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12yo DS refusing to see his Dad, can anyone guide me through this please(30 Posts)
I split from DS' dad when he was 5, he is now 12. My ex was a pretty awful partner and hasn't been a great dad either but I totally accept DS needs his Dad and I've done whatever I can to facilitate that, I've always been pleasant and nice about him to DS smoothed over his let downs and inadequacies, kept the fact that he provides zero financial help a separate issue, and included him in everything that I can (parents eves, key decisions etc) is that he feels included.
He did live close by and at times has barely seen his son for weeks on end. He moved away 4 months ago for work.
DS has always idolised his dad, and that's fine by me- I feel it's important.... Recently they have fallen out. I don't want to be too outing but ex said some stuff that understandably upset DS. DS really took it all to heart and didn't want to see his dad. Ex has apologised, but not in a meaningful way IMO because he has refused to acknowledge that he genuinely upset DS.
Anyway, DS is now saying he doesn't want to see his dad. I just don't know how to handle this. His dad will hit the roof, he will likely come round and insist we let him in so he can talk to DS. On one hand I accept that more talking is needed to sort this out.
On the other hand I don't want to force DS to see his dad and I want him to feel I've got his back. His dad isn't great at listening and tends to shout and although he wouldn't hit anyone he can be loud and intimidating.
My husband is worried that he will be incredibly angry.
I just don't know how to handle this.
Can anyone offer any advice please?
Your poor son. Would his dad be open to writing a letter to his son apologising/ explaining why he said what he said?
I’d be very tempted to not allow the dad to see ds until ds is ready to. At least in the short term. You’re right that ds needs to know that you’ve got his back and you’ve covered up his dads shitty behaviour for long enough.
I think you have to listen to DS and yes show him you've got his back.
You could however maybe try and discuss this with his dad and state the need for DS to have a meaningful apology from him. Maybe all 3 of you could get together and discuss it? Not sure if that's a option?
hi OP. Sympathies, that's a tough one.
Imo your ds is getting to the age when he is able to make a fairly accurate assessment of a situation like this. You don't think the apology was really meaningful, and by the sound of it, neither does your ds. His instinct not to see his dad after this is pretty sound, he's taking care of himself and that's a good thing.
You all sound fearful of your ex which is not a great sign. Shouting, loud and intimidating sounds scary, and again makes your ds' decision look wise.
How can you communicate to your ex that his son doesnt want to see him at the moment as a result of what has happened?
Tiptoeing around someone is not healtjy or normal. Your ex is coming across as aggressive and potentially abusive.
And agree with op that he does sound agressive and you do sound fearful of him. You need to show ds that you stand up to bullies, even if they unfortunately happen to be his dad
Thank you for replying and for understanding.
Ex can be intimidating. He's big and when he shouts he does scare me tbh, but not because I think he's hurt me- it's quite hard to explain. In the past he has just refused to listen to me, turned up even when I've asked him not to and tried to force me to talk. He once banged in the door until my now husband opened it, and so we both know he's capable of creating havoc.
DS is totally unaware of any of this though. He has never witnessed any of it.
It's true as a kind poster above said that DS probably senses that his dads apology was hollow.
DS has clammed up and won't discuss this with me beyond that he doesn't want to see his dad, and I'm finding it really sad to tbh I that maybe he is beginning to see him for who he really is.
I've no idea how I'm going to be able to stop his dad handling this really really badly. Of course o know in reality that I can't control how his dad acts, and he will not listen to any suggestions that I make.
I just want to protect my boy, and handle this well because he deserves at least one strong balanced parent.
OP you sound like you have a good measure of the situation, of your ds and your ex. Keep up lines of communication with son. You can explain things from your ex's perspective so your ds understands. But as long as you and he are clear that you are totally behind your ds and any decision that he makes, and that you love him. He'll be OK. He has a lovely mum.
@colouringindoors thank you.
I'm trying to keep communication open, but (unlike me) DS isn't much of a talker. I find that quite frustrating TBH, but I try to respect this and I guess that pushing it only makes things worse.....
I've navigated coparenting without too much difficulty until now- despite ex often being a woeful dad. But it has seemed natural to fill in the gaps, and do what I can to facilitate the best relationship that I could between them.
It's a bit of a shock to hear DS saying he doesn't like his dad, and it's hard to know what to say or do. He's right to be fair, his dad is not very nice in many ways, but I always thought he would continue to see the good bits .
I’m in a similar situation. I’ve just arranged family counselling. My ex was told that my DC (also 12) wouldn’t be visiting him again until we had attended counselling. Had he refused to attend he would have had to pursue it via court. It’s not ideal, but I feel it’s important to listen to my DCs wishes, I believe a court would.
