WHY should I keep him in touch with his father? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 05-27-2012, 11:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I haven't posted up here in over a year... but I'm really feeling like I need some other momma's words here, than just my friends who are biased and angry.

 

Quick run-down, ds is 2.5 nearing on 3yo. We've been split since he was 18mos. Ex is sometimes the Friday nite dad, but not consistent. I am OK with him having Friday nights when he's available and I sometimes ask for other times, such as tonight... I"m self-employed so I have to work on Memorial Day, but because I have no daycare, I asked him to take our son. I'd say 80% of the time, he's not available. Tonight he was. Yay!

 

Dad is not a "bad" person in any way. He's just not that interested. He has two other children (with two other mommas, so much drama... yuck). We're all late 30s, but it still feels like a Geraldo episode. My son is my Only son, but Dad has to split his time with his three children every weekend. I do understand that.

 

While not "bad", he is a loser in a lot of ways - and no I don't use that term lightly. I mean, he doesn't work, doesn't pay child-support. I have state-mandated support from him but because he doesn't work... null. He lives with his father, which is the BEST thing going for him and why I love my son being there, because HIS father (gpa) is amazing. Dad, maybe not so amazing, but when my son is with his father, he's also with an amazing, devoted, playful 70+ grandpa.

 

My question to the abyss is... I'm self-employed. I make 50+K/yr. I work from home and could live anywhere. Right now that is 3000 miles away from MY HOME which could consist of grandparents and uncles and men for my son if I were back there. But I'm staying here because I feel like my son should be near his father.

 

I'm recently thinking... WHY?

 

I mean.... really... Why?

 

I am not dating. I'm happy being single. But I think my son should know men. I don't have a man to be that "man" in his life; right now he has his father. But his father is not.... well, devoted in any sense of the word. I feel like I'm sticking around here for my son to be with his Gpa - and maybe that's enough right there.

 

But.

 

I think I need some other responses out there about parenting... BIO-parenting. Why it's important for my son to know his father; why that relationship is important. Again, I'm not throwing another man in his life. I'm just considering that his father is not that interested, things are not that great, they don't spend much time together any way.... why do I feel like this is so important?

 

I appreciated your BTDT advice.

 

....good story: tonight my son is with his father. Camping on property with his 5yo brother. Awesome. Having the time of his life. Dad and I have great communication - he's sent me photos; responds to all of my texts. I am never scared for my son; I know he has a ball with his father/Grandfather.

 

... bad story: pretty much everything other than day to day. Dad has never been to any WBV, never once seen a pedi (even when we were together). And we have some issues with our son which he's neither concerned about nor ever questions. I'm saving 5K to (potentially, if needed) have tubes put in his ears. Dad will never give $10 to that fund. Dad will never consider insurance. Dad will never ASK about appointments. Dad will never be there in anything more than the Friday night visit. Dad is not, at all, living in the bigger picture. And to date, I'm pretty sure that Dad has never had him for 24hrs straight. picks him up at 4:30 from daycare and brings him back at 10am, and sometimes asks to bring him back sooner.... to his credit, only because he's off to pick-up another child for their night with him. Dad is seriously.... fun Friday (with Grandpa).


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#2 of 13 Old 05-28-2012, 04:53 PM
 
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It sounds to me that your son would be better off if you moved home, and your relatives would be a positive influence on him.  I don't think that you can count on the Grandpa being there every Friday night, can you?
 

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#3 of 13 Old 05-28-2012, 07:08 PM
 
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When my twin sons were approaching 3, their dad and I were split up, he was irregular about seeing them and didn't seem to really connect with them or know what to do with them, when he did have them.  I also wondered, "Why don't I just move where I'd rather live?  What difference would it really make, in their relationship with him?"

 

Now that they're about to turn 17 - and spend about half their time with their Dad, and share common interests with him - I have concluded that some men who are capable of connecting with older kids simply don't know how to relate to toddlers.  It's not fair, I suppose.  Mothers are expected to connect with kids at all ages and stages.  Why should fathers get off the hook?  But that's not really the point.  My sons' current relationship with their dad is no less valuable to them, because I was a better parent than he was, when they were younger.  They don't even remember that.  Only I do.

 

Maybe your ex will never be a stellar parent.  But, you seem to imply that he's a better parent to his other kids, who presumably are older.  And as you said, you could move whenever you want.  If you allow several more years for your son's relationship with his dad to improve, but it never does, you can still move near your relatives later.  Even when your son's ten, it won't be too late for him to bond with an awesome grandfather or uncle.  But if you move 3,000 miles away from you son's dad now - when he has no money and three other kids to co-parent - you will guarantee that your son will never have much of a relationship with him.  You simply cannot know, when he's 2.5, what kind of a dad your ex will be to him, when he's more verbal, mature, self-sufficient and fun (for an adult male to be around).

