This summer, a lengthy and bitter custody battle reached its conclusion.
On this week’s Teen Mom: The Next Chapter, Gary Shirley and his wife, Kristina, are processing this news.
It’s hard. They’ve been through a lot with Amber, but they have a tearful conversation about her pain.
On Tuesday night’s episode, Gary Shirley shared with Kristina that he had spoken with Amber Portwood.
Amber is not only his ex; she is also the mother of his daughter, Leah.
Gary reported to his wife that he had discussed the new situation with Amber and “she sounded really sad.”
An Indiana judge, the couple acknowledged, had ruled in favor of Andrew Glennon.
Family court decided that Andrew would not only receive custody of the former couple’s son, but also permission to move out of state.
Andrew had noted that he had job offers in California — and an invitation to move into his mother’s Malibu mansion.
As the discussion continued, Andrew and Kristina both expressed their feelings on the matter.
Kristina, who of course is a mother herself, began to tear up.
Clearly, it was out of sympathy — for Amber, for Leah, and apparently for little James himself.
Meanwhile, and despite his ex’s long and alarming history, Gary expressed genuine surprise at the family court ruling.
“I had a feeling it wouldn’t be 50-50,” he admitted.
“But,” Gary continued, “I didn’t think he was gonna be allowed to take him out of the state.”
“She’s proved, at least in my opinion, she can take care of James,” Gary expressed.
“It sucks. All I can think of is poor James,” Kristina cried.
She then admitted: “I can’t imagine how she feels.”
“I guess I’m just in shock and upset by it,” Kristina explained of her pained reaction to the news.
It’s true that Amber has been cruel to Gary and Kristina (physically abusing the former of the two, back when Leah was little).
But Gary has, for complicated reasons, grown to sympathize with Amber in recent years. And so has Kristina.
And later, during the same episode, Gary had to not only discuss the news with another family member — he had to break the news.
He sat down with Leah, who is 13 years old.
When he shared the news with her, even she lamented what this means.
Leah expressed to her father that “It’s really unfair” that Amber will no longer have custody of James.
“My mom and James have a nice relationship,” she observed.
Leah then very maturely acknowledged that this mother-child bond is “Not like we had when I was growing up.”
“It’s like all the work she’s gone through to be here,” Leah lamented.
She expressed that “now it seems like it’s all for nothing.”
We’re sure that Amber, who constantly touts her own progress and believes that it should override her personal and criminal history, will be happy to hear her say that.
Meanwhile, Kristina offered moral support to Amber.
“Leah doesn’t want you to feel like a failure as a mother,” Kristina told her, “because you are not.”
Sometimes, telling a kind lie to someone does no harm.