He's of an age where he can choose whether or not to see his father.
I had similar, and it went to court. It was determined that at 12-years-old, it was the child's decision whether or not she wanted to see her father.
I wouldn't get involved, I wouldn't push for him
to see him, or to not see him. I'd leave it up to your DS.
Thank you. I think you're both right that a court wouldn't force DS to see his dad. But, that's a last resort and not one that I think exp would resort to.
What I hope is that we can go back to things as they were with DS having a good relationship with his Dad, but I guess I can't actually force that it happen.
I feel for you as you clearly want to facilitate a relationship between your son and his dad. My ds stopped seeing his dad 9 months ago. He’s 13. We split nearly 3 years ago. And my ex is a bullying arse. I went through a lot of what you describe. Trying to fix things. Make it better. Make both see the other’s POV. But my son needed me to step up for him. Respect his wishes and his choice. Your priority here is not how your ex reacts. How he feels is not your problem anymore. If he chooses to get angry, he’s a grown man and should know better. Your priority is your vulnerable 12yo. Once I saw that with my son, I pushed back with my ex and refused to force ds to see him. My ex was furious. He blamed me, he blamed ds2, anyone but himself. My son is happier with me. Even though his 3 siblings still see their dad. He chose the hard way but what was right for him and I’m proud of him for that.
Chaotic45 I know exactly what you mean. I've done my best to enable my own ds to have as good a relationship with his dad as possible, though his dad isn't great. It's hard. In many ways I don't want my ds to realise his dad is actually a bit shit. But at the same time, as he starts to see it, I have to support him as best I can as it's a horrible realisation for ds.
@accessorizequeen sorry to hear you've been through similar. It's interesting that your ex blamed everyone but himself- I expect that will be the case here too and that I will bear the brunt of it.
@colouringindoors yes exactly that. It's not nice seeing DS come to some realisations about his dad. I haven't agreed with him as such, as I'm a acutely aware that bad mouthing him is a very bad route to go down. But DS is heartbreakingly accurate in his assessment and it's very hard to hear.
I need to let exp know about this today I think rather than launch it on him unexpectedly at the weekend.
I'm going to send him a text but I've really no idea what to say. He will have expected me to try to persuade DS to change his mind. I have gently tried but haven't pushed it as that would seem wrong- so Exp is going to push back.
Any ideas as to what to say to exp?
You can’t fool kids as easily as most people think
It’s great you don’t badmouth your ex, but maybe you’ve almost gone too far the other way and are now managing his relationship with DS?
Let ex be angry. So what. Not your job to manage their relationship
Just be there for DS when he’s going through the realisation his dad is a dick
Yes the ex will be angry and say you turned him against him, he will say that anyway you see. You can’t “win” that one. Just be there for DS and let ex stew
Listen to your son. I begged and begged and begged not to see my dad. No ine listemed to me, it was all about what was "right", what "my dad wanted". But no one cares about what I wanted. He would call me.downstairs at 8 years old and 11pm and I would have to stand there, for several hours, whilst He got drunker and drunker, telling me everything that was wrong with me. In the day, I had to be quiet and ready, in case he called. I spent my childhood utterly frightened, and my mum still forced me to go stay with him because "a father has rights". What about the child's rights to feel safe and loved?
Just tell you ex the truth, that ds had asked not to see him and that you wont force him.
So tell ex: DS does not want to see you right now, he’ll probably calm down and be ok next week
Just take the “nod and smile” approach with ex. Be steely determined to have your DS’ back whilst being friendly, aloof and non commits towards ex
“Isn’t it a shame...”
@Chaotic45 Take the emotion out and just be factual with him. Don’t give him any leeway to push back with you. Try and remember that your son has chosen not to see his dad and this is not your fault nor responsibility. “Hi Exp, just letting you know that DS doesn’t wish to see you at present. I will be in touch if that changes. Please respect his wishes.”
How about, keep it short and factual, don’t give any additional ammunition.
Dear cockwomble (maybe temper that bit)
Ds is still very upset about recent events and does not wish to see you this weekend. Please do not turn up as we will be taking him out for the day instead. I will ask him if he wishes to meet for your next contact weekend nearer the time but ultimately it is his choice and I will respect that.
Then I would take him out to avoid a scene should he actually turn up.
Thanks again for posting. It really helps to know that other people understand. Ok, I'll go with a factual short text and await a phone call during which I'll try not to get in too deep....
I agree with other posters, in that perhaps you’ve gone too far the other way. It’s actually healthier in the long term for your DS to know the person his father actually is, not an idealised, sanitised version. It’s a facade, and your son will know that. It’d do more damage for him to try and uphold a relationship based on a personality that isn’t real.
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