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what exactly do you think the non resident parent's responsibilities should be?

(19 Posts)
nightowl Wed 27-Jul-05 01:44:09

ds's dad and i split mutually when ds was 18 months old. since then he has been pretty useless in all honesty and has copped out on nearly every arrangement we've ever had.

this is what i ask of him:

1. that he pick ds up from the school play and stay 4 days a week and bring him home. (ds goes to a school not local to me (he was being bullied at the local one) and as i cant drive and would have to spend money on buses and lug the baby about, it makes more sense (financially and otherwise) for his father to pick him up on the way back from work. it only takes him 10 minutes in the car.

2. that he gives me £20 a week maintenance and goes halves on things like school uniforms, karate uniform etc.

3. that he takes him for one night a week (although this rarely happens).

its only been the last three weeks or so that he has had ds at the weekend. before that, he didnt have him for months. this was, apparently because his wife was pregnant and could go into labour at any time. before that it was because he was moving house, in fact, for the last 6 1/2 years he has always found a good excuse.

we had a massive row the other day because he handnt turned up for ds on friday night and had not answered my calls or messages. he told me he was not going to give me money any more as he "didnt know what i was spending it on as ds looked a scruff".

i replied that i was not going to dress ds up in his best clothes to go to his house as he never takes him anywhere.

this is the man who:

used to leave ds out and play football with the neighbour's kid because he was older and could kick a ball better.

sat outside the soft play area in the pub with his friend while we had ds's party inside. for the whole party, a few years ago. he missed ds blowing out his candles because he couldnt be bothered to come in.

never spends any quality time with his son. has never attended a school play, a parents evening, a progress review with his special teacher etc etc.

i could go on and on....

im angry, really angry that he seemed to incinuate that i am some kind of scrounger when he knows damn well i have worked my butt off ever since i left school and my children have anything they could possibly want. i will go without myself to buy them what they need.

he only ever buys ds anything on his birthday and at xmas, and only clothes then. he buys him nothing throughout the year. he takes him nowhere. he gave him no spending money to take on holiday.

i bought ds new bedroom furniture and had to put it all together myself when i was 7 months pregnant because his dad would not help me.

when ds had his last heart scan i had to traipse up to birmingham 9 months pregnant because his dad would not take him.

when ds had his tonsils out, his dad would not stay with him, knowing that i had a baby 3 weeks old and could not stay the night myself.

he says that because ds lives with me then its my problem. i replied that he made this baby too and that ds was planned. it made no difference.

im actually starting to think i ask too much of him. he's twisting my head around.

ive decided to make a list of what it costs me a year to take care of ds. can you think of anything i can include? then i can slap it in his face and maybe he will see how good he has it.

are all dads like this?

Bugsy2 Wed 27-Jul-05 11:00:39

Big sigh on your behalf. Don't expect him to be reasonable - it doesn't seem to happen.
You'd think he'd want to share the responsibility wouldn't you? It is so annoying.
Having had to do lists of expenses for the divorce, as well as all the obvious stuff you should also include half of your housing costs as your little one has to be housed, don't forget things like cinema trips, entry fees for swimming pools, play barns etc etc. Birthday presents for your own son and all the other children whose parties he goes to.
Train fares to visit relatives, babysitting costs etc etc
Hope this is of some help.
Wish there was some way of making these lazy a**e fathers pull their weight!!!

Caligula Wed 27-Jul-05 11:14:47

Oh God.

No not all dads are like this, but a good percentage of absent fathers are.

I wish an independent body would do some research to find out exactly how widespread this problem is. It just seems that an absent parent has the right to have as little or as much involvement with their kid's lives as they choose. And so it's very much left down to the personality and priorities of the individuals - there doesn't seem to be a baseline norm where society says: "this is the least we expect of you".

