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Seeking opinions on fathering technique..

  1. Chaotic Chica profile image86
    Chaotic Chicaposted 5 years ago

    My ex and I have been separated for over four years, divorced for three and in that time he has seen his children once {I spent my money to take the kids out to him and back with no repayment}.  His telephonic interaction with them has dwindled to less than a handful of calls last year and nothing for eight months, not even a .99 cent birthday card.
    He is on his fourth engagement and he spoke to his son once after which he promised a call back and all it's  been is text messages.  My boy is hurt that his father broke another promise but I refuse to play the messenger. And now he is texting me asking how they are and telling me to tell the kids he's thinking about them.
    He claims his phone is acting up but he's forever updating his FB status with it. 
    Am I wrong for not relaying the text messages or is he just being a jerk not reaching out to his children personally?  Before I fly off the handle at him for his 'idea' of caring I would like to know if I am just being biased.

  2. Cagsil profile image84
    Cagsilposted 5 years ago

    I say let his actions speak for him. Explain to the child that words are not the only course of action for learning about the father and that his actions should also be something to learn from.

    The other option is a much harsher tactic and that would be for sole custody without visitation, which would strip him from the child's life. If the child wants to, at a later time, get involved with him, then so be it.

    I know someone else who had this exact same problem. She too ended up with the harsher tactic, simply because she refused to put her children through anymore pain and suffering. It was explained to both of them that they could find him and do whatever it is that they wanted to, when the time was right.

    The primary reasoning she did it, was to keep the children more focused on their own life and their future(schooling). hmm

    That's about all I have on it. hmm

  3. Chaotic Chica profile image86
    Chaotic Chicaposted 5 years ago

    You are on the same page that I am.  For the first two years I did everything by the book, not wanting the children to grow up without their father just because we could not make it work.  The third year I gave up sugar coating and started explaining to the kids that I could not speak for their dad, he had to do that.  This past year I put into more blunt terms as the kids are old enough to get that actions speak louder than words.
    I have sole physical custody with visitation rights but he has not acted upon them.  I have remarried and my husband wants to adopt, the three younger children have begun calling him 'dad' after two years of being their step father.  The issue is legalities.  He will not consent to relinquishing his parental rights just because he can. 

    For the briefest of moments I thought that he might have had a wake up call resulting from the Joplin tornado.  We lived out there and went to Joplin frequently. He helped with the clean up and discovered the body of a child our older daughter's age and that garnished the first phone call in eight months.  Then he resorted to texting.  I am so tired of trying to give him the benefit of the doubt.

  4. Tom Koecke profile image61
    Tom Koeckeposted 5 years ago

    I don't think it's unreasonable to not pass text messages on for him. It keeps you as the intermediary, which is a trap.

    My children were young when my ex and I split up, but I was the custodial parent. There was a period of time that I was the only one telling them that their mom loves them. Finally, I told my ex that she either needed to stay in touch better, or they would grow up not knowing her. It worked to some degree.

    My children are grown now. They are involved with their mother, but her relationship with them is not as strong as my relationship with them.

    My daughter and her baby-daddy don't get along. His lifestyle is such that my granddaughter is not allowed unsupervised visits with him. I am now the go-between for them. My granddaughter loves her dad, but he often has other things going on when I would be able to take her to him. I just tell her the truth. It hurts her, but I think it is better that she be hurt by the truth than to be hurt by lies.

    I am the man my granddaughter can rely upon. I didn't sign up for it, but she means the world to me. A little sacrifice on my part earns me the reward that I am the one she wants to call first when she lost her tooth!

    I do not know enough about your situation to tell you what is right and what is wrong. If your son is old enough to read, perhaps he can text him back. It might change your ex's behavior if your son called him. It may just be best to text your ex to let him know if he has any messages to convey to his children that he do it himself.

    I don't believe much in yelling and screaming to make a point (if that is what you meant about "flying off the handle"). Whatever you do, I think it is best to consider the children's interests primarily, and to do it from an adult perspective (as opposed to child - I want- or parent - you better - perspectives).

