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Better to know a crap dad, or not know dad at all? All opinions welcome!

(36 Posts)
sillymillyb Tue 18-Feb-14 15:42:05

What is least damaging: for a child to know a crap dad, or not know their dad at all?

How crap is too crap?

Should I continue to help dad be less crap (send prepaid envelopes with postcards / stickers / photos etc for him to post between visits amongst other stuff) or will that be making it harder for my child should he disappear? (Feel Like I'm potentially setting ds up for a fall)

Have deliberately put this in chat as apposed to lone parents so get a more varied set of opinions.

Help me figure out the right course of action please! Thank you thanks

RunRabbit Tue 18-Feb-14 15:46:20

It might be nice for the child when they're young but as they get older they're going to realise they have a crap dad. And in IMO your 'help' is unsustainable. How long do you plan on picking up the slack for him?

sillymillyb Tue 18-Feb-14 15:50:52

That's what I'm trying to figure out - I feel a bit like I could coach their relationship along, but there comes a point where he has to do it alone or walk away. I'm just not sure at what point I let him do that, because if he walks away now ds won't remember him.... And is that better or worse?

notanotherusername1 Tue 18-Feb-14 15:56:19

In my situation the crap dad has caused the most upset and hurt. My friends situation was no dad (he was crap) meant her dc has kind of come out the other end without the memories my DS has, not good memories. Being forever forgotten about, cancelled meetings, months going by with no contact, forgotten birthdays, other children being put first, no interest in schooling, no idea of likes and dislikes........I could go on.

My friends dd although no dad has been in her life does not have all that to look back on. Ok no dad is not good it has to be better than heaps of bad memories and rejection over and over again.

If I had my time again things would have been very different.

Meglet Tue 18-Feb-14 15:57:56

If you 'coach' him as a dad then eventually it will just set your DC up for a fall. It's up to him to do it.

I let abusive, and frankly shit, XP go when the dc's were very young (3 & 1). I did attempt to facilitate contact for the first few months after we split (inc mediation and contact centre) but he didn't want to. My gut instinct is that the kids (now 7 + 5) are better off than if he was still around being half-arsed and letting them down. As sad as it is they don't know any different, life is stable.

sillymillyb Tue 18-Feb-14 16:03:41

Thank you so much for your responses.

This feels like I'm between a rock and hard place because there just isn't a perfect solution, bar him changing.

He currently visits once a month, but won't be alone with ds, I rarely hear from him between times. I used to send regular text updates saying what ds had been up to, but used to get the same response of "happy days" regardless of what I said (so in reply to text sent saying ds had been in hospital for example)

When he is here he will "perform" and play with ds so long as there are people there with him, but will ignore him completely if he doesn't think he is being watched.

I don't want ds to realise his dad isn't interested in him, but I also don't want him not to know his dad.

Thank you again for replying, it's actually really helpful to hear about other people's experiences as I'm totally lost as to what to do for the best.

Anonymai Tue 18-Feb-14 16:03:51

I think better to have no dad than a crap one. That's the choice I've made for my dc anyway. I don't want some loser ruining her self esteem or happiness by dicking her around. He made no effort at all so I've removed us from the equation before she's old enough to realise he doesn't give a shit.

RunRabbit Tue 18-Feb-14 16:07:57

I would say it's better he walks away when your son is young.

I never knew my father, he left before I was born. Growing up I did fantasise of the happy family and the 'what ifs' had be been around.

My mum was around but she was crap and I was passed around various family members. Even though she was around and in my life, I feel a lot more resentment and anger towards her than my father. I feel rejected by her not him. Because with her, I lived through the rejection. Every time she she didn't get me a Birthday card or come to my party or come to my school plays, etc. it was a direct slap in my face.

Whereas with him - it was out of sight, out of mind. He was never there so I never expected anything from him.

Better to have no dad. But what I would advise, while DS is little, is a few more attempts and collecting evidence of the man's crapness. So that, if at some point in the future, he meets a woman he wants to impress with his fatherliness changes his mind, he won't be able to convince DS that the only reason he was absent was due to you being BitchWon'tLetMeSeeMyKid.

You could write to CrapDad and inform him that while you won't block a relationship between him and DS, you're not going to scurry round doing all the work. And save whatever reply you get.

NigellasDealer Tue 18-Feb-14 16:12:02

Being forever forgotten about, cancelled meetings, months going by with no contact, forgotten birthdays, other children being put first, no interest in schooling, no idea of likes and dislikes........I could go on
yes this is what my children have - better no dad imo

NigellasDealer Tue 18-Feb-14 16:13:00

oh yes and he does the 'bitch didnt let me see my kids' routine angry

Meglet Tue 18-Feb-14 16:15:36

yy to keeping some evidence of crapness. I've kept every e-mail.

DiaryOfAWimpyMum Tue 18-Feb-14 16:15:44

It does more damage when Dads come and go from their lives - children thrive on stability and if an ad hoc dad isn't providing that, better for the DC to go without imo

I had a similar situation and the DC have been more settled since their F stopped coming in and out of their lives

rabbitlady Tue 18-Feb-14 16:16:33

better to know a crap dad, then no illusions of a wonderful absent daddy can develop.
but be aware, knowing a crap dad still affects my 31 year old and she hasn't seen him for 10 years. put some counselling in place. it never occurred to me but it might have helped her.
don't help him be a better dad. support your dc when he lets them down.
i've seen on mn when mothers have bought birthday presents 'from daddy'. don't. just let it be how it is.