You're not being unreasonable Nightowl, he's an arse. But I think if you accept that he's an arse and you're going to have the lion's share of responsibility, it becomes emotionally easier to manage. Once you've come to terms with the fact that you're the only adult in this relationship with your children, you can get on with it without feeling constantly irritated by this wanker sitting on the sidelines carping. You can't change his callous behaviour, but you can change your response to it. And agree with Bugsy's list. It might help to do the Alvin Hall thing of logging a whole month's expenditure day by day, which will throw up a lot of hidden spend that you might not count. Food, fuel, utilities - they all cost invisible money.

Freckle Wed 27-Jul-05 11:19:12

Is there some reason why the CSA isn't involved? Wouldn't he have to pay 15% of his income for one child? Which would probably come to a darn sight more than £20pw.

Lizita Wed 27-Jul-05 17:23:49

Wow I feel for you Nightowl. I am not in a situation like that at all (dd's father lives overseas) but I just wanted to second what Caligula said about your response to it and accepting what he's like. I spent a lot of dd's first year feeling depressed that she didn't have a father (here, that is) and that I was having to do it all by myself, but once I accepted it and realised that I COULD do it by myself my attitude changed completely and I 've been a lot happier since. I know it doesn't compare to your situation, but I'd be tempted to throw my hands up and not expect anything of him any more!

spursmum Wed 27-Jul-05 17:37:59

I find that life is a lot easier since i gave my ds' father the ultimatum of "regular visits of you're gone". Now i dont have to deal with explaining to everyone why he doesnt turn up( they all know he is a c**t..scuze my language). I swear absent fathers get it into their head that they don't have kids anymore. Get rid of him and start concentrating on being both parents to your kid. I swear it will make life easier with no stress!!!

northerndad Thu 28-Jul-05 01:13:53

Hi Nightowl, read of your woes from this morning and must agree with the responses, they all sound about right. Seems they were all from women in similar situations though. I've been a single parent for 11 years and found my ex to treat the kids as things she would only bother with when she felt like playing mum. Yes, I am a bloke left with three kids. I think the trouble with a lot of absent parents, but certainly not all, is they often only want to play at being a parent even when they've been part of a settled family. They simply can't face the responsibility that being a parent needs. This must be far worse for men who father unplanned children as it takes a lot of growing up that many can't do, took me a while as I was a dad at 19.
Whatever the history with your ex its up to you to be both parents for as long as you need to, don't rely on the ex until he proves the importance of his child to him regardless of his relationship to you or anyone else.
As far as money goes, its always hard while the kids are young. You are entitled to whatever the going rate is, but its never enough even if you can work part time. The CSA are slow but they should beable to get you something unless your only on benefits, as I was for a long time, in which case they keep any declared maintenance.
I've babbled on enough, but I must add that going back to when I was first left with the kids I really didn't think I could handle it. The main thing that kept me focussed was that I had to, there was no option. Looking back now I'm amazed how it all came together, when I thought it was falling apart. Your kids depend on you and they will become whatever your relationship makes them. If their father can't accept his responsibility to them thats his problem, you don't have to make it yours or your kids. He should have access to them as children grow up better having a good relationship with the absent parent, (it took me a long time to accept that one), but on your reasonable terms. If he doesn't want to be involved in their lives that's his loss more than anyone elses. Make your list and you'll get a shock as to how much it costs. Your ex will get an even bigger shock but that may not be whats needed to change his outlook going by his form. Don't just appear to be a set of bills as many of us cherish money more than the best things in life.
You and your children may well be the best things that will ever happen to him, and he needs to see that, then he might treat you as you deserve, regardless of your relationship. Otherwise concentrate on the kids and their future and have a good life, the rest will come together

Libb Thu 28-Jul-05 06:58:14

Nightowl, I really appreciate you starting this thread. I have split from my ex and am currently still having to live under his roof whilst I try to sort out alternative arrangements.