    1. Chaotic Chica profile image86
      Chaotic Chicaposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      Tom, thank you for taking the time to share your experience with me.  You speak wisely and make sense.  I thought, too, that the children calling him everytime they wanted to speak to him might make him realize how much he was wanted by them.  He made excuses to get off the phone and failed to call them back when he promised.  I stopped letting them call.  When they asked why I explained that it was his turn to call them and I was not going to make them be responsible for his actions.

      1. Tom Koecke profile image61
        Tom Koeckeposted 5 years ago in reply to this

        You don't need to answer this question to me, but rather to ponder it for yourself: do the children feel that you not allowing them to call him is your action or his action?

        In my case, our oldest child resented her mother leaving. She would talk to her, but she wouldn't call her very often. Our youngest child was hurt by her leaving. She would call her, but was often disappointed after talking to her.

        It was difficult to watch my children deal with the situation, but I was there for them to discuss their feelings.

        Today, at 27 and 24, both daughters will talk to their mother, but they don't want to ask her opinion about how to deal with problems or their feelings. If they go to a parent in those situations, it is me they go to. They know who was always in their corners. They know whose opinion they respect when it comes to dealing with problems, and who will not judge their feelings as right or wrong.

        My concern for you not allowing them to call him is that they may look at it as you interfering in them not having a healthy relationship with him. If you allow them to call, they may realize that it is he who is responsible for them not having a healthy relationship with him.

        This is only something to think about. Sometimes it is better to deal with a skinned knee than it is to not let them play. The skinned knee will heal. Feelings sometimes don't.

        1. Chaotic Chica profile image86
          Chaotic Chicaposted 5 years ago in reply to this

          That is a valid point.  My decision to not allow them to call was not an overnight one.  It happened over time, starting with if he doesn't call by x time, you can try calling back.  Eventually they started to stop asking.  Every so often the younger boy will ask again but if I don't answer first, his older brother is quick to ask him when the last time their father called them.  This year my younger boy had to face that everyone else sent him a birthday card and/or gift but not his dad.  He was the last of the kids to start calling their step-dad  dad.  We told them when we got married they could call him dad if they wanted to but only if they wanted to, otherwise his name is Brian.  The youngest started calling him daddy before the wedding, my older daughter was next starting a few months ago {two years into our relationship} and now the younger boy.  The only reason my oldest boy doesn't call him dad is because he was my first child and I left his father before birth when I found he got another woman pregnant three months after me.  Either way his father is in his life and is good to him.

          1. Tom Koecke profile image61
            Tom Koeckeposted 5 years ago in reply to this

            Wow. The feeling of abandonment your second son must be feeling has to be weighing heavily on his mind. Part of it has to be watching his older brother continuing to have a relationship with his father while he is being relegated to historical irrelevance by his.

            Let me suggest this: your second child's father is behaving like a child, which is characterized by "I want" and "I don't want." The natural reaction to dealing with a child is to become a parent, which is characterized by "you better" or "you ought to." It takes principles to remain in the adult mode when dealing with this, both with your ex and your child. Adults converse without criticism.

            I suspect your ex is awaiting you to "fly off the handle" so that he can excuse himself from fault by passing it onto you. A simple, "no, I will not pass your messages onto the children" is better than "if you have something to say to them you should say it yourself." It is a statement of fact rather than a criticism.

            You might be able to draw out some of your son's feelings using active listening techniques. These are non-critical statements such as "you are upset that your father has not called you" used to draw out true feelings and inspire conversation. You may find that your child is more upset about not being able to call his father, or that he is jealous that his older brother has a relationship with his father.

            There are no easy ways to parent. Each child is different, and so are each person's feelings. It sounds as if Brian is an outstanding man who may be able to replace daddy for two of the three children. The third may just take time and some additional effort.

            It only takes sperm production to be a father. It takes love, caring, and nurturing to be a daddy.

            Good luck to you, Chica. My thoughts are with you.