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How to deal with DC thinking his dad is perfect

(25 Posts)
L012345 Tue 06-Aug-19 23:29:00

Just felt I needed to vent. I have separated from ex for about 6 years now but was always on and off due to a gambling addiction. I tried absolutely everything in my power to help and support him. I am in a lot of debt trying to help, take him to meetings etc, I was lied to and stolen from. I felt like I was losing my mind and finally I walked away after finding out how much he had stolen from me yet again and lied and convinced me I was going crazy.

I am now with my new DP and have been for 3.5 years. He supports me and DS in every way possible. Ex has not paid a single penny for him for years and even when he did it was just a fraction of money he owed and not money for DS. He has only started seeing DS every second weekend in the past two years. Previous to this I went to a lawyer to try and arrange visiting as he was just turning up at my house when suited him or telling me he was coming and either not turning up or coming mid afternoon smelling of drink from the night before. One time he didn’t turn up and I asked him to explain to DS why as I was sick of making excuses for him, he told DS his alarm hadn’t went off (he was asleep with a hangover till 8pm)! When DS goes to his house he still shares a bed with his dad as he still lives with his mum, he’s told me for 6 years he’ll find a house and still nothing, he has no routine and let’s DS sit up all night watching tv till he falls asleep then I am the bad one for implementing a routine and trying my hardest.
I contacted child maintenance after getting sick of the lies and no money after promises constantly and so far he has dodged paying a penny somehow. I must mention he is able to go on holidays, trips away, days out with his new partner.
I’m just struggling now because DS sees his dad as this poor man who I feel he almost feels sorry for. He is constantly telling me why I should drop him off and pick him up because his dad can’t drive so I should do all this (I also have a DD with DP and need to drag her back and forth) and he doesn’t drive because he doesn’t want to be “fat and lazy”. DS tells me he obviously doesn’t see him because he has to work and I don’t as much as him( I now work term time as I had to find a new job to suit DS school holidays and pick up and drop off times as I had no other support), he asks me and DP for everything and I wouldn’t say isn’t grateful but seems to find it the norm yet he wouldn’t even ask his dad for a pound as his dad “doesn’t have any money”. His dad could buy him something so small for a birthday and it would be treated like he got him the world yet nothing I do is good enough. Tonight I was told how his dad has more important things to do than play with him and he has to work etc yet I am running around busy constantly trying to entertain him (and dd) all summer with no help from him and I never get any thanks. I’m just finding it difficult to bite my tongue and feel so unappreciated. I ask my ex to help out more etc but all I get is excuses, he doesn’t help financially and he does every second weekend where I drop off and pick up DS. I’m thankful for this at least as it’s much more than he has done in the past but I’m just struggling at how DS seems to think he’s perfect and expects so much more from myself and DP and constantly makes all these excuses for his dad.

OP’s posts: |
Embracelife Tue 06-Aug-19 23:37:07

He is his dad
As simple as that.
You can't compete
A child won't appreciate what you do.
At least the exp is now having to feed ds every other weekend.

KellyHall Tue 06-Aug-19 23:39:38

I think all you can do is what you are doing: keep up the relationship your ds, lifts etc if you have the means, as he obviously still wants his dad and let him make up his own mind.
My mum was always adamant she wouldn't try to influence our opinion of our dad and eventually we realised what an arsehole he was on our own!
If you're anything but supportive to ds, he won't even have you to fall back on when he realises what a dick his dad is.
If you feel ds is taking advantage of you and dp, maybe you could alter his pocket money to be more like being rewarded for things like helping with chores. With a view that you also feel for your ex (even if you don't really) and you want to help ds towards financial independence and avoid ending up with 'no money' like his dad.

Lllot5 Tue 06-Aug-19 23:40:05

How old is your son? Tell him the truth about his dad. Tell him he’s a gambler a waste of space just tell him