I guess I have been mentally psyching myself up recently for future disappointment/resentment because I do not have any faith that ex will prove his worth. I feel right now that I would rather cut him out completely because, as northerndad said, some fathers (especially unexpecting dads!) don't have the maturity to understand their importance in their childs life - however DS needs his dad and this thread has made me realise that I will just have to roll with the possible disappointments as I go along.

I could be wrong, ex could prove to be an amazing dad and strong role model for DS so I will watch this space! (great idea about logging costs too, will certainly be doing that one!)

Thanks Nightowl xx

(right, off to work now - heyho)

Carla Thu 28-Jul-05 07:08:02

Nightowl, £20 a week? FFS!!!!

Haven't read all of this thread, but took dds into town on Monday, all of three miles. £4 return fare. How's that for starters?

Is he living in the real world? Or does he just know how many beers £20 would buy? Sooooooo angry on your behalf. Don't let him brainwash you. You know you're right.

Catsmother Thu 28-Jul-05 16:43:28

Hard, awful and utterly unfair though it is, you are going to have to accept - for the sake of your own sanity - that you simply cannot rely on this "man" for anything. That means that even in emergencies, you have to try to find someone else to help you - without even bothering to ask him as you know what the answer'll be, and you don't need to be stressed out any further. That means, planning weekends / holidays / celebrations to the best of your abilities without "hoping" that he'll help out - because if you do (hope) you are just setting yourself up for a fall.

I know it's easier said than done. My ex was pretty useless - though admittedly not as bad as yours - and to be fair, I have found that as our son got older he seemed more willing to spend time with him (oh - the luxury to "pick and choose" eh !). However, there have been many many times that my ex has farted about and through his thoughtlessness my plans have gone out of the window. That is why I recommend "going it alone" if you possibly can - even though that is so unfair, because at least then you'll know that you & your child won't be let down.

If your ex objects to this - though from what you've said I'd guess it's unlikely - explain to him calmly that you have no intention stopping him seeing his child but there have been so many disappointments and so much inconvenience caused by him that from now on he has to fit in with you - not the other way round. I appreciate it's bloody hard when you are - literally - left to cope on your own ...... my ex moved 2 hours away so was even more useless in emergencies as he had the ready excuse of distance as well, and I never got any help with my son from family either. Illness and accidents were just about coped with by the string of my teeth ..... goodness knows how I managed to cling onto my job ..... and god, the whole thing made me so angry, but you will get through it.

I honestly believe that when our son was younger it was a case of out of sight, out of mind for his dad. I tried to deal with it as "politely" as I could, trying to be "assertive" but not "fish-wifely" about it, so I could at least continue to occupy the moral highground ! I admit I nagged relentlessly, but instead of calling him an irresponsible, lazy, selfish, thoughtless, unreliable you know what (which he was), tried to come at it from our son's perspective ..... emphasising how much he missed him, how he was looking forward to seeing him etc. When he cancelled plans last minute, I laid it on really thick about how much our son was disappointed and kept on and on until guilt got the better of him and he committed to something else.

Obviously - I shouldn't have had to do any of that, but what else can you do ? It infuriated me - and still does - that there seems no legal redress to "force" absent parents to take their responsibilities seriously (then again, there is much wrong with many areas of family law). My son is now a teenager and though, like I said, his relationship with his dad does seem to have improved in one respect, it's also telling that my son has made several very telling remarks about the irresponsible aspects of his dad's attitude lately - now he's older he can understand things for himself much better.