 

Biology doesn't make people good parents, obviously.  But I think most kids feel like their biological parents are part of them and, on some level mourn not having a connection with them or spending time with them.  Even kids with wonderful adoptive parents, who want for nothing in their filial relationships, usually still wonder about the people who contributed to their DNA and could still bear to give them up.  So, if your son does connect with his dad when he's older, that relationship will likely mean more to your son, than having a good relationship with your brother would.

 

Keep in mind, you've broken up with this guy.  You seem to have decided he was a bad choice, a "loser".  But you can't go back in time and give your son a different father.  You should really consider to what extent that's what you'd be seeking to do, by moving - and how much of that is about you, wishing you'd taken a different path and how much of it is about what's best for your son?  I'm not saying I know the answer.  I don't know you.  I'm just saying you should give that a lot of thought.  Understandably, it's hard for you to imagine that your ex holds any more potential value for your son, than he does for you now.  But he might.  Your son is not a very separate person from you, at this age.  But he will be, the older he gets.  He and your ex might wind up with something really valuable, between them.  It's way too early to tell.  And you're not considering moving across town, but somewhere that your ex can't possibly be expected to visit often enough to maintain a relationship with your son.


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#4 of 13 Old 05-29-2012, 01:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This is an impossibly difficult situation and the reason I'm asking up here is because ALL of my friends/family seem to say.... Move away.

Even my step-mother looks back on her choices with my step-sister and believes that allowing her daughter to have a relationship with her father was never a positive thing, and she'd do it differently if given the chance.

I have all these voices saying "go away" for whatever their reasons - because they want us closer, because they never really cared for him in the first place, whatever..... part of me still screams... He's His Father! Bad/Good, there/not, interested/not.... whatever, that's his father, you know?

 

I want to make the best decisions for my life and the life of my son -- granted, if I were being offered an amazing job somewhere, I'd take it. That would be easy. But if it's just moving for moving's sake.... it's NOT that easy.

 

And I know that my son will have questions in the future - why did we move? why didn't you stay together?

I want to make sure that I've justifiable, and very honest (to myself) answers to those questions.

And sad & selfish as it might sound, I want him to have access to his father enough so that he can SEE some of those answers.... if he's not interested, I'd rather him see that directly from his father than believing the only reason they don't have a relationship is because I'd stood in the way or just moved us away from him.

 

I definitely agree that while he might not be so interested right now, that could change. And of course my son will want to know his father.

It's his Father. That's super crazy important. 

 

Enyhoo... thanks for the input. Not doing anything immediately. But if I were to move, it could be in 6 months, so it's definitely on my mind.


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#5 of 13 Old 05-29-2012, 02:31 PM
 
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I tend to see these things through the lens of the domestic abuse that my children and I suffered.  I would dearly love to have the freedom to move away from my ex, and his influence on the kids.  I think parenting is the other responsibilities than just a good time every now and then, and the *possibility* of a good relationship later.  A man who doesn't work and doesn't pay child support?  Really?  Doesn't seem like an ethic I'd like my kid to learn...and the kid will figure it out when he's 8 and 'Daddy doesn't work' so why do I have to?  etc.

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#6 of 13 Old 05-30-2012, 05:44 AM
 
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Originally Posted by JordanKX View Post

And sad & selfish as it might sound, I want him to have access to his father enough so that he can SEE some of those answers.... if he's not interested, I'd rather him see that directly from his father than believing the only reason they don't have a relationship is because I'd stood in the way or just moved us away from him.

 

I definitely agree that while he might not be so interested right now, that could change. And of course my son will want to know his father.

It's his Father. That's super crazy important. 

You're wise to consider both of these things.

 

Without going into a bunch of detail, my DSS lives with us and his mom's far away.  My DH got custody when DSS was 8.  Even though 8 doesn't sound that young, DSS really doesn't remember much (or perhaps anything) about the problems when he lived with his mom.  Especially when DSS hasn't seen her in a long time and misses her (and feels sorry for her, knowing she misses him),  it's pretty easy for his mom to convince him (at least, for the hour or so after he gets off the phone with her) that DH "tricked the system" into taking DSS away from her, for no other reason than to break her heart, because DH is just a mean "bully".  Of course, that's more black-and-white and extreme than what you're talking about.  But I don't think it's selfish to recognize that it may be better for a child to see the truth for themselves, about a problem parent, than to wrongly blame everything on the more stable, reliable parent.  It is sad.  But would it be healthier for your son to damage his relationship with you and idealize his dad, because you're the only one he really knows, so he blames things on you that are really your ex's fault?  Of course not.  That's a good point.


