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TILA_ABs_NoMore's avatar

Am I being fair in not letting my children have a relationship with their deadbeat father?

Asked by TILA_ABs_NoMore (895points) February 22nd, 2010

My boys don’t know their bio-dad (The last time my 4 yr old saw him he called him “That Man”. Ive tried in the past to let him into their lives but everytime he will see them once or twice and then disappear for several months when he gets back with his girlfriend (according to him his GF will not let him see them!! lol ) They already know someone else as “dad” and I dont want them confused or hurt. Him and his girlfriend broke up again and he contacted me wanting to see them after almost a year. I told him I would think about it. Im not being malicious in not wanting him to see them. If he were a responsible man that truly loved his children I would be more than happy to have him be a part of their lives. What is the right path to take?!?

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32 Answers

missingbite's avatar

First off, good luck. Second, it may well be his GF not wanting him to see his kids but that is not an excuse. He should tell her to pound sand. Third, he may grow up one day and really want to be in the kids lives. It will be your job to determine if he is really ready to be that person. A simple break up with his GF probably won’t cut it. Again, good luck.

Seek's avatar

Several responses jump into my mind.

The first is – I’ve been actively looking for my father for almost ten years, because when I was twelve, my mother made me break off contact with him. Having exhausted all other options, I now check the national obituary database at least once a month. If I find his name someday, maybe I’ll have closure. Though, I know that probably won’t happen, because he doesn’t have a driver’s license, and there’s a good chance that if he does die, he’ll be John Doe #209501297601967 and that’ll be it. I hate my mother for putting me in this situation.

The second is: What does the judge say? There’s usually one involved in these situations.

softtop67's avatar

While I can certainly understand your reluctance, I believe it would be in your and the childrens best interest that you do not put up barriers to this relationship. You can have conversations with your children or possibly engage some professional help to help them understand what is going on. No good can come with you taking such a hard stance and could create animosity between yourself and the children you are trying to protect. It is also a legal nightmare for you to refuse a biological father vistation rights if he wishes to persue your actions legally.

stump's avatar

I would allow contact occasionally, but only with you there. And if he is that undependable, I would always have a backup plan, so the kids don’t feel cheated if he doesn’t show up. If the kids have a “Dad” that supports them emotionally, then the danger is small that their bio-dad will damage their self esteem. Someday the bio-dad may grow up and be a positive in their lives, and the kids could conceivably resent you if you don’t keep the door open for them to have a relationship with him.

Trillian's avatar

This is a tough call. Maybe you could have some sort of supervised visits for an hour or so. That way he can remain somewhat connected, but not have the opportunity to do anything detrimental to their mental health. You could set up some ground rules first about what they should call him, or letting him know that they call another man Dad. Anything that you do now, the kids will remember later. I’d suggest that you try to be the rational one. Good luck with this.

MrItty's avatar

If they already have a father figure in their life, they have no need for their biological father. Especially if he is a deadbeat.

My parents divorced when I was two. My biological father was so much of a drunk he didn’t even bother showing up to the custody hearing. He was awarded no visitation rights as a result. My mother, being a good person, however, let him see me every week or two. When she got engaged when I was 5, it was decided my step-father-to-be would legally adopt me. The visits with my biological father stopped. I never knew him growing up, and never had a desire to. Ever. My step-father has been “Dad” since they day he married my mother.

If I hadn’t had a father figure, maybe I’d’ve felt differently about wanting to know my biological father. I’ll never know for certain. But I had a good childhood, and was raised by two loving, authoritative parents. I missed out on nothing.

poisonedantidote's avatar

its a tough one, i think as long as they know by the time they are adults that ’‘that man’’ is their biological father it will all be ok.

i do think they have a right to know the truth, but depending on ages and what not, its maybe best they dont know at this very moment.

JLeslie's avatar

My gut feeling is let them have contact. I would say he can visit them, but not take them away for fun time with bio-dad. He can visit in your home, or meet you somewhere. This guy sounds totally unreliable, and until the kids are old enough to say, “screw you dad, I’m calling mom” when he is being an asshole. I don’t blame you for wanting to protect them. But, I do think your children have the right to know their dad, or at least know how to contact him.

JLeslie's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Have you seen that show The Locator? Have you tried to enlist someone’s help who is a professional at locating people? I have only seen the show three times and I wind up crying like a baby.