L012345 Tue 06-Aug-19 23:50:47

Thank you for the replies.
I just try to get on with it and I don’t say a word bad about his dad (as hard as that is), I don’t want me influencing the way he feels about him and I know his dad must love him although I think his priorities are all wrong but it’s frustrating when you do your absolute best in every way and I get all the grief (as well as lots and lots of good) but the ex manages to get only the good parts and doesn’t take on any responsibility. I think I just had to vent a little.
I think I tend to feel guilty also as I never ever wanted this for DS, I brought him into the world thinking he’d have a family and I was left thru no fault of my own. I desperately want him to be the good dad DS considers him to be. It’s just hard sometimes when DS expects so much from me and DP yet expects nothing from someone who is supposed to put him first. DS has a great life but that’s been down to me and DP since he came into his life and sometimes I just wish he’d see all that we do and sacrifice for him in comparison.
DS has just turned 9. That’s what I was wondering if other people would just tell him but I don’t want to be that person who influences how he thinks or sees his dad I guess or make him feel bad, I don’t want my son hurt. I almost don’t even want him to see it himself as I know how let down it must feel to realise how little he has actually done but unfortunately that’s the reality and I carry a lot of guilt having brought him into this situation but I wasn’t aware he wouldn’t have his dad in his life full time.

OP’s posts: |
IrregularCommentary Tue 06-Aug-19 23:56:07

He's still really young. He idolises his Dad, and he should have the opportunity to do so. I suspect when he is a bit older and a bit more aware of life, he will see things more clearly and will grow up to appreciate all that you have done. In the meantime, I think you just have to suck it up I'm afraid.

L012345 Wed 07-Aug-19 00:00:53

@IrregularCommentary thank you. I agree. I’ve been sucking it up for years and I’ll continue to do so. Just one of those nights I felt like I had to get it out there to move on. Don’t have many people I can discuss it with who would understand but I just need to do what is best for DS and hopefully one day he sees everything I’ve done and wanted for him because I simply love him and maybe one day I won’t feel so guilty that his dad doesn’t do more. Maybe one day it’ll change and he’ll step up, who knows

OP’s posts: |
Graphista Wed 07-Aug-19 00:30:02

Controversial but honest.

Stop shielding his dad!

"Not slating him" is NOT the same as excusing inexcusable behaviour.

My dd and I have been through similar, without the gambling.

I now very much regret doing as you did and as SO MANY single mums are advised "ahh they're too young to have to deal with the reality, don't interfere in their relationship with their dad, don't speak bad of him" blah blah blah

It does NOBODY except the deadbeat arsehole any favours!

My dd was blatantly honest with me when our situation reached a peak where I had to tell her that he wasn't paying cm properly, wasn't making the effort to see her and I could no longer afford to cover for his fuck ups and shit attitude! She was angry at him and hurt at his lack of effort but she was also angry and disappointed with me for misleading her and basically prolonging a situation that was really an illusion.

Be honest, in an age appropriate way.

"Mummy and dp make sure you get all the things you need"

"Daddy DOES have money you don't need to worry about that"

"Not everyone drives but there are buses and trains and taxis which are how people who can't/don't drive get about. Daddy is perfectly capable of doing this too"

When I stopped (partly as discussion with dd, she wanted her dad to show he could make an effort and I don't actually blame her, but partly because I plain couldn't afford to keep paying out cos he'd messed up yet again!) bending over backwards facilitating my ex's relationship with dd FAR Beyond what was reasonable he very quickly stopped bothering not only with the stuff I'd been sorting for him but even free and easy things like phone calls, greetings cards, presents at birthdays/Christmas...

He is a worthless piece of shit and my dd deserves better as does your boy, but I'm telling you the older they are when they realise their dad is a lazy, useless arse who doesn't really prioritise them, the harder it is for them to deal with.

For me that is not only based on our experience but having seen many family and friends going through similar, not just dads either but nrps even if women it really seems to be a case of "out of sight out of mind" for a lot of them.

Definitely DON'T cover for him ESPECIALLY if it leaves you out of pocket.

The thing that led to dd realising was she told me dad had promised her X thing for Christmas but didn't mention it to her dad, so when X was under the tree wrapped and marked "from dad" it all kicked off. So not the best Christmas and I very much regret that, and genuinely thought I was doing what was best for dd in the circumstances.

I now just think I was an absolute mug to cover for him for so long and allowing his shitty behaviour to cause (albeit very temporary, she understood I was trying to be kind) upset between us.

Lllot5 Wed 07-Aug-19 06:25:18

Graphista said it so much better than me.
I would not keep covering for him. Do you think he would do for you? Course not. I bet he goes out of his way to slag you off.

InTheHeatofLisbon Wed 07-Aug-19 06:33:07

Graphista has it nailed bang on.

I had this with DS1, but realised I was killing myself covering up XH inadequacy and he knew I'd never drop the ball so took full advantage.

Now he is told (in response to lies from XH) in an age appropriate way, so that he knows the basics of the truth but I don't ever attack or slag off his dad.