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#7 of 13 Old 05-30-2012, 06:56 AM
 
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So I'm going to answer from the point of view of an adult who grew up in similar situation. Parents split when I was 18 months and dad was never that involved with the parenting. Dad did work and paid child support, but he had other character flaws.

That being said, I really enjoyed the time I spent with my dad. It's hard to see the value in an X, especially when they aren't super involved in the raising of a child. I can see from my mom's perspective that our relationship wasn't worth much, but it meant a lot to me. It was a free, easy-going time. No pressure about school or behavior or whatever. Of course this drove mom nuts and I really understand that it’s not fun to be the parent who has to enforce rules and say no and puts in all of the effort while dad just got to be fun. But that's what I needed, a place to go to just be, with no expectations. 

Like you mentioned, spending time with dad allowed me to realize that I would have been worse off living there, maybe not when I was 5, but when I was older I could appreciate the extra effort mom put in. I probably could have built a fantasy around him if I'd only rarely seen him.

 

As for biology, my mom remarried when I was 5. So it's been a few decades that step-dad has been in my life and I have nothing bad to say about him. Honestly he is more of a respectable person, but he'll never replace dad. I have traits that just scream dad despite never living with him. I shared more interest with the paternal side of my family.

 

Good luck with whatever you decide. If there was abuse or your child's life could be significantly improved by moving then I would say go for it. Or if you really, really hate it to the point that it's impacting you and thus your child. If not then I would wait, like pp said you can always move later.


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#8 of 13 Old 05-30-2012, 07:07 AM
 
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Originally Posted by JordanKX View Post

This is an impossibly difficult situation and the reason I'm asking up here is because ALL of my friends/family seem to say.... Move away.

Even my step-mother looks back on her choices with my step-sister and believes that allowing her daughter to have a relationship with her father was never a positive thing, and she'd do it differently if given the chance.

I have all these voices saying "go away" for whatever their reasons - because they want us closer, because they never really cared for him in the first place, whatever..... part of me still screams... He's His Father! Bad/Good, there/not, interested/not.... whatever, that's his father, you know?

 

I want to make the best decisions for my life and the life of my son -- granted, if I were being offered an amazing job somewhere, I'd take it. That would be easy. But if it's just moving for moving's sake.... it's NOT that easy.

 

And I know that my son will have questions in the future - why did we move? why didn't you stay together?

I want to make sure that I've justifiable, and very honest (to myself) answers to those questions.

And sad & selfish as it might sound, I want him to have access to his father enough so that he can SEE some of those answers.... if he's not interested, I'd rather him see that directly from his father than believing the only reason they don't have a relationship is because I'd stood in the way or just moved us away from him.

 

I definitely agree that while he might not be so interested right now, that could change. And of course my son will want to know his father.

It's his Father. That's super crazy important. 

 

Enyhoo... thanks for the input. Not doing anything immediately. But if I were to move, it could be in 6 months, so it's definitely on my mind.

 

The bolded is very important. As the custodial parent, it is not our job to "protect" a child from their other parents flaws (with the obvious exception being abuse or true neglect - then it is absolutely our job to step in and stop the contact, or make sure it is properly supervised). By allowing our children to see the flaws, they don't build a fantasy about the NCP, and have a more realistic view of what is going on.

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#9 of 13 Old 05-30-2012, 07:52 AM
 
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I never wanted to be the reason my kids didn't have a good relationship with their dad.

I wanted to give them all the opportunity to know and experience one another for who they are and what their relationship will or will not be.

If he screws up -- that's on his shoulders -- not mine.

 

My ex is not very involved at all and as my kids get older, they see him for who he really is and what he's all about.  They have their own relationship with him and while he's definitely not even close to being the kind of dad I would have liked my kids to have -- he is their dad and their relationship provides a lot of opportunity for the boys to learn and grow.

 

There is no easy solution to these things.  I know it got easier for me when I stopped judging their relationship with their dad and just allowed it to be whatever it was going to be.  The yardstick I use when I've had to make decisions like these is 'How will I feel when I have to look my kid in the eye and tell them why I made this decision?"  It has helped guide me in times that have been especially tricky.

