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My son doesn't want to see his father. Should I make him go?

(38 Posts)
trulyscrumptious43 Mon 11-May-09 23:48:36

I split with DS's dad when DS was 2yrs old. The Ex had bullied me for years until I felt worthless. I'm ashamed to say that I didn't manage to leave him myself, he just got bored of me in the end.(And of course he found someone else).

Our son is 12 now and has had a chequered history of seeing his dad. Ex has, for years, insisted on regular weekend stopovers and I've spent many years watching my son being forced crying into his dad's car, because I was too scared of him to stand up for DS. Also DS seemed to come home saying he's had a nice time.

Now he is older he is putting his foot down and saying that he doesn't have to go if he doesn't want to.
But it has been a constrant strain that DS doesn't want to go there.
Ex obviously thinks that I am manipulating the situation even though I've told him that I would really like DS to spend a bit more time there. The visits are few now (maybe once a month if that).

The thing is that DS has some behavioural problems and is 'on the spectrum', so is very single minded and easily upset. He is VERY clingy to me, which is wearing, but I feel I have to protect him. The Ex is an overbearing 'alpha' male with an attitude towards society which is quite unpleasant.DS said today that he didn't want daddy controlling his life (which although I say nothing, I identify with)and that he doesn't want anything to do with him.

What can/should I do? DS is about to break another weekend date and I feel so torn.

OP’s posts: |
OldLadyKnowsNothing Tue 12-May-09 00:08:32

Do you have any sort of court order re access? Your DS now seems old enough to make his own mind up.

trulyscrumptious43 Tue 12-May-09 00:21:47

No court order.
Ex has parental resposibility, that's all.
He has only ever paid me a total of £80 child support in all this time.
Ex isn't on DS's birth certificate because he didn't want to be, but is strangely petitioning me to go it now.

OP’s posts: |
FluffyBunnyGoneBad Tue 12-May-09 00:31:03

The only person who is benefiting from this relationship is the ex, no one else. Your son is the most important person in this relationship. If he's old enough to say what he wants and to understand what it means then you need to pay attention to him.
Parental responsibility doesn't automaticaly give a parent the right to see a child. It's to give them a say in the child's upbringing, jabs or school for example. Nothing else. If your son doesn't want to go then you need to respect this. Keep the channels there incase he changes his mind in the future though. I wouldn't force him, he may end up resenting you for this. The bonds between a single mum and her son are really strong. I'm a single mum to a boy aswell, he dotes on me so I know how it works. It would cause him a great deal of distress if he were to spend time away from me, I'm all he's known so I'm his world. Sadly, the fathers don't see this and think that we're poisoning their minds or slagging them off.
Your son will know what the truth is. Do what's right for him, not the ex.

trulyscrumptious43 Tue 12-May-09 00:39:48

Thank you so much for those kind words. They really hit the nail on the head. I have forced DS to go in the past and I feel that it's time for him to have his say now.
The channels are very much open, DS knows that I would be happy if he said he wanted to go.

However the Ex drives one of the school buses to DS's school and so DS sees him most days in the bus bay. I feel that there is a cat and mose thing going on sometimes here as I know that DS goes the long way round to avoid seeing his dad sometimes. I have spoken to the school about my concerns, but it's difficult when some days the Ex is almost a stalker and others DS is happy to speak to him.

OP’s posts: |
FluffyBunnyGoneBad Tue 12-May-09 00:43:37

Has he said why he doesn't want to see him?

trulyscrumptious43 Tue 12-May-09 08:04:31

DS is usually not able to say why he doesn't want to see his dad, but when he can articulate it, he says that he is scared of him, that dad tries to control him, and doesn't listen to him. He says that he doesn't feel comfortable there. All these things are familiar to me from years of abuse when I lived with the Ex, and although I don't think DS is at risk there physically, I know how domineering and imperious he is.
There is also the fact that the Ex smokes, which DS really is uncomfortable with, and he normally (I believe)smokes joints in the evening. Ever since becoming aware of what this is, DS has been distressed about his dad doing it and has texted me from his dad's house on occasion saying that he was upset by it.

OP’s posts: |
trulyscrumptious43 Tue 12-May-09 08:31:58

Also I'm worried about his motives for wanting to go on DS's birth cert now, as a few weeks ago he was telling DS that he would like him to change his surname to double barrelled - at the moment he has only my surname. Does anyone know if he can force me to put him on DS's birth cert?

OP’s posts: |
FluffyBunnyGoneBad Tue 12-May-09 10:12:44

Hmm. Have you been to see a solicitor to work out where you stand?

I find the childrens legal service very helpful. They have a contact number here

trulyscrumptious43 Tue 12-May-09 18:24:36

So...the Ex has been on the phone today. Tells me that he wants us to go to mediation. Which is ok I suppose, although I've nothing new to say on the subject. The only thing is that he wants to pay for it out of the measly child support he has only just started giving me, which is half of what the CSA want him to.
Is it me?

