how to 'parent' with an unreliable dad and what to tell DC

(56 Posts)
losinmimarbles Mon 24-Mar-14 23:03:38

I've NC because I'm so embarrassed that I'm posting on mumsnet again about my ex.

Left abusive ex 2+ years ago and have one DD aged 3.
Since we broke up life has been pretty unstable, a series of moves across country as well as inconsistency with my ex being in DD's life.

However, cut very long story short, the past maybe 4 months or so seem to have been going pretty well, DD has been seeing her dad on a regular basis (in a contact centre, plus occasional other visits for birthday, xmas etc) and ex and I have been communicating well.

This bit may out me - DD wanted dad at her birthday party, a few close friends expressed their concern given the history between us but after much deliberation I decided as seeing as things were going well it would be a good way to draw a line and be united for DD on her special day.

A week after DD's birthday: Ex and I have a minor disagreement about a career idea that he has had (constantly changing jobs/ideas) . There is no contact from ex for a few days (he usually will text to see how DD is or ring/Skype her) . I finally talk to him and he tells me he has decided its for the best that we don't speak any more and he'll just see DD in his time and basically keep everything separate (including no phone calls to DD any more).

I am still in a state of shock that he has done this again. Everything had been going well and DD seemed so happy. Now I've had her crying asking to speak to him and she's been asking 'can daddy take me swimming' etc (he had mentioned he could do this soon). What do I say to her? I'm heartbroken for her and so angry that her own dad could hurt her like this.

I have tried absolutely everything to try and get along with my ex for DD. Done no contact (he usually then disappears/uses drugs/alcohol), tried to be his friend (ends up thinking we can get back together), worked well as a team but with boundaries i.e. sorting xmas and birthday, nativity play etc. But nothing works! He says it's best for DD but now her life is unstable once again.

How can I go on the next 15 years having to deal with this man and comfort DD when he lets her down time after time? I'm at the end of my tether.

Thank you for reading.

HudYerWeisht Tue 25-Mar-14 07:32:01

Sorry your going through this again.

It's so hard trying to create a stable atmosphere when one parent constantly moves the goalposts.

How often are his contact times? Is he still at a contact centre? Have you tried mediation?

Monetbyhimself Tue 25-Mar-14 07:40:14

I'm not actually sure why you would be having any discussions about his career thiugh, given the history ?

It's probably better that his inly focus is on DD and I would call his bluff and ask him what his proposals for contact are, emphasising that these need to be consistent and regular. If you don't get a positive response, then get your solicitor to draft a letter outlining some contact proposals.

It's incredibly hard but I find that thw easiest way to deal with my Ex is really NOT to deal with him. I have a Residency order and his contact is court ordered. If he messes up and lets them down it's hard but I focus on prividing a stable secure home for them to balance his behaviour.

Meglet Tue 25-Mar-14 07:51:11

Just stop contacting him, ever (unless the courts say you have to obviously).

I gave XP a few months to sort himself out and he kept blowing it, after a failed mediation session I drew a line under it.

These parents shouldn't allowed to be unreliable, the courts should crack down on them. It's not in the childs best interests to experience that sort of crap parenting. <Waits to be flamed for daring to suggest some kids are better off without waste of space NRP's>

losinmimarbles Tue 25-Mar-14 07:52:21

HI thank you for your replies, he currently sees her every other week for 2 hours in contact centre however we were in court in Feb and agreed to extending contact to weekly however he's not done anything to sort that out! Hence why hes told dd he will take her places and now she's gutted (contact was also meant to be moving to supervised in community).
He invited himself round to. mine as he had left some of his stuff here after dd birtday

HudYerWeisht Tue 25-Mar-14 07:54:08

Meglet you'll get no flaming from me. My DD is one of those kids who is one million times better off without her Dad in her life.

HudYerWeisht Tue 25-Mar-14 07:57:40

Just sick to the current contact that's in place now then. Don't be tempted to contact him either.

I know it's hard but it's up to him to arrange changes in contact not you.

