Dad Asks: Am I Wrong To Give My Son A Lavish Life Even Though His Mom's Other Kids Don't Get To?
When parents separate or divorce, things can get sticky pretty quickly. This is especially true if one parent is able to provide a quality of life — even what could be described as a lavish life — that the other simply can’t match, which is exactly the situation one dad has found himself in.
“brief back ground. about 9 and a half years ago my wife cheated on me, got pregnant, and left me for him. courts gave them custody of our son because single dad vs family.
“Ive since gotten remarried and had a couple kids(7 and 5 and a half), ex and her new man have also had 2 more kids.
“wife and I both work as engineers and have dang good salaries to put it lightly, ex and new husband havent ever done particularly well.”
You can see where this is going, right? The dad writes that he enjoys a pretty lush life with his wife and their younger two children, but he feels bad that he hasn’t been able to give his oldest son the same kind of opportunities — because his ex asked him not to.
He goes on to say that he always wanted to, but was told no:
“Ex wife didnt want me sending my son ‘lavish’ gifts or taking him on the family vacations so her other siblings wouldnt get too jealous and build resentment towards him(her words). Meanwhile he was understandably(I feel) upset he wasnt getting as nice a life as my other kids were as he got older.”
The dad says that his son got sick of it, and he wanted to be able to do what his other siblings get to do:
“he asked to come live with me, I said yes id love to have him ex wife said no. thank God the courts sided with what my son wanted. Since moving in everythings gone fairly smoothly for us. my younger kids LOVE having their big brother around all the time, he loves them, we still go on our vacations every january, for his 16th birthday he got a nice used buick he wanted.”
And now his ex is pretty mad:
“Since then [expletive] hit the fan with his mom/my ex though. shes [expletive] how much hes getting and getting to do, keeps texting and calling both of us about how his younger siblings will never be able to get all he has and its not fair and now her kids are upset and how im a horrible dad for forcing his siblings to resent him.”
The dad said that he got so fed up he told his ex-wife that he doesn’t care if she’s mad — he wants to provide all three of his kids with the same lifestyle. And this sounds like it should be fair, especially since it’s his child, too. Both parents should get to contribute to their child’s lifestyle.
People were quick to support the dad in his efforts. One person noted that how his ex’s kids feel isn’t up to the dad, it’s up to her:
“They’re not your kids.
“And no one is forcing them to be resentful except her.
“Keep being a good dad to all your kids and don’t worry about it.”
Another person pointed out that the ex-wife is really concerned about how her two younger children feel, but she doesn’t seem as concerned about how the oldest son feels about the situation:
“Imagine how much resentment the boy would build up if [the original poster, OP] gave in and treated him to less than his other kids? The son would resent his paternal half siblings for getting more than him, his mother for demanding it, his father for giving in and his maternal half siblings for being the ‘root of the problem’, and all that so that the ex’s precious babies don’t feel bad.”
Someone else pointed out that this is actually a great moment for his ex-wife to teach her kids a great lesson: comparing your life to someone else’s will never get you anywhere:
“She’s missing a chance to teach them a valuable life lesson. Unless you’re Jeff Bezos there are always going to be people who have more than you. You can resent them or you can ignore them and enjoy your life. Comparison is the thief of joy.”
Another commenter noted that they’re in a similar situation, but with their own brother:
“My older brother just closed on his first house. I’m really happy for him, but it’s pretty unlikely with where I live and what I do that I’ll be able to do the same by the time I’m his age. I just won’t be able to have the same life he has.
“This doesn’t mean that the solution is for him to give up on his house dreams. You don’t create equality by forcing people to have less so others don’t feel bad. Everyone ends up worse off that way. If you feel bad, you can create more good by thinking of little things he can share with the rest of his family—maybe a video game he can play with everyone or nice snacks he can share. Or you can do nothing at all.”
Ultimately, everyone agrees that this is on the ex-wife to confront and deal within her own home, not the other way around. While it’s obviously tempting for her to offset the blame onto the dad, it frankly doesn’t make a lot of sense (and isn’t fair to the son that they have together).
In the end, the dad is just trying to give his son everything that he can, and he probably shouldn’t be penalized for that. As one commenter put it:
“It does not sound like you are manipulating your son with lavish things. You are treating him like you always would. Good on you for providing an amazing life for all your kids! Shame on your ex for trying to victimize herself and her kids.”