OP’s posts: |
dittany Tue 12-May-09 18:28:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Tamarto Tue 12-May-09 18:33:26

Of course it isn't you, he seems awful. He can have his name put on the birth cert, if he pushes it but he can't make your son change his name.

solidgoldSneezeLikeApig Tue 12-May-09 18:36:01

If he wants mediation he can pay for it. He does sound like a bully, You and your DS don't have to let him have his own way all the time: your DS is old enough to refuse to see him.

GypsyMoth Tue 12-May-09 19:08:52

well if it went to court,which is usually next step after failed mediation,then he wouldn't be forced at all. cafcass would inyterview your ds and that would be that!

Snorbs Tue 12-May-09 19:47:15

Your son's old enough for the court to start paying serious attention to his opinion.

trulyscrumptious43 Tue 12-May-09 22:41:00

It's good to hear that boys go through this sometimes, Dittany. The situation is so and again DS says that he would like to go, to my great relief, as then the pressure is off me for the while, but any slight change to make DS feel insecure and he's back to saying he won't go there.

This time it has been caused by the Ex ringing up DS and telling him that he shouldn't have gone on holiday with me to Spain for four days without telling him. Whether this is technically right or wrong is beside the point, it makes DS wobble out and cling to me emotionally.

OP’s posts: |
dittany Tue 12-May-09 23:20:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

trulyscrumptious43 Wed 13-May-09 09:00:53

You're right Dittany. However it's sometimes hard to tell if I'm being played by DS, who is very good at getting his own way by emotional means. But I do identify with his complaints about his dad and feel that I must above all give him protection.

I'm petrified about going into mediation with the Ex as he is so bullish and will play the slighted, well intentioned and not so well informed father.

I have years of being pushed by this man into situations where I didn't want to be. I signed the joint parental responsibility order with him because he'd said that if I did, then I could ask him about child support. Once it was signed he laughed in my face.

How will anyone believe me though? I've no proof of what he did to me and no proof that my son feels anxiety about being with this man.

OP’s posts: |
solidgoldSneezeLikeApig Wed 13-May-09 10:22:28

Trulyscrumptios: contact women's aid or a DV support unit of some kind or at least a counsellor specialising in DV issues. Your X is an abuser and you need some back-up here: the courts will take it into account that both you and your DS have been intimidated by this man (also that he has been dishonest about child support).

dittany Wed 13-May-09 18:01:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Mumofagun Wed 13-May-09 21:10:04

Once again trulyscrumptious thank you for linking me into your thread. I know I didn't go into too much detail but yes, my XDP and yours could almost be one and the same man angry. Fwiw, my experience of mediation was that each party had to pay their own costs and there was a schedule of payments according to income. XDP was on legal aid and I was working so he didn't have to pay his half but I had to pay mine. If he can't even afford to pay you a decent amount of child support is his income low? If that's the case he may not have to pay anyway? Even if he does go to mediation and portray himself as butter wouldn't melt, Mr hard done by, innocent etc, you are still in a safe environment and any agreement that you can reach which you would have in writing, may be better than going to court in the long run. If he acts to form and breaks the agreement and THEN takes you to court, it doesn't look good on him.That said, I know this doesn't solve your anxiety and DS's about going to him in the first place. Mediation might be the place to start, to at least show you tried to explain DS's anxieties before any court action. I spent years in courts and ended up re-mortgaging my house although I had no choice in the end.I didn't think I'd end up thinking mediation might be a place to start, but don't let him hoodwink you over costs etc.Hope this is of some use smile

sunshine13 Thu 14-May-09 14:19:22

I think you need to encourage child to see Dad. I think it's wonderful that Dad is wanting to be involved in child's life. As a parent yo should be doing all you can to encourage this contact- not try and block it.

I know so many dads who have been cut out of their child's life by ex- wives who feel that the child is ONLY THEIR child)

2rebecca Thu 14-May-09 14:33:30

If you do do things like take your son abroad without telling/asking his dad though you aren't helping the situation. I think your ex was wrong to discuss this with your son rather than you but generally taking children abroad should be agreed by all with parental responsibility and my ex and I have always stuck to that. At 12 a court would probably go with your son's wishes, but 12 year olds sometimes aren't good at thinking of the long term implications of their actions and I would be very disinclined to stop my son seeing his dad unless I really thought he was being abused. If he did stop going for weekends I would be keen to encourage him to go out for meals/ for the day with his dad instead. If his dad loves him, which is likely then the long term consequences for both of them of breaking off contact really aren't worth it, especially as you say your son comes home saying he has had a nice time. If he came home in tears saying he'd hated it I'd be more inclined to stop him going.
If my kids lived with their dad I wouldn't like to think I lost access to them because they sometimes didn't want to come. Autistic kids are known for not liking change so he probably doesn't want to leave you to go to his dads and then not want to leave his dads to see you. That doesn't mean either of you should lose contact though.

RedEmma Thu 14-May-09 14:34:20

Have you read the thread sunshine? hmm

jumpingbeans Thu 14-May-09 14:37:28

Go with your son, he is not a baby - if he don't want to see his dad at the moment, thats fine and if later he changes his mind then thats fine too, his dad should understand this is about your sons happiness and wellbeing...not his

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