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How to tell the children that their dad won't come and see them even though he promised...

(7 Posts)
growingroots Wed 23-Jan-13 13:16:35

I have two young children (preschool and infant school). Their dad has major issues (drinking, mental health). We are in the middle of divorce. He moved a long way away from us to live with his parents, then we moved because I needed support and could not afford to stay, so we don't live close to him. He is totally unreliable. He has had several jobs this year, and is getting into a habit of being fired during the probationary period. He saw the children in August, then not until after xmas when his dad organised a three night visit. During that visit he promised the children the world, and hugely bigged up his own upcoming birthday and a big celebratory party (probably imaginary) and really excited them. I have been trying to get him to firm up dates over half term (and party) and finally he has admitted he had no intention of taking time off work to see his children. Ergo fabbio birthday bash for a 30 something year old, with promised children's games, party bags, balloons and family, gone in a whisp of a breeze and they are not even going to see him for some unknown period.

This is becoming habitual. But he can talk the talk and promises so much, and they are young and believe he walks on water. I have tried firmly asking him not to involve the children, as this keeps happening, but he "can't help himself he is so excited to see their happy faces when he talks about a visit". Basically he ignores me, I no longer count as a valid person to be listened to or respected (tbh no one does, part of his MH issues).

Now my question is. What do I tell the kids? Do I skirt around it and tell them he is busy (lies) and distract them, do I try and be more honest? I feel like I have to pick up the debris from his mess and have no idea what is the best way to keep the children emotionally sane.

Any ideas gratefully received. Thank you.

HellesBelles396 Wed 23-Jan-13 17:18:08

My ex dropped off the radar one weekend and hasn't been back to see his son since. He was very unreliable prior to that and often no-showed or was late.

Lie for now - to protect them not him. When they're old enough to cope, they'll see him for what he is. Protect them from that for as long as you can.

Ex needs to settle himself down so let him know their reactions to him not following up on his promises.

DoubleYew Wed 23-Jan-13 19:50:03

I think it is a very fine line to walk. They don't need to know the details of why he does this but don't implicate yourself in covering up for him. I have seen posters on here say that came back to bite them.

I would stick to factual, say kindly that "I don't know when he'll visit again" (because you really truly don't know), you don't know when this party will happen (because you don't know) etc. Let them say they are upset and miss him, otherwise they may feel they have to hide their true feelings from you and they need one parent they can trust. Maybe let them dictate a letter or do some role playing with dolls to express their disappointment at being let down?

Can you speak to his parents? As grandparents they should have the dc's interests at heart? Although they probably have their hands full dealing with their son in this state.

Also look for other people they can develop relationships with like an uncle or close friend.

They will soon realise dad is all talk, it's still early days. You can't control what he does but you can work out a way to manage the fallout. Sad we have to do this for our children but that's life.

blackeyedsusan Wed 23-Jan-13 20:53:25

don't lie. use the don't know option. consider the daddy is not very well option too as mh issues are an illness. you can say that he wants to do these things but sometimes does not feel very well and can't manage, if that is true.

HellesBelles396 Wed 23-Jan-13 22:45:07

that's what I used to say - that ds's dad was poorly and he's come back when he felt better.

growingroots Thu 24-Jan-13 08:03:54

Thank you for the answers. It is something to think about.

I moved closer to family, partly for the children to get close relationships with other adults (my family) and that has really been a godsend for them.

Re: saying he is ill, I have used that line gently as it is true. But when they talk to him and tell him they want him to get better, he announces with a flourish that he is all 100% well again (which is not true sadly having spoken to his parents). So the children are confused with conflicting messages. I then tried the tack of sometimes adults lie and that got really difficult for them,

My RL advice that been to slowly let him drift off out of their lives, as that is what people expect, so not to micromanage their relationship. I think, with a heavy heart, that is the best for everyone. It gives him a chance to get better and the children have less to cope with. But I do not stop him, just don't let him walk all over us at a whim.

It feels sensible taking your approach DY, I need to think hard about how and when to do that.

I have tried getting GP involved, but I think they are very busy coping with him, and they have also not been wanting to make contact with the children much, no matter how often I invite them to.

thewhistler Thu 24-Jan-13 08:32:44

He is probably lying to them too, and they will want to believe him even if at heart they don't.

I think you do have to be upfront about Daddy sometimes forgets or says things that wont happen, just because that's the way he is.

Otherwise you end up in a ghastly mess at adolescence. As I saw with a friend, whose son has really suffered from a DF like this.

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