Oh - and irrespective of whether he wants to properly share his child's life, for god's sake, get the CSA onto him. £20 pw is outrageous ... and he thinks he's doing you a favour !!! No way should you have to justify your expenditure to him (might be different if he was giving you £200 pw and your child was scruffy).

suddensingledad Thu 28-Jul-05 20:35:23

I've enjoyed reading all this. It's a pretty rough deal when you love someone then come to realise that they're a shite parent, and probably will never change. My ex now sees our three children in a contact centre, yet seems to be ok with this as, I think someone earlier has mentioned, she can be a happy mum for a short burst without the responsibilities of being a 'real' parent. I tried the waiting for her to take responsibility and contribute positivly to the children's welfare, but there comes a time when you do have to accept that you will have to be both parents to your children. And that's when you do what you have to do, court orders with attached contact order, and CSA it's ass. It's the only way to bring order to chaos. If you don't do this then your not being fair to yourself and your children.
I recently gave up my career to care for my three young children full-time. It's the best move I've ever made as they are a joy, and its the most rewarding job I've ever had. Lonliness can be a bummer sometimes, but in the end you'll have the last laugh (with your kid(s))

nightowl Sat 30-Jul-05 02:01:03

havent checked this thread for days! well his dad phoned up tonight, at 8.30 and asked if he could have him. i said no, that we already had plans. i had ordered us a takeaway (rare friday treat!) 8.30 though...bit late to be making arrangements really. ds was playing with a friend and i didnt want to suddenly uproot him at this time.

its not that im not used to this kind of thing. dd's dad left me three months pregnant and has never seen her. we never even had an argument when we were together, he just left. i dont understand why but then i know he never wanted her anyway. so although i think he's hateful, i possibly dont get as annoyed with him if that makes any sense...i dislike him more but can understand (although not excuse) that you cant miss something youve never known.

ds's dad is a different matter. it was HIS idea to have a child. i always thought he would be such a good dad. when we visited friends he would spend all his time with their children! at the time i thought this was the sign of a person with a lot of love for kids...now i realise he was just on more of an intellectual level with them. (sorry, that was catty but true, he's never been the brightest spark).

when we met he was 21 and he had had a really bad childhood. his stepfather had beaten him and his mother and it seemed all the people he loved had been taken away some way or another. although i sympathise with this and believe me when i say i know how it feels, its no excuse for how he treats his son. he would cry to me (at age 21) about how his dad would leave him waiting and never turn up...yet he does exactly the same to ds. he should know better than that. surely we should learn from how our parents treated us and not do the same?

there's no point contacting the CSA either. 18 months on and they havent gained a penny from dd's dad...and i HAD all his details. when i was on benefit last year after the redundancy they took details of ds's dad and they didnt do a thing, not that i was concerned as he paid me this £20 anyway (it doesnt go far but i was being lenient on him i guess)...maybe i still felt sorry for him, who knows.

you know what REALLY riles me? that there are so many men out there with awful exes who stop them having contact for no good reason at all (dont shoot me down, i know this happens)...some men fight and fight for access...my ex has this and doesnt want it!! we were together until ds was 18 months and he can just seem to walk away and not miss him...i dont know how he can do it.

i know im too overprotective of ds at times, he was so ill in his first five years and i thought i had lost him so many times that now im almost afraid to let him do anything because of his heart (silly, doctors told me not to stop him doing anything a normal child would do) but the fear is very real...and in the middle of the night, knowing that there's only me to make the decisions is terrifying. i think it stems from his asthma attacks, they would always be in the early hours...i think thats why i dont sleep now. i was so used to watching him until after 3am which seemed to be a "safe" time that now im rarely asleep until after 3am.

anyway, im rambling now. i just wish there was some way i could give this bloke a big shake and make him realise what he is missing. maybe one day he will grow up. he has a new baby now, he brought her here the other week but just left her in the car and didnt even look at her...so it seems its not just ds.

nightowl Sat 30-Jul-05 02:04:29

btw, its really nice to hear the mens point of view on this too, thanks!

essbee Sat 30-Jul-05 02:13:07

Message withdrawn

nightowl Wed 03-Aug-05 02:15:46

here's a good update for you.....

well ds's dad picked him up sunday and despite my phonecalls (because lets face it, he never phones me) ds didnt want to come back here.

yesterday he didnt want to come back and when i phoned him today and reminded him of his self defence type lesson he told me he was staying with daddy.