Reassure your daughter as much as possible but truthfully you can't force someone to step up and it's a waste of time and pointless stress for you to try. Let him be responsible for his own parenting and see how it goes.

FrogbyAnotherName Tue 25-Mar-14 07:58:21

When you say he has said he'll see her in his own time - do you mean he's sticking to the contact schedule with no extras?

He may well have been advised to do exactly that though - you've tried being flexible and cooperative, but ended up rowing about his life choices (which are nothing to do with you) - so rather than expose your DD to conflict, he's sticking to a schedule of contact and not engaging with you.

If he means he'll turn up when it suits him - he's an arse.

HudYerWeisht Tue 25-Mar-14 08:00:04

May not be the case but if his 'life choices' mean an inability to pay CM then it has everything to do with OP Frog

losinmimarbles Tue 25-Mar-14 08:03:05

... Sorry posted early. He just told me about his career idea I didn't ask (he wants to be a social worker ffs !! - abusive man, personality disorder etc) so of course I was a little shocked but there was no shouting.
My solicitor has written him a letter saying its not necessary he contacts me however the change in routine has had a detrimental affect on dd and reminded him that court want us to communicate well without the need for rigid contact orders.
I can't ask him.what he proposes as he's ignoring me but suppose solicitor could do so if we don't get a reply. Thing is, he won't stick to it anyway.
Mediation not possible due to abuse but we r in family court at the mo. And last time we did discuss well between us how we wanted contact to progress.
He's taken me for a mug again, he seemed interested in being a proper dad and said after dd birthday how much he's been missing out and now this! What type of dad needs encouraging to see their own child? What type of dad can go weeks without wanting to know how their child is? I'm so depressed because of him and to see my dd upset is pushing me even further, what do I say to her when she asks about him?

HudYerWeisht Tue 25-Mar-14 08:23:48

I would doubt he would get a job in that sector if he has a history of abuse and a personality disorder.

Is he intending on going back into full time education then?

To be honest, I've given this advise last night about another subject but children don't need a huge amount of explanation at this age. Personally I would consider saying that whilst Daddy still loves her he is trying to sort out some adult things just now and he will still see her but it might not be as much as he used to at the moment. There isn't alot else you can tell a child that age.

Make sure she knows you love her. Take her swimming yourself, she shouldn't miss out because her Dad's playing stupid games. Try and do fun things during the time he would have been seeing DD so she doesn't feel like she is missing out.

Most importantly be there for her when she's upset. It's so difficult for a child and whilst it isn't fair you have to try and pick up the pieces as best you can.

I feel for you and I'm sure you're already doing the best you can for your DD. What a shame for her that her father is a dick.

losinmimarbles Tue 25-Mar-14 08:26:32

I also agree with pp that an unreliable dad is one not worth having , unfortunately my ex doesn't look like he's going to fully disappear he only does that for a few weeks at time then reappears saying he wants to be a dad again.didn't have a huge affect on dd but now she's older shes getting quite confused.

BertieBotts Tue 25-Mar-14 08:31:37

Even if it does affect CM unfortunately it's still not OP's business. I understand that you weren't sniffing around OP just surprised when he told you.

Can you text him and say DD is asking to phone and would that be OK/when is he free to talk to her? Say you'll be in another room if he wants.

losinmimarbles Tue 25-Mar-14 08:43:45

Bertie : I wouldnt feel comfortable texting him to say that really as my solicitor has already sent him a letter explaining dd has been upset, I suppose I am sick of chasing him to do things that for most parents are instinctive. sad

losinmimarbles Tue 25-Mar-14 08:47:11

Buyer: I think he said something about you can train on the job ( he's got a degree already) .--funny thing is he fits the bill perfectly as far as my experience with social workers go ;) --

woodrunner Tue 25-Mar-14 08:53:02

If he's a drug user, I think you can, while she's small, explain his erratic behaviour by saying: daddy can't always keep his promises because he gets ill in a way that makes his head get all muddled up and we never know when he might get ill again, so I'll take you swimming.