He does understand the realities of the fact his dad is an EOW and nothing in between "dad" and that that's his choice (dad told me you stopped him coming to my school plays. No son, your dad never asked which school you went to and chose not to come.)

He knows that his father doesn't contribute emotionally, financially, practically and that he loves him but isn't a father in the true sense of the word.

He's 12 now, and it's rough going sometimes, especially as his dad lies. A lot.

But he's getting there and he knows he has me, DP and my dad if he needs anything. He's also learned to take what his dad says with a pinch of salt.

CupoTeap Wed 07-Aug-19 06:53:54

Your dis knows you are reliable and will provide for him, he takes this for granted as he should. He knows his dad cannot do this. He understands it as much as he probably needs to right now.

Your frustration shouldn't be directed at your ds, just his dad.

Ex was late collecting my dc and dd said well it is a long way and traffic etc. I agreed did mention that why you have to plan and make sure you leave on time when you have to be somewhere though.

megletthesecond Wed 07-Aug-19 06:59:07

What graphista said.
Don't cover for him and don't let your ds carry on thinking his dad is wonderful.

DrDiva Wed 07-Aug-19 07:31:04

From my experience, the reason your DS expects nothing from his dad is because on some hidden level, he knows that’s what his dad is capable of. But that’s an incredibly hard realisation to make explicit, so he’s hidden it away in the depths. And he knows you are the one capable of actually parenting him, though that’s too adult a concept for him to articulate.
I’m with Graphista too - there are ways of not covering for his dad, without slating him. It’s also part of allowing your DS to learn what is acceptable as adult behaviour, for when he himself is one.

HoneyWheeler Wed 07-Aug-19 07:37:57

Oh gosh this sounds so hard. Just wanted to pop in and say that he (your DS) is taking you for granted because he has a rock solid attachment to you. He knows you will be there for him and he cane reliably expect things from you. This is hard to handle but shows what an excellent job you are doing.

L012345 Wed 07-Aug-19 08:09:05

Thank you for all the replies especially @Graphista.

When I do get frustrated these are the kind of things I do say and I wondered if it was too much and felt guilty for saying them but maybe it’s the right thing to do. For example when he says about how his dad “can’t” come see him, I explain there’s lots of people who can’t drive but there’s buses and trains etc and if he wanted to he could ask me to take him, when he talks about how his dad has no money to buy him anything I have told him his dad has a job that pays lots more than me but his dad makes different choices on what he spends it on. I didn’t know if I was being a bit harsh saying these things and felt guilty as I don’t want to be the one putting it into his head his dad doesn’t care (I do also always tell him I’m sure his dad loves him very much but should maybe make better choices).

I know my frustration shouldn’t be with DS and it isn’t really, it’s with my ex, it’s just hard to hear sometimes especially after a long day and I just needed to get it out. I know he relies on me because of our bond and that’s all he’s known and I explain this to DP when he at times can’t see how he expects so much from us and not his dad ( he doesn’t get annoyed at his but rather annoyed at how much his dad gets away with yet DS and feels ex takes the piss )

Thank you all, I just feel a bit better writing it down. This isn’t a new issue and I’ve dealt with it so far just wondered if I was doing it right at times and after a long day it was weighing on my mind, tired and had just heard all the excuses about his dad whilst I was the one exhausted and he doesn’t so much as lift a phone to see how his son is even on his weekend I need to chase him to find out what is happening. I hope one day DS sees not even that his dad is useless, I don’t get any joy from that, but just how much I try.

OP’s posts: |
Soopermum1 Wed 07-Aug-19 08:58:27

Hi OP. I have a very similar situation with my DS who is, unfortunately, 15 and in therapy.

The therapist said DS knows the situation deep down and feels comfortable expecting everything from me and nothing from his Dad. His Dad paints himself as the victim, no money, thrown out of his own home, having to live in a shared house etc. The reality is he was abusive, was removed by the police and is resisting all my attempts to divorce him and pay him enough money to buy a place of his own. He has a good job.

DS has said he doesn't see why his Dad should pay anything for him and his sister, echoing what his Dad says/ thinks, and appears to think this is normal and correct.

When I present him with irrefutable evidence, he just bats it off angry it's like he can't face the truth, a bit like his Dad.

His Dad has mental health issues, particularly fixed thinking and DS is in therapy due to concerns he could develop the same issues. I don't want DS growing up thinking his father's behaviour is normal and correct.

