Is the children’s photo album also a contentious issue with you?


Today I would like to devote myself to a very special, tiny little aspect: the photo album that documents your child’s growing up.

Tiny little aspect? Hardly. Because behind it lies emotional explosive power.

And possibilities of control by the ex.

It can become an unexpected problem, even if outsiders may now shake their heads in wonder. What should be difficult about it? The photo album belongs to the child, who else?

Of course it belongs to him. When he or she leafs through it later as an adult, he or she should be allowed to remember the most beautiful moments possible.

Yes, even from the time spent together with the toxic child’s father. Not every child has bad times with the father, even if he is highly narcissistic and gives the mother hell. We look at the child and rejoice in his beautiful experiences.

Whether we look at the photo albums from the family time together or the photo albums that will exist after the separation and cause headaches – we also have to learn to deal with them.

The baby photo album from the time you were one family

I don’t know about you, but the pictures still give me a stab in the heart. It hurts me when I see the joyful and happy pictures that captured a moment that looked 180 degrees different half an hour later.

Now, the reality is that the camera is only pulled out when beautiful moments are to be captured, and rarely documented when the moment is ugly and emotionally distressing.

So when I look at the pictures, there’s a whole other movie playing in the background at that exact moment. All the ugly scenes, the assaultive behavior of the Ex mother-in-law, and everything else that ultimately led to the separation.

So – I myself have zero need to look at the pictures over and over again.

For my child, on the other hand, the pictures are proof that he was a wanted child and welcomed by everyone. And that is beautiful and should be so visible to him – he has his own relationship with the people in the pictures.

So this photo album is with me and kept by me – but it is not mine. Just as it does not belong to the father. Someday I will give it to our son, because that is his childhood we have documented there.

Separation makes things complicated

For me, it was a given that the baby photo album traveled with me when I moved out with our son.

For others, this is not so clear. It can happen that the toxic Ex doesn’t hand over the photo albums after several requests and uses them as a means to control the mother. And the photo album even makes it onto the list of points of contention in court!

It can also be that the Ex is suddenly very interested in photos with the child – after you have told him about your wish to separate.

He, who used to be available for family photos only extremely reluctantly and in a bad mood, suddenly starts taking thousands of photos of himself and the child.

As if he wanted to document that he spends a lot of time with the child (which does not even remotely correspond to reality). Such a photo album exclusively of him and the child could certainly make an impression on the court when it comes to the alternating residency model as a way to save on child support later on.

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Would you like to know my opinion on this?

If the Ex doesn’t hand over the photo album from baby times, let go of it. The photo album belongs to the child. If he doesn’t give it to the child later, then the child has to clarify this with the father, not you.

And if you got scared because of the fake photo album – document regularly with the camera when you are alone with the child. Then you can also present a nice photo book to the judge. But one in which the clothes regularly look different…?

The photo albums after the separation

My Ex had initially sent me a number of pictures by email even after the separation. This always had an undertone of “Look what you missed!” or even “We’re having so much fun – without you!”.

And – oops! – there was sometimes a picture of the child together with the Next, who is lovingly taking care of it. “Sorry!” (hihi)

At some point I told him that I don’t want to get any more pictures and that he should please take care of them himself for our son, just like I do with the photos I take of our activities and vacations.

His time with the child: his pictures – his job.

My time with the child: my pictures – my task.

Both of our tasks: keeping the treasures of memories until the child takes them over.

Whether my Ex sees it the same way, I don’t know. To be honest, I don’t care – our son will take care of it himself when he’s grown up.

Special curl joint photo album for the child

Now, in my German moms’ group on Facebook, I sometimes get to see what kind of hair-raising cross-border cases there can be.

There the toxic Ex demands pictures of the mother with the child from their contact or vacation time for a common photo album.

Whaaat? ?

I ask: What kind of joint photo album? Surely there is no more time spent together? You are no longer one family?

What should a photo album unite that no longer exists? How ridiculous is that?

Leaving aside the fact that we should all implement the “No Contact!” rule as best we can, so that we can build our own lives and stabilize ourselves emotionally:

This back and forth with photo sharing, etc. pp. is just another way to constantly control and contact.

I don’t want pictures of me collected by my Ex either. Why should I?

Do you want to feel confident about managing child hand-offs with your toxic ex?


In summary

The child has two different worlds of experience – a home and a time with the mother, and a home and a time with the father. Everything is double: Christmas, Easter, birthday parties, circle of friends.

It’s okay to have two rows of photo albums.

And no, you are not taking anything away from your child or adding to his trauma if you refuse to exchange photos with the toxic child’s father and thus the “ideal world” photo project does not come about.

Either way, your child will have a different childhood than his peers with parents who value each other and have really built a strong family bond with great vacation experiences together.

That’s just the way it is for those of us who have escaped toxic relationships.

The best way to help your child is to respect the fact that he has his own special relationship with the child’s father and that he can have wonderful experiences there. You don’t have to be informed about them in detail via a powerful imagery that could rather destabilize you.

For your own protection you can draw this line.

And should your Ex still dwell on the old photo books from your time together: Let go. Then you will be less attached to one of his strings.

How do you see it? Has the photo album been an issue in your breakup or are you rubbing your eyes in wonder right now? I look forward to your comment below.

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