Sorry if this isn't helpful, it's the only thing I could think up that might not upset her. And btw you sound utterly brilliant and like a wonderful mum, so she's very lucky in one parent at least!

BertieBotts Tue 25-Mar-14 08:56:33

Oh, I suppose I was seeing it more as a one off as in "DD is asking to see you, when is convenient", not asking for a regular thing. But if he's already refused then he's already refused.

HudYerWeisht Tue 25-Mar-14 09:02:48

Personally I think it is a RPs business. I'm not saying they have a say in it but I think anything that has to do with the RP and their child is their business.

If it affects CM the RP would have to pick up the cost somewhere. That isn't easy for many who are already on a tight budget.

I am aware she can't do anything about it but they have a right to know and they have a right to say something about it too especially with something that has a direct effect on the RP and DC.

However the OP hasn't alluded to this being the case so it is a general argument for another thread probably.

losinmimarbles Tue 25-Mar-14 09:05:17

Woodrunner : thank you that's very kind of you. That sounds like a good idea for something to explain that she could comprehend. One thought is though, is it right to always excuse his behaviour? the truth is he's a selfish bastard and ultimately I wouldn't want my daughter to think this behaviour is acceptable for herself or for her to put up with with her relationship with her dad or future partners.

HudYerWeisht Tue 25-Mar-14 09:22:05

The behaviour isn't acceptable but you have to excuse it for now. You can't tell a young child the truth. They couldn't understand it fully and it would be heartbreaking for her.

Irrespective of your feelings your daughters have to come first, something which her Dad is clearly incapable of doing. You don't have to lie to your daughter but you don't have to tell her the entire truth either.

She will figure it out for herself when she is older. And once she is a lot older you will probably find she'll ask you outright. At that point you can be a bit more honest about the situation and the reasoning behind it.

HudYerWeisht Tue 25-Mar-14 09:24:58

FWIW If it wasn't for the fact you are in court and he will continue with contact (for the time being anyway) I would be suggesting you cut him off but you aren't in that position.

Sometimes it's a lot easier and a lot better for the kids to have one stable parent who loves them and looks after them and their best interests than one who does that and another who appears to fuck it up at every turn.

brdgrl Tue 25-Mar-14 09:30:03

Without commenting on the rest, obviously the ex is free to change careers or go back to an education or training course, without consulting the OP. If they'd stayed married, he'd also be free to do so, and the financial situation would change accordingly. Fortunes fluctuate. That is life.

One would hope that any parent would consider the effect on the child's well-being when changing career, as one factor when making such a decision - but that isn't always straightforward. Retraining or choosing a new career path can't be based solely on maintaining an established level of CM.

FrogbyAnotherName Tue 25-Mar-14 09:45:19

Have you both done the SPIP course?

It will help him understand why ignoring your comments about his life is best for your DD and help you understand why boundaries are important when it comes to dealing with him. Eventually you'll be able to smile inwardly and say nothing when he comes up with another hair brained scheme that has no hope of getting off the ground.

Can you mention the SPIP to CAFCASS/the contact centre workers as a possibility you'd like to consider?

HudYerWeisht Tue 25-Mar-14 09:53:11

Absolutely the NRP is free to but the RP has to know and will know. Of course they do, if the CM stops a reason would need to be given for this. And it would be helpful to know beforehand so they can try and figure out a way to tighten their belt if need be.

Personally I think it should be the main factor. Obviously if they had stayed married it would be a decision that was discussed and jointly agreed to once they had figured out if their finances could allow so that argument isn't really relevant here.

Does separation mean that it is morally right to do what right for yourself and forget about your existing financial responsibilities? You wouldn't be allowed to do that with credit card debt, or a mortgage so why when it comes to raising your children?

I don't see why a NRP thinks it acceptable to make a choice to change their finances that would mean that they cannot support their existing children? And will directly impact on the RP and the children.

I am fully in support of reduced maintenance if unforeseeable financial hardship comes about but not because you decide you fancy a change.

HudYerWeisht Tue 25-Mar-14 09:59:24

Sorry that should have read the financial aspect of raising your children

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