So, I'm waiting for that moment everyone tells me about, where he can see his father for what he is, but it hasn't come yet. He has put up with some pretty shitty behaviour and it is up to me to advocate for him (though his father doesn't listen to me anyway) the therapist has advocated for him, again, not listened to.

Watching this thread with interest for advice 😔

ThanosSavedMe Wed 07-Aug-19 09:10:49

I used to idolise my bio dad too. I realised around the age of 13 that he was an utter twat and that was hard.

I totally agree with what graphista said, stop covering for him. That doesn’t mean you have to bad mouth him

Sotiredofthislife Wed 07-Aug-19 11:34:25

It comes good in the end. I spent years biting my tongue and feeling very put out at how wonderful they thought dad was. When the eldest went to high school, things began to shift. He began to see through his dad and began to talk about it with me. He has asked for clarification on issues when he considered dad was probably lying and I have told him the truth as I see it. Whilst he still sees dad (will be in year 11 in September), he is very clear about the kind of person he is, who he trusts and which side his bread is buttered.

Trust that if you answer questions honestly but in an age appropriate way and keep your mouth shut and keep your eye rolling to yourself, it will eventually come good.

Embracelife Wed 07-Aug-19 15:45:08

Well it isnt "good" that the dad turns out to be a twat... hardly a victory from DC pov
But you will know that you support and are there for dc
It is a great idea to be factual in a calm.way saying the truth
Yes dad works more hours.every day. I work part time which means I can be there to take you to xxx and yyy
And teaching...
It s a good idea to have an alarm clock which works so you can be on time

angell84 Wed 07-Aug-19 17:35:32

It is a bit sad that you are jealous. My mother was like this too. She couldn't bear that I loved my Dad. She was so jealous. Which is ridiculous. As I always said to her, loving someone else doesn't mean that I don't love you. You can love more than one person. Your relationship with your ex is nothing to do with your son's relationship with your ex. He hurt you that is NOTHING to do with your son. I even heard my aunty talk like this the other day about her grandchild. She said that she does everything for the child and the grandfather does nothing, and yet when the grandchild goes over he thinks that his granddad is the the bee's knees. I looked at her in bewilderment and I said " of course he is going to love him he is his grandfather!" You doing more for him is not going to make him stop loving his grandfather. It is a very possesive way to think.

L012345 Wed 07-Aug-19 18:12:38

@angell84 you have clearly read my post with your own situation in mind or took it completely wrong. I am in no way jealous of my ex or my sons love for him and I have no idea where you have got this from or how I could possibly be jealous. I have fought to maintain their relationship when my ex had absolutely no interest in my son. I paid for a phone for him for years just so we had contact even tho he didn’t once text or phone on his own accord, I’ve paid his debts to keep him safe. I went to a lawyer in desperation to try and organise visits so my son had a relationship with him. I have never rubbished my ex to my son or in front of my son and if anything have went beyond to help him and have always said he loves my son and my son loves him, something that I hope is the one constant. What I am saying is he doesn’t prioritise his child unfortunately and I am left doing absolutely everything and you must see the frustration when DS doesn’t realise how much he has let him down and he feels sorry for a grown man who is more than capable but CHOOSES not to put his child first. How it must hurt me that someone who is supposed to be equal to me and brought him into the world doesn’t put him first or make any effort. You obviously don’t understand the situation. No one expects them to not love his dad, I hope he does, I encourage their relationship but it doesn’t stop it hurting me when I see the impact it has on my child. Also you pointing out he hurt me? Where have I even mentioned the hurt he put me through, it is irrelevant, I’m not talking about the hurt he put me through or care about that, I’m discussing how he lets my child down. Your post would make sense if I was talking about someone who let me down and hurt me and I was stopping a relationship between my son and him due to my own hurt. I’m doing the absolute opposite and have done from the start.

OP’s posts: |
Graphista Wed 07-Aug-19 18:45:17

I'm so relieved people understood me! Previously when I've made such posts I've been flamed!

But as I say, my views/advice now is based on having gone through all this with dd and also having seen family/friends have the same difficulties.

It's one thing "not bad mouthing" the other parent (and as pps have pointed out nrps don't always behave well on that score! My ex certainly didn't! Leading dd at one point to believe - though he was careful not to directly say so - that it was ME That had cheated!! When she reached a point of doing sex ed and gestation etc at school she is not daft and worked out her eldest half-sibling was conceived 2 months before her dad and I split!)