Anonymai Tue 18-Feb-14 16:20:56

Yes definitely keep evidence! I've kept texts, emails, notes about phone calls. That way history can't be rewritten.

DiaryOfAWimpyMum Tue 18-Feb-14 16:21:20

Another thing I would add is not to buy cards or gifts to send from him, just let him keep doing what he does.

sillymillyb Tue 18-Feb-14 16:21:22

Ahh yes, I am already a bitch who does not understand how hard it is for him.....

I've realised I've posted this at completely the wrong time as I have to go get ds and do dinner / bed etc now so can't reply properly. I promise ill come back later, as this is so helpful (and upsetting)

Someone mentioned self esteem, and that is one of my major concerns. I can't figure out how to protect my ds from it being battered either way. He is 2 at the moment, and I don't know how long to carry on flogging this for just in case his dad turns a corner.

Anyway, I have to go oR ill be so late, I'm so sorry. I will be back in a few hours! Thank you all, really, it's a lot to think about

sillymillyb Tue 18-Feb-14 16:22:50

Ah crossed posts with lots, ill be back! Thank you x

MisForMumNotMaid Tue 18-Feb-14 16:25:58

I built the crapness a pedestal. Don't do it. Just don't. It demoralised me and the kids where even more crushed as he inevitably fell.

Maybe don't tell DS about visits so if he doesn't show its not such an issue. Don't keep dad informed of things, let him ask. Accept maybe an annual update so you can always know and say to your DS/ yourself you tried and kept a line of communication open.

Keep records of access offered, not turning up etc just incase he ever decides he wants to play happy families on a whim.

OddFodd Tue 18-Feb-14 16:28:10

I'm another who's chosen no dad rather than crap dad. It's the getting hopes up and having them crushed which is soul-destroying IMO.

And if your child builds them up into a sort of uber-dad, you have the proof that you're sorry, that's just not true.

rabbitlady - surely your DD's experience shows that no dad is better than crap dad?

Better to have no dad than a crap dad imo, as crap half-arsed parenting can leave children with all sorts of long-standing issues around rejection, low self-esteem etc.

I do think it's important that children have positive adult role models, but that if a consistent, caring Dad isn't on offer then the next best thing is to have a consistent, caring uncle / friend of mum's etc who can show your children what a 'good man' looks and acts like.

ReadyToPopAndFresh Tue 18-Feb-14 16:59:26

NO dad is much better.

Dh's dad walked out when he was a baby. Does he care? No. No more than you might care that you didn't have 3 parents growing up. YOu only miss what you had in the first place.

For myself and friends who had to put up with crap dads through out child meant a constant circle of getting hopes up, then having them dashed again.

And then one day your kids are adults, and he won't make the effort and that will hurt more, he won't bother to come see his grandkids.. he won't give a fuck. You aren't making him. He will disappear.

NinjaCow Tue 18-Feb-14 17:15:35

No dad. I don't know my dad. My DSis1 and 2 both did, he went after DSis2 was born (my dad, a different one, also left, but before I was born) but kept infrequent contact. It was damaging- they didn't even want contact tbh, because it hurt knowing that he could be bothered to find their address but couldn't care enough to be involved. At least I had a clean break/cut iyswim, I could just get on in life without even thinking about not having a father, because it just didn't feature.

sillymillyb Tue 18-Feb-14 18:34:32

Just put ds down to sleep - Thank you all so much for your replies, it's given me a lot to think about.

I think the consensus is as I felt, which was that it's better for ds to not have contact with his dad, rather than sporadic contact where he grows to realise how low down in his priorities he is.

At the minute, he is visiting once a month pretty regularly. Rarely hear from him in between. He has a girlfriend he forgot to tell her he had a child and he has massively gone down hill since then. He is ALL about appearances though, so he won't disappear if he thinks people will judge him for it. He would happily not turn up if it was my fault (she stopped me seeing him, etc though)

I don't know how to best protect my son, and I honestly could kill his dad for not realising what an amazing child he has and what he is missing out on.

As for evidence, I'm not sure really how to go about collecting that. I think I'm going to jot down everything that has happened to date, and just add to it as and when. I don't know how to break contact or at what point though? Ds is 2 next month and I am anxious to limit any damage in any way I can.

As a plan going forward, does saying i will text him once a week with an update to his dad, plus offer that he can call at any time to find out what he's up to sound fair? Then I'm doing my bit but balls in his court?

Then if I don't chase contact as I have been, and just see if he keeps turning up sound ok? If ds is 2, how long can I let that play out before it will affect him?

Sorry if this is rambled, it's been going around in my head for such a long bloody time!

DiaryOfAWimpyMum Tue 18-Feb-14 18:47:52

That sounds fine, do you have to text him weekly?

I would let him initiate any contact and see how it goes.

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