 

Good luck.

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#10 of 13 Old 06-09-2012, 09:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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There is no easy solution to these things.  I know it got easier for me when I stopped judging their relationship with their dad and just allowed it to be whatever it was going to be.  The yardstick I use when I've had to make decisions like these is 'How will I feel when I have to look my kid in the eye and tell them why I made this decision?"  It has helped guide me in times that have been especially tricky.

 

This is Exactly what I'm internalizing right now.

 

My friends/family seem stuck on the negatives, that his father is not doing any great service by being in our son's life. They question me that all the time, "is it really worth it to drive him out there on  a Friday just so he can have a few hours with him".

Maybe it's not "worth" it - I don't even know that really means... to THEM. But they are not my son. Right now, it seems pretty important to him, the child! He loves the drive out there; he loves when his dad picks him up from daycare.

Now, do I dislike the disheveled crazy child that I get back after those 24hrs (quite a bit), and do I contemplate all the things that happened/didn't in those 24hrs (of course!). And that's when I question whether or not it's worth it to ME (different rules - no rules; different schedule, potentially neglected, whatever... I could make it sound as bad as I want to depending on my mood).

 

But it's still his father.

And right now he's 2 1/2.

 

I am seriously worried about the future and what could be the story after 24hrs (like smoking pot with your dad, or him getting any impression that working off the system is a viable way of life). But as you all point out, his father could change in 10yrs himself. Doubtful since he's 38 and hasn't changed yet, but possible.

 

Enyhoo... I REALLY appreciate your words and insight here. I'm learning about a lot of things concerning my son, that listening to family/friends is not the way to go. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but no one is living my life except me. And I really need to stick to what I feel is right... right now.

 

If moving becomes a real option in the near future, I'll make sure it's for the Right reasons and not just because I'm swayed from others' opinions. Thanks for the help and unbiased btdt opinions.


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#11 of 13 Old 06-10-2012, 03:57 AM
 
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I want to post on this topic from the point of view of the child.  My parents split up when I was 4 and I lived with my mom.  We were about 2000 miles away from my dad and he was fairly uninvolved at that point in time.  Both parents were very poor, so visits were few and far between (about every 3-4 years), with phone calls about 1-2 times per year.  I recognized from a very early age that my dad was the reason I lived with my mom and that he wasn't a dependable person, without influence from anyone else around me.  I never harbored any ill feelings towards him for it and simply knew that's the person he was.

 

When I was around 15, he got a job that allowed me to see him about 1-2 times per year, and that's when our relationship began to change.  He was living a more stable life, and it came through in  his actions.  Now, at the age of 32, I'm very close to my father and very happy to have the relationship I have with him.

 

Through all of that, I know that my mom absolutely made the right choice to take me to live near her family in those early days rather than living near my dad simply because he was my dad.  Having that family around me as I grew up had a HUGE impact on my life and really helped me to be the person I am today, especially my grandparents.

 

You're in a very tough spot and it's definitely not going to be an easy decision.   


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#12 of 13 Old 06-13-2012, 11:00 PM
 
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Step away from what everyone is telling you and breathe deeply. What do you know deep down? Go with that and don't explain it to anyone. If you have the legal authority, or at least no one will call you on it, do what you deep down know is best for your son. A lot of mistakes have been made trying to satisfy what everyone else wants you to do with your life. But, they are not living your life. Sure, they may have some very good input. But, you make your decisions in your child's best interests and make no apologies about it.

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#13 of 13 Old 06-23-2012, 11:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Step away from what everyone is telling you and breathe deeply. What do you know deep down? Go with that and don't explain it to anyone. If you have the legal authority, or at least no one will call you on it, do what you deep down know is best for your son. A lot of mistakes have been made trying to satisfy what everyone else wants you to do with your life. But, they are not living your life. Sure, they may have some very good input. But, you make your decisions in your child's best interests and make no apologies about it.


THANK YOU for this.

It's been 18months of being single-momma. It's not new, but it's not 4yrs, you know? And they all want to help, I know they do. The voices in my head, between parents and friends... they can be overwhelming at times. Ultimately, it comes down to me. And I am NOT a weak person. At least in work & life, I'm the opposite.  But sometimes when you hear something over and over again, and it's about your baby, that little person (and HIS relationships, HIS world as he gets older), I want to remove ME as much as I can from the equation.

 

I've got to learn to shut out the opinions. I've considered stopping asking, but that's unfair too. I just need to learn to Hear, digest... and act accordingly to me and our life. It's just us, really.

Really.


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