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to be confused by Ex's attitude towards DS. Need opinions from someone on the outside??

(66 Posts)
TheOrchardKeeper Fri 21-Mar-14 15:11:27

To cut a very long story short:

Fell pregant with DS a month into the relationship. It was a shitstorm so we ended it. He asked me to have an abortion frequently after that until I reached 24 weeks. Barely saw him as a baby and started building up contact through the second year and now DS is three. (a lot of work on my part but they started bonding gradually. However I've always made it clear that he could walk away and shut the door if he'd rather, as a dad who doesn't care is no good for DS anyway but it seems to have all gotten much better and he's been havign him overnight once a fortnight for 2 weeks).

His dad died when DS was a year, so I always try to factor in the fact that grief is a horrific thing and it was very unexpected. He feels like he has to live with his mum now his dad is gone which is fine if that works for them.

But his mum recently decided to move 250 miles away for cheaper housing and to leave the town (memories etc). He went with her and now contact has all gone crap.

He's called to say he's very stressed with driving so far for visits/returns (I don't drive but the family knew this upon moving) and can't see/have DS for the forseeable future but will try and continue payments.

I never know what to think because the whole 4 years (pregnancy included) it's been saying one thing (I love him, I want contact) and doing another (missing visits, dropping him off early because DS has been stressing him out and just saying how stressfull DS is etc --well yes he's a toddler, no shit, plus I have him 90% of the time so I bloody know--).

I'm being a bitch, aren't I?

I'm just so fed up of always being the understanding one who leaves the door open no matter what. I feel bad because I do empathise with him. I can't imagine that sort of grief but why did they move so far away (his mum seems to love seeing DS) and why have a half in half our approach? If you don't want to move nearer and can't handle visits but don't want to cut contact then what are you actually doing? Is it a breakdown? confused

(Also dealing with a whole heap of shit at our end atm which might be making me a grumpy bitch, though I'm trying my hardest to compartmentalize it)!

Scuse the essay blush

TheOrchardKeeper Fri 21-Mar-14 15:16:35

Reading that back I sound like a bitch...

It's just hard to know where he stands as he's let DS down so many times in the past and this move + latest statement just feels like the ultimate no-can-do.

That's fine if that's what it is, but it's all wishy washy and I just don't quite under-bloody-stand hmm

(I asked if he was feeling depressed etc and we're fairly civil now and I've been there done that and did wonder if he was struggling but he says he's not. Might be a front though).

Ronmione Fri 21-Mar-14 15:18:08

I think his actions speech louder than words here, and the effect his actions have on your ds are the important thing.

I would stop trying to second guess how he is feeling and why he might be acting in a certain way.

I would stop contacting him and let him make the effort.

Ronmione Fri 21-Mar-14 15:19:31

Know you don't sound like a bitch.

Ronmione Fri 21-Mar-14 15:21:53

The fact that he's let ds down before suggests that he isn't interested in having a relationship rather than his absence being part of his grief for the death of his father.

The flakiness was already there

TheOrchardKeeper Fri 21-Mar-14 15:22:16

I stopped arranging everything when DS turned 2. I did end up saying to him 'we agree to a regular thing and you start spending time with DS out of my house it's so uncomfortable or contact can just stop' and he then arranged the fortnightly thing.

I'm not bitter and have been fine about going it alone from day 1 but I have always had a nagging feeling that no matter what he says, his heart just isn't in it but he feels guilty so contact is mostly driven by guilt blush

I'd never say that in rl of course. It's just my gut feeling and has been since he was born.

Ronmione Fri 21-Mar-14 15:22:49

*no rather than know [ blush]

TheOrchardKeeper Fri 21-Mar-14 15:23:46

Oh god yes, the worst of it all happened before his dad died.

Had plenty of lovely 'hope you miscarry' texts pre DS.

He missed DS's 3rd birthday party last month so that's now 3 he's never been to because he had a 'cold' like all the kids that still showed up hmm

TheOrchardKeeper Fri 21-Mar-14 15:24:28

^ And he cancelled on the day of the party. If DS had been a year older or so he'd have known his dad just CBA...

TheOrchardKeeper Fri 21-Mar-14 15:25:22

^ he has improved and grown up a lot and does pay towards DS before I paint him in an awful light! It's just still pretty 'wtf'? generally hmm

LadyMaryLikesCake Fri 21-Mar-14 15:27:35

You don't sound like a bitch at all. You know the saying 'you can take a horse to water but you can't make it drink'? It's like that. If he was bothered he'd make an effort. This isn't about you or what you should have done, it's about him. Just be there for your son and tell him he's loved and wanted, even if his daddy isn't around.

Dahlen Fri 21-Mar-14 15:29:17

I think he's very typical of a feckless non-resident parent.

The truth is probably that he loves his DS in his own fashion but that DS is simply not a priority for him the way DS is for you. It is probably the case that his level of emotional involvement - his version of love - is more superficial than yours.

You can run yourself ragged trying to facilitate the relationship, you can decide to manage your DS's expectations of his father (i.e. not very high) and continue to allow their relationship while not actively facilitating it yourself, or you can put a stop to it. There are pros and cons of all three approaches.

FWIW, I would probably issue an ultimatum and stop contact if I didn't get what I want. Increasing numbers of studies demonstrate that inconsistent contact can do more damage than a totally absent parent. I would negotiate suitable contact arrangements, give your X a finite timescale to get himself sorted out and then stick to my decision after that time. If your X actually had the gumption to go to court and fight for contact you'd have your proof that he cared enough to make the effort. But my guess is that your ultimatum would be used by him as the excuse he needs to drop contact but make you out to be the evil X who won't let him see his son (rather than admit that he picked up and dropped his son as the mood took him and that all you tried to do was arrange a set schedule).