@TILA_ABs_NoMore I was just thinking…my sister often teases me that my father is not my father. I was an artificial insemenation baby, and my sister says I was probably the doctors kid. She once asked if I would care, and I wouldn’t. But, now that I think about your question, and having seen that show The Locator, I think if my parents had purposely kept the truth from me it would bother me. If they new the sperm had not been my fathers, and tried to conceal it. That change in the dynamic would change how I think about it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

This is a difficult situation – I have encouraged my oldest’s bio-dad (even though I do find him irresponsible and not very bright) to be in my son’s life but I can’t force him to come often enough or even spend any quality time…it’s a struggle to convince him to even want to, to see that he’s certainly not fathering…and my kids do have a father, but I hesitate to cut out the oldest’s bio-dad because from the perspective of my child (and that is the perspective I care more about than my own) it is beneficial.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Your kids’ future relationships will be largely influenced by their relationship with their parents. If they grow up hearing you tell them what an awful man he is, that could have some very adverse effects later. Don’t let your bad relationship with their father lead them to think that’s what grown up relationships are supposed to be like.

If he’s dangerous for your kids to be around because he’s an addict, a criminal, or an abuser thn yes, keep them far away.

It sounds like Dad is a colossal schmuck.

Buttonstc's avatar

Right now your kids seem to be too young to be cognizant of all the underlying dynamics here so your best judgement should prevail.

But as Simone has pointed out, you should take your lead from their wishes.

Arbitrarily keeping your ex from contact with them on a continual basis could possibly come back to bite you in the butt later on if they resent you for it when they are older.

Be as honest as you possibly can in an age-appropriate way always. Seeking out some professional guidance when needed may also be helpful to you as things develop and change.

My Mother chose to lie to me all during my childhood, telling me he had died. Then when I was 13, and she was in a drunken episode of remorse she told me the truth. Big mistake.

I did eventually meet him when I was in college and he was a cowardly idiot so it’s not as if I missed out on a lot, but the entire way it was handled was ridiculous.

Most kids have a natural want to see their biological parent, regardless of how unworthy that parent may be. The most important thing to consider in all this is what your children want. They may have different attitudes about how much connection they have with their bio father. But the key is to have as much honest and open communication with them about it all through their lives.

In the short term it may seem easier to forbid him contact with them, but if you choose to “disappear him” from their lives altogether that will create a multitude of problems long term.

It’s more difficult on you to keep adjusting to his varying desire to see them or not but the primary consideration should be what serves their needs. They will get older and more aware as time goes on. Try to keep their connection to bio dad available to them for THEIR sake.

Val123's avatar

It’s tough. If a person is going to just jump in and out of their lives sporadically, it’s better for them to just stay away, period… does he treat them when they’re together?

TILA_ABs_NoMore's avatar

@Val123 Like he’s a candidate for the Father Of The Year Award!!! It makes me sick :-/

Val123's avatar

@TILA_ABs_NoMore Ah crap! I hate that shite. But….so he IS good to them?

TILA_ABs_NoMore's avatar

@Val123 He is…but Im there supervising and it’s only once or twice a year for an hour or two at McDonalds or something. Its just hard to feel that he’s being genuine

gemiwing's avatar

It’s tough because they’re so young. There’s potential pitfalls no matter what you choose.

Do the children want to see him? Do they care? If not, then just keep tabs on the ‘father’ in case the children want to see him someday and let it go at that.

I believe in a father’s rights to see his children- yet I believe that right comes with responsibility and if someone isn’t keeping up their end they don’t get the benefits. Seeing a child once a year whenever he feels like it doesn’t seem like it would add anything positive for the kids.

If the kids want to see him then I would go with them and call it a day.

Val123's avatar

@TILA_ABs_NoMore He can’t be genuine! I couldn’t live without seeing my kids all the time!
What do your kids want to do?

semblance's avatar

I gather that your children are of rather tender years right now.

Let’s assume that you keep him out of their lives for a number of years. Eventually, they will grow old enough to not only be curious about their biological father, but competent enough to seek him out. Then he will say, “I wanted to be part of your lives, but your mother would not let me.” They will ask you, “Is this true?” Although you will have explanations for why, they will mostly hear the first part of the answer, which will have to be, “Yes.” In that more than likely scenario, you come out the loser, possibly in a very big way.

I do not envy your position. I can see your concerns about the guy not being genuine or reliable. However, unless he really presents an outright risk to your children – and I am not getting that from your post – you are running a big risk by excluding him from them and vice versa.

dpworkin's avatar

He has legal, moral and ethical rights to visit with his children, no matter what you think of him, and your job as a loving mother is to make visitation possible, and to refrain from saying negative things about this asshole to the children.

