Some relationships can be mended—but forcing it doesn’t work. Psychologist Chloe Carmichael told Newsweek three ways to handle a toxic family member. She recommends setting boundaries and sticking to them and attempting to talk it out first. But if these both fail, the last step is evaluating if one needs them in their life, and if the answer is “no,” cutting all contact from them.
Reddit was divided over who was in the wrong.
“[Not the A**hole], that is a very deep betrayal. As someone who was estranged from my father for some time, this would be utterly devastating and I am so sorry. I hope she thinks very deeply about what she’s done and does everything in her power to regain your trust,” u/deepwebslut wrote in the top-rated comment with 10,400 upvotes.
“Something I haven’t seen many people mention – the kid’s five. He’s old enough to talk. Sure, he’s not waxing lyrical on the merits of Chaucer over Shakespeare, but he’s old enough to be able to say ‘daddy, I saw granny today,'” u/axw3555 agreed. “But in the last few months the kid hasn’t let anything slip. Which to me suggests he’s been coached to keep it secret.”
“[Everyone Sucks Here]. Sure, you made it as ‘lowkey as possible’…apart from the fact where, despite your son not being in any immediate danger that would warrant urgent intervention on your part, you just had to do this in public instead of waiting for her to get home,” u/mm172 countered.
“Let’s face it: you wanted her publicly humiliated. And while one can argue whether or not she deserved that for blatantly disregarding your wishes regarding contact with your mom, if you want this marriage to survive the situation, admit you acted out of anger so you can focus on the actual problem and see if that’s something you two can fix or not,” they continued.
“Going into a family function to snatch a kid away from his mother is not okay, I don’t care how ‘calm’ he appeared while doing so,” u/IsTheWorldEndingYet8 added.
“[Everyone Sucks Here] I am no contact with several members of my family and would hit the f**king roof if my husband went behind my back to facilitate their visits with my children,” u/051015 wrote. “However, you could have been waiting at the door when she got home. Could have been playing back ring footage on the TV and demanded an explanation. The way you handled this is ridiculous, even if nobody knew you were mad.”
“After reading your comments im gonna say [You’re the A**hole],” u/Exotic-Panda9887 wrote. “Your not the [a**hole] for not wanting your mom in the picture. But you are [the a**hole] for everything else.
“You 100% meant to cause a scene and if anyone at this point is going to destroy your family it will be you,” they continued. “What your wife did is wrong but what your doing is vindictive and controlling if i were your wife id divorce you and get full custody and then block you.”
“[Not the A**hole] Wow. A lot to unpack here. Not going to touch your feelings for your mother and if that’s justified or not, but that doesn’t matter. What matters here is she DEFINITELY didn’t respect your boundaries and quite literally went behind your back,” u/Rstar2247 wrote. “This just seems a petty effort to attack you and put herself in the moral right to others because she knows she had no ground to stand on otherwise.”
Newsweek reached out to u/whitepollar for comment.