ok, no problem.

five minutes later his dad phoned saying he was bringing him back. ok, no problem again.

he came back, i asked him if he had any tea, he said he wanted to say goodbye to daddy. next thing i know he is in the front garden crying. so i went out and he told me he wanted to come home as he was bored but "missed daddy".

now my son, although very sensitive, hardly ever has and hardly ever does cry. i would say he cries 4 times a year at most...and this little boy was breaking his heart outside my house tonight.

so i told his dad why he was crying...ok ds didnt TELL me this but i know, it was because he doesnt know when he will see his dad again. i told his dad that this was HIS fault and we should arrange a time and day that he will pick him up unless otherwise stated. his dad, for once, went very quiet and thoughtful and i hope that it sunk in.

bear in mind that since we split up, his dad has hardly bothered with him and now suddenly he is having him to stay days on end. it is confusing ds.

now all dads will think im the bitch mother from hell but i will not have ds upset like this.

he either has him on a regular basis in future or its better that i stop contact. i cant put my son through this...for ds to cry its pretty bad.

bear in mind again that his dad has had 6 1/2 years to get himself in order.

so im giving him three months. in this three months he has to pick up ds on a regular basis, on the day and at the given time. i reckon it will take that long to make ds realise that his daddy will do this. all i expect is one day a week, either for a couple of hours or to stay the night. if he doesnt stick to this agreement im going to seek legal advice.

oh and btw, i worked it out...ds costs me £80 a week. thats based on my calculation over the year..cheapest food and cheapest clothes and doesnt include bills...so he should think himself lucky!!

northerndad Thu 04-Aug-05 01:09:02

hi nightowl,
you're right ds needs stability, and you need to know he isn't stressed by contact. the hard bit is making pick up/drop off as casual for ds as you can. a welfare officer said not to make them feel like milk bottles being put out, thats not easy when you want to strangle the ex. you have to reassure ds that he will see his dad again. you do need to insist on regular times that ds can look forward to and prepare himself for. be prepared to be let down, but you knew that anyway, as you have to smooth things over with ds so he doesn't feel unwanted, have a plan b. whatever happens, you've got the worst job until it settles down. in the long run, contact usually is best even if ds only learns he can't rely on his dad. theres always the risk ds will resent you for keeping them apart, it happens.
I'm sorry theres a lot of 'you need to's' in here and no you're not the bitch mother from hell.

aloha Thu 04-Aug-05 08:24:05

No not all men are like this and you aren't expecting too much.
My dh has lived apart from his daughter (not his choice) since she was nearly five (she lived with him for more than two years after her mother left).
He calls her every day, she stays with us every other weekend (wishes it was more but mother won't allow it), he pays more than the CSA told him too (was paying the same amount voluntarily but the ex got a bee in her bonnet about the CSA) etc
I'm sorry your ex is so horrible and unreliable.
However also agree that it might be a bad idea to be the one who prevented contact just because your ds might not understand why.
Don't understand how any parent could just walk away from their child.

nightowl Thu 04-Aug-05 22:52:21

its just a thought at the moment aloha, the contact thing. i never rush into anything so no worries there yet. i would never stop contact to be spiteful or for some silly little reason. its just that this "on" "off" "on" "off" thing his dad seems to have going on really is not helping ds. he's wanted his dad to take some interest in him for so long and then suddenly he does then takes it all away again. to me that's more damaging than not seeing him. dont get me wrong...i would never try and pretend his dad didnt exist or that he isnt his dad anymore...but if he doesnt sort himself out it may be better for them to not see each other until this man has sorted his head out properly. ive never seen ds this distressed about anything before. its not something im happy to see.

nightowl Thu 04-Aug-05 22:59:50

and i dont ever slate his dad in front of him...i tell him his dad loves him very much although he may not show it...even if i do give him a verbal roasting when no-one else is listening!

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