The reason you should obey these regulations is that it is healthier for your children if you do. Let them draw their own conclusions, but don’t be responsible for keeping him away from them, or the kids will learn to resent you, instead of learning that their father is a bum.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

I would set up a regular visit, like “First Saturday” and stick to it. If he misses, he waits until the following month. Your children will appreciate that you made the effort when they’re older. Stay neutral about being judgmental about him to your children. You could have your children call him by his first name; doesn’t sound like “Dad” really fits him.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

You might want to make sure that you have the legal end of things buttoned up. Otherwise, if anything happens to you, he could end up with your children.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@PandoraBoxx damn fucking straight..biggest nightmare and fear of my life

Judi's avatar

The part time relationship is more trauma for you than for the kids. It’s all they know. If you don’t make a big deal out of it they won’t.
On rhe other hand, if you don’t allow him to see them then YOU wl be the bad guy and they will resent you when they are older.
Better for him to be the one who never reached out than for you to be the mean mom who didn’t allow them to see their father.

thriftymaid's avatar

Your children deserve the opportunity to know their dad and maybe love the part of him that is lovable. I understand your predicament. If they are old enough to be able to understand that he cares about them but that he is irresponsible and not to be depended upon, seeing him from time to time may be good. But if you know he will disappoint them over and over by not following through on promises, I would protect them from that.

MrItty's avatar

@dpworkin He’s given up his ethical and moral rights a long time ago, by not being involved in their lives from the start. And he only has legal rights to visit them if a court rules that he does.

Val123's avatar

I seriously have to agree with everyone that you need to get the legalities of everything down, now, while you still have the upper hand. He may have “given up his ethical and moral rights a long time ago” but you never know what crap can happen in a court room that has nothing to do with ethics and morality. The horror stories I could tell you…..

TILA_ABs_NoMore's avatar

Thank you everyone for your responses. They helped alot :-) I’ve decided that I will let him see them, as long as it’s supervised by either me or his parents, and that they call him by his first name. They already have a dad (to me a DAD is someone who earns the title, blood or not) and they dont know him (They’re 2 and 4 btw). Besides, I know the situation is only temporary…until he decides to disappear again. Thanks again everyone! :)

JLeslie's avatar

@TILA_ABs_NoMore In my opinion what is most comforting is seemingly they have a responsible man in their lives who they call dad. Their bio dad will probably dissappoint them and affect them somewhat, either by not showing up when promised, or losing contact at times (unless he changes, which would be great) but your children having a dad who is a good dad (their step-dad) will make all the difference I think. It will be a huge buffer to the possible negative affects caused by their bio dad.

Lastly, most people will say you should not talk badly about their bio dad, and I agree with that up to a point. I don’t think there is anything wrong, if he winds up dissappointing your children, in saying that it is better not to have high expectations regarding him. That it is part of the reason you and he are not together (if that is the case, I am obviously assuming a lot here). Because I think kids need to know that their parents are not only assholes when it comes to them, that it is not personal or something about them, that it is a flaw in that adults personality. I would emphasize that their father loves them, because I have a hard time thinking any parent does not love their child, unless there are serious mental issues.

MrItty's avatar

@TILA_ABs_NoMore good for you. And I am in complete agreement with your definition of “Dad”. That guy whose genes I carry may be my father, but the man who married my mother when I was 5 and raised me my entire life is my Dad. Always has been, always will be.

Judi's avatar

Personally, I wouldn’t fight over what they call him either. Like I said before, YOU are the one who has defined, “dad” but they don’t really know any different.
If he disappoints them, @JLeslie is right. Be honest, but only if you can possibly be objective and keep your emotions out of it. “I’m sorry your father disappointed you. It has nothing to do with you., It’s a problem he has dealt with since I have know him. I hope some day he figures it out, but for now he doesn’t understand how what he’s doing makes you feel. I know he loves you, he just has problems.”
Once you start playing dictator you open YOURSELF up to being the bad guy when they become teenagers. It is best to try to separate your issues with the bum from their relationship with the children. Not for his sake but for the kids sake.
My daughter never really knew her father, by his choice. I made an effort to never present him in a bad light to her. When she finally reached out to him as a teenager she appreciated that I allowed her to discover his character for herself instead of having me tell her what a self centered jerk he was.
The reason I chose to not tell her my negative feelings towards the guy was because regardless, she shares DNA with the guy. He is a part of her and I believed that it could negatively impact her self esteem to think of herself as the bastard child of a no good bum.

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