It's quite another to cover for them, leave yourself financially short and rushing around like a headless chicken trying to fix their cock ups!!

On one occasion for me that meant £500 in train tickets I could ill afford (had to borrow from my parents) to get dd back to ours in time to go back to school after a holiday! He'd messed up the dates on his end! Despite me emailing the schools calendar AND numerous texts and other messages where I was checking with him and he'd kept saying "yea yea I know I've got it"

His attitude was "so she has a couple days off school, just call her in sick" but it was causing dd distress (she always hated the idea of "getting into trouble") it would have been ME facing questions from the school (dd was too young at the time to be expected to reliably stick to any lie we might have told - NOT that this would have been acceptable either) and potentially getting a fine!

Graphista Wed 07-Aug-19 18:45:51

Op my dd is now 18, we have NOT had it easy as a little family for lots of reasons and I definitely feel guilt at some of my choices and even things that have happened over which I have no control and know logically I am not to blame, but I can assure you, she and also her other friends with useless dads and also my friends who are single parents have said that as they get older and better able to understand and appreciate things more, they DO tell you that they "get it".

My dd has had a horrendous time of it with her dad and I end up upset and apologising for giving her a crap dad! (While wanting to strangle him!), dd has said to me in various conversations (often as a result of a friend having been let down yet again by their own deadbeat dad) that she totally knows that I'M the one that's been there for her always.

Through skint knees, friendship fallouts, school issues, chicken pox, umpteen colds and d&v, in our case also numerous trips to Drs, a&e and hospital stays (she has a disability), broken hearts due to capricious boyfriends, exams, leaving school, starting work...

But ALSO days out, picnics, very proud parents evenings, good school reports, nativity plays, end of year shows, brownies and guides, dance recitals, gym club displays, watching obscure movies together, singing along to old songs, playing ice cream parlour in the bath, bedtime stories, developing our own traditions around Christmas and birthdays etc...

My ex will NEVER have any of that with her, he'll never have that bond and he'll never have those memories and "in jokes"

When we first split we were all living near each other and I sent him and his family dds nursery and then school calendar with all the events on, invited him to parents evenings and nativity plays etc - he never came to one not one! It would have taken him very little effort to do so. Originally his excuse was "it would be awkward" but even after his parents had come to a couple of things and assured him he didn't even need to speak to or sit near me he STILL didn't bother! While we still lived near enough his parents (mainly his mum his dad not in best of health even then), they made the effort to come, they've also made the effort to stay in touch with dd and send her cards and gifts and money regularly.

Utterly pathetic!

Graphista Wed 07-Aug-19 18:46:15

You'll also find as ds gets older and has friends in similar situations THEY will help him to see things in a more realistic light too.

One of dds friends her parents are divorced too BUT her dad is one of the "good 'uns", sees her loads, makes an effort with parents eves etc and pays a decent amount of cm voluntarily and even pays extra if the mum asks for certain things. And it was not an "amicable" split but he's NEVER see than as an excuse to be a crap dad! It was partly seeing how her friends dad is and her friend (as kids can be) being quite blunt at times about how unreasonable dds dads behaviour has been, opened dds eyes quite a bit.

Graphista Wed 07-Aug-19 18:46:37

Angell op is NOT jealous! She's understandably hurt that her DS isn't yet understanding that op and her dp are the ones there for him while his dad is just full of excuses and empty promises while DS puts him on a pedestal he's unworthy of!

It is NOT about possessiveness either, I would have loved for dd to see much more of her dad and spend quality time with him and be treated well by him.

It's not only hurt at the lack of acknowledgement of who is making the real effort for the child, it is hurt at seeing your child CONSTANTLY and REPEATEDLY let down by that person, seeing their heartbreak and having to be the one to pick up the pieces. There is no pain like seeing your child utterly defeated and heartbroken because yet again their absent parent has let them down, often in favour of their "new" children and often without a reasonable excuse, merely they can't be bothered!

Whatever you SAID to your mother I hope you also SHOWED your appreciation and love NOT ONLY because she was also your parent, but because SHE was the one that very likely did the majority of the grunt work AND went without financially and very likely in terms of time too, to ensure you had all you needed emotionally, practically and financially.

Nothing wrong with loving your dad, but if you praised him or feted him for doing the bare minimum while your mum did the job of 2 parents then you have done your mum a great disservice. Are you a parent yourself? I very much doubt you are a single parent as you would "get it" then.

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