Sorry you're going through this. Feckless parents suck.

TheOrchardKeeper Fri 21-Mar-14 15:32:09

He's luckily very secure smile

We're well 'bonded' if that makes sense and I have a great DP who treats him very well and is a decent role model (well obviously or I wouldn't be with him but YKWIM).

It's just sad really. The most infuriating thing is that he's never seemed fully 'into' DS but then would never just say 'no, not for me' even though the door is open.

But life is gritty I suppose and I chose to keep DS knowing we wouldn't stay together so I can't get that angry about it really. Just feels like a headfuck sometimes.

TheOrchardKeeper Fri 21-Mar-14 15:35:23

inconsistent contact can do more damage than a totally absent parent - I know this first hand sad grin

I grew up without a dad. That was fine, you can't miss what you never had. But as a teenager, the amount of shitty parent-child relationships that my friends had with the NRP was crazy. I know it might not affect DS that much, but then it might, and I want to shield him from that if I can...and yet you can't reasonably cut contact really, unless they've been grade A awful.

MollyHooper Fri 21-Mar-14 15:39:35

I cannot read anything that would make you sound like a bitch, you are in fact the opposite.

I would just leave him to it. If he contacts you about DS well being respond but make it clear that unless he is willing to be a consistent part of your son's life then he won't be in it.

Your priority is your DS's feelings and feckless people like this only hurt and let children down.

MollyHooper Fri 21-Mar-14 15:41:51

I believe that deciding to stop seeing your child because driving is an inconvenience is grade A awful.

Especially as he chose to move away, he only thinks of himself.

LadyMaryLikesCake Fri 21-Mar-14 15:43:10

Ds's father was very inconsistent. He moved away when ds was 3, didn't see ds until he was 6 then it was for an hour every 18 months after he'd seen all of his family and friends (and he was usually hungover). I'd try to encourage some sort of contact between them, an email once a week, a phone call or a letter. His father would do this for a couple of weeks then would stop bothering. I honestly wish I hadn't have bothered as it took a hell of a long time to make ds feel secure. Ds was always a mum's boy (still is) and his dad never understood why this was so (it's not rocket science. If you don't bother with a child they get closer to the person who cares for them).

Inconsistent parenting really is worse than one who doesn't bother. It gets a child's hopes up so it can be a real rollercoaster for them, resulting in issues with self esteem and attachment.

TheOrchardKeeper Fri 21-Mar-14 15:45:01

I know hmm

I'm not a very angry person usually but I am literally raging inside.

And to then ring me up and tell me how hard DS is and how hard the drive is (insulting doesn't cover it and yes, kids are bloody hard but you're not the single parent so think before you speak, you twit). Also, if you dislike him so much then could you please just piss off? confused

I don't want him having a dad he thinks doesn't like him shock

LadyMaryLikesCake Fri 21-Mar-14 15:47:23

Your ex is a tosser and it will bite him on the bum eventually.

TheOrchardKeeper Fri 21-Mar-14 15:47:30

He did say that driving so far made him a little anxious and stressed etc. But they/he chose to move. I really just don't get it completely. They (he and his mum) say how wonderful DS can be then move miles away when they don't have to. It's a 3hr drive one way confused

I secretly hope that me going NC will make him slink off.

LadyMaryLikesCake Fri 21-Mar-14 15:52:45

Mine moved to Ireland hmm He's pissed as I won't allow ds to go and see him for a week - I'd rather spend my child to spend a week with the bloke on the checkout at Sainsburys (he sees more of ds than his dad), I wouldn't though.

It sounds like he'll slink off. He should still pay maintenance for his son though. Why move so far away if driving makes you anxious and stressed? There's always the train or the coach, distance shouldn't be a barrier.

MollyHooper Fri 21-Mar-14 15:54:02

You should rage! Your first posts came across as very guilty and I'm wondering has he been making you feel like that?

He sounds very self pitying.

TheOrchardKeeper Fri 21-Mar-14 15:55:15

He hasn't seen him since the 1st and won't see him til the 12th at the earliest now apparantly. That's just crap isn't it? I love a break sometimes but a fortnight would be pushing it for me and I'd really miss DS.

In that amount of time DS has had a clubfoot relapse issue (he was born with severe clubfoot) and chicken pox and his dad hasn't the faintest i'm not his pa

It just all seems a bit wrong.

Scuse my venting. I'm super polite in rl most of the time to save aggro and because no one that close has died on me yet so I worry about misjudging what might be related to grief etc.

MollyHooper Fri 21-Mar-14 15:56:59

Anxious and stressed, eh? And how does not seeing his little boy make him feel?

Even the thought of not seeing my two boys for 'the foreseeable future' makes me feel nauseous.

He's a loser.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Fri 21-Mar-14 15:57:49

You have done your best to facilitate contact, that's all you can do.

After DS hit two your ex stopped resenting his existence and acknowledged him. You must have wondered if he'd turned a corner. By the sound of it he is now struggling to cope with his mother's wish to move away. As Dahlen said he loves his DS in his own fashion. He may want to stay close to DS but not know how to balance that with his instinct to look after his surviving parent.

Whatever he decides to do however infuriating it's his decision. If he doesn't stay in touch you can always tell your DS in future that when his dad was living nearby he did get to see him a lot but dad had to move far away. Having one totally committed, loving parent is a blessing, having DP as a second good role model is a real bonus.

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