I'm new here, but hoping to make some new friends, and get some advice from those who've been in the trenches.
I'm a single mom to a wonderful, loving daughter who just turned 6. My ex is suddenly wanting to "have" her at his place, despite never having been very involved or providing real child support. There is no legal agreement, so my question is, how can I make this crazy situation work for us...or at least suck less. I have been scared off going to court thanks to all the father's rights stuff and 50/50 agreements unless (sometimes even if) the dad is a child abuser. He is not physically abusive, but he can be emotionless and cruel, & always puts his own needs first. I believe he has Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Her dad & I were engaged but never married. My ex had a son from a previous relationship who lived with the mom. Ironically, I felt sorry for him not getting to see his son much, and I thought it was sweet how he'd call every day to talk to his son.
My ex moved out when our daughter was 2 months old, to get back with his son's mom/his ex, who had previously lived outside of the U.S., but who moved to my state when my daughter was 2 months old (allegedly she gave him an ultimatum to pick one family or the other, and allegedly said she'd move far away again if he didn't pick her). Their a son is now 10.
My daughter has always lived with me. There was no formal, legal custody agreement since we were never married. At first, my ex came by a lot, in between jobs (he was in home improvements). But he quit that job, & has never since been very involved. He sees our daughter once a week max, at my house, for a couple hours. His wife makes him bring their son, since she thinks we might get back together if left alone. My daughter only sees her dad one-on-one about once a year.He refuses to be tied to a schedule of any sort, ie taking to / picking up from childcare (age 3), pre-K (age 4), or Girl Scouts (age 5.) He has refused to babysit her in our home on the 2 nights a week I work (I teach Mon & Wed, 9 am - noon & 6-9 pm; one of his days off is Wednesday, but he has never used it to see his daughter one-on-one- does not even own a car-seat!!!). However, since she turned 6 AND tested as "gifted & talented" at the end of kindergarten, he now is demanding that he have her at his house, for weekday evenings and some overnights on weekends.
1. He doesn't actually parent the child he does have, just let's him play video games & nintendo. He says he's "too tired" after work to play outside. Plus, he always tells me he doesn't love her and is only there for his son. It does not seem like a happy house. There were no family photos on the walls; place looked a bit grim & unloved. No pets, aside from a fish who died. He also does not have any reltives here, for our daughter to get to know...
2. They sublet 2 bedrooms in their house to various tenants who come and go.
3. They owned almost no toys. When he's at our house & I ask him to play lego or a kiddie boardgame with our daughter instead of chatting on the phone & surfing the net, he complains that it's "too boring." 99% of time when I invite him to meet him at a playground, he says he's too busy or has a prior commitment.
4. He works every day except Wed & Sun as a delivery guy. His hours vary each day- it just depends on how long that day's deliveries take. He sees no problem with his wife or a babysitter taking care of our daughter during "his" time. I doubt he'd tell me the truth about how much time he really spends with her.
5. Lately, he's been pressuring our daughter to hug & kiss him hello & goodbye, and to say "I love you, Daddy" when he says "I love you" to her. And, has been complaining to me that she doesn't like him anymore. He imagines in his warped brain that I'm turning her against him, rather than his own neglectful parenting!! He says he wants her on his home turf so he can get her to love him again.
I agree that baby steps are important here. My oldest daughter's father hasn't seen her in 11 years and I've always thought about what I would do if he decided he wanted to see her again(though at this point, her opinion would be taken into acct in court thankfully). I would INSIST that my exhusband(who has raised her since she was 4 along with me) and I be present for visits and that they take place in my home once a week for a month at least. And after that, small outings to get ice cream or mini golfing or some other structured activity for an hour or so would be okay if she kept her phone with her so I could call. And then after 6 months of that if everything was going well, he could maybe have her for slightly longer unsupervised times. He's not a bad guy. But she doesn't know him. And he's shown absolutely no initiative to get to know her for 11 years(and honestly, the 2 years before that, his "initiative" was minimal at best). So he can work on MY terms and HER terms instead of his own. A dad who has shown no desire to see the child he knows about for multiple years and his paid no support for and had no contact with at all doesn't look like a stand-up guy in court, I assure you. So I wouldn't be afraid to take things slowly and push my "agenda" on him as long as it's reasonable. Getting to know a child slowly and in the child's own home with parents she's known her whole life is not unreasonable.
If I had to be completely honest iwth you though, I don't think you have much to worry about. My bet is that if you give him visits in your home and call him the daddy and make him feel special like he's a part of things, eventually in a few weeks/months he'll fade away again. He doesn't sound like he's going to worry about his daughter for very long and something more important will come up in his life or it will be too hard to visit and he'll disappear again. But if you make it too easy for him or refuse all together to provide visitation, he'll make your life difficult just because he can.