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Question
Posted by: Samantha Gurtz | 2010-10-25

Confused and in need of guidance

My child is 8 years old and his father is a drug addict. For 5 years I have allowed my child to see his father during supervised visits and sleep overs with his Granny or Aunty to supervise. So he has spent a lot of time with his Dad and he loves him very much, although the father and I were never married and split before my son was born so my son has never lived with his father. Lately his father has been dissapearing for long periods of up to 4 months and each time my child is devestated and it takes me so long to get him settled and then his Dad comes back, says he is clean and the supervised visits start again. 3 months ago his dad went on anotehr binge and dissapeared. I decided that I could not let this carry on and decided that my son would not see his father at all until he can prove to be clean for at least a year before he see''s my son again. On Saturday after 3 months of no contact at all his father decided to pitch up at my son''s baseball game. My son was so excited to see him but I stopped him from talking to and having any contact with his father. My son was extremely hurt and is now blaming me for him not being able to see his dad. Am I doing the right thing by stopping contact completely and hurting my son or should I carry on with the supervised visits when his father is around and rather risk my child being hurt over and over again by the absence of his father? I thought I was doing the right thing but I am now concerned because my child needs to be able to trust in at least one parent... and now I feel I am breaking his trust in me by causing him to feel that I am stopping him from seeing his father.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

While we may all agree that the decisive factor in such situations should be the best interests of the child, it can be so hard to know what would actually, especially in the long run, BE in the child's bests interests.
With an alcoholic or drug addict, especially one who is Ok for stretches of time and then disappears on binges, its especially difficult.
I wonder what your son has been told ( by various people, including you and his dad ) and ( not the same as what he was told ) what he thinks and believes about his father. DOes he know about the addiction problems ?
Insisting that the father work to stay clean for some time before resuming ordinary visiting makes sense - but then its hard to prevent his suddenly turning up as he did on this occasion - and whatever you then do, can be very upsetting for the child.
If you had previously explained calmly to the boy WHY his father disappears and why you have good reasons for concern about this, it might have been easier for him to understand what happened and how you handled it.
And make sure you explain to the father how much his disappearances hurt the boy, and how, although the boy is still very forgiving about this, he should be very aware of how his druig choices are impacting on the boy.
Explain to the boy that you fear him being hurt by the unreliability of his dad, who is likely to disappear again and again. Maybe let the boy have input into your decisions - is he prepared to accept the likeliood that his father will be fine at times, but also disappear unpredictably, and the pain that causes him, for the pleasure of seeing dad at times when he's doing OK ?
Let him share the decision, rather than leaving him grounds for feeling that it is your meanness and unkindness that is forcing his loving dad from being around and visiting him, rather than understanding that it is his father's greater faithfulness to his drugs.
Childen are often better able than we adults, to distinguish between a person you may love, and their choices and actions which you may hate.

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9
Our users say:
Posted by: Avto-Slegmetty | 2011-01-27

Reply to Avto-Slegmetty
Posted by: Mom | 2010-10-26

My son is 15yrs old,his father and i broke up a few months after he was born.His dad was very imature(still is)and we fought alot even while i was pregnant, we were suppose to get married,but i just couldnt put my child through that . He didnt pay maintenance or help me in any way to raise our child and i was 19years old at the time and had to work 2 jobs at the time to raise my child, We fought so much even years after we broke up, but i never stopd him from seeing his child, I told him that he can see his boy whenever it suits us both...and told him that no matter what, i would never talk bad about him infront of our son, and will always teach my son to respect his dad,however, he should keep in mind tha our little babyboy wont stay little forever, and he will one day see for himself who and what his dad is...Sometimes i became so frustrated when my son just want to go to his daddy and speak about his daddy while i know what kind of a man he is,while i have to suffer on my own keeping him in school ..as my son got older and wiser,and through all the disappointments an broken promises of his loving daddy, he now doesnt even want to visit his daddy, still respects him , but knows now that he''s father is unreliable and he cant believe anything his father says,even when he does visit his father,he phones me the next day to pick him up, and the last time he even told his daddy why he does not want to see him no more...and i wont force my child to see his daddy if he now doesnt want to anymore.

Reply to Mom
Posted by: Girl | 2010-10-26

Please don''t take any legal action, unless your child was in danger (if the father was abusive or a threat in any way). I was involved in a legal situation when I was 10 and I felt everything was my fault. I was the victim but being forced to speak against the accused person in her presence was so hard to me. It was a nightmare. Children don''t need that.

Reply to Girl
Posted by: Girl | 2010-10-26

If I were you, I''d have a conversation with the father of the child rather than taking any decisions. Since he''s been seeing his son all those years, it seems he must love him very much. But sometimes addictions of that kind are hard to control. See if he''s willing to try a little harder. If not, the only reasonable option I see is to explain to your son that he has to learn to be patient because his dad loves him a lot and is doing his best. The best would even to have his father explain everything himself, in which case he could even explain WHY he needs to be absent for months etc.

As a mother, I would NEVER explain that to my child except if he specifically asked, because I find children don''t like to discover about those things through a third person. There''s even a chance that he knows exactly what''s going on but he choses to keep it for himself because it makes his bond to his dad feel stronger. Don''t say anything negative about his father. Let him see things the way he does. Even if he''s a little disappointed someday, he will still be grateful that you kept his picture of his dad pure. I don''t think he will hold it against his dad either. He will probably always love him, no matter what. Children understand more than we think.

Reply to Girl
Posted by: Whena | 2010-10-25

No I did not miss the part of the dad being a no good worhless piece of ...... (and I agree with it),.However the reason why I said it is that should she stop the dad from having access to the child (during one of his lucid periods) he can run to the court and make life difficult for her- please remember that these type of persons are master manipulator and b..shitters

I just think she must make a legal decision to stop his access- opefully if he sees that he wil lose access to his child it MIGHT wake him up. I also agree with both CS and Soul''s advice above- involve the child also

Reply to Whena
Posted by: Jordan | 2010-10-25

Excuse me Whena, but this is her child. She loves him more than anybody on this planet and only has his best interest at heart. Screw the courts, (pardon me) and his dad. And anyway, the courts would not allow him access anyway. HE IS A DRUG ADDICT, or did you miss that part?

Reply to Jordan
Posted by: Soul | 2010-10-25

Samantha I know where you coming from especially with regards to the dad. I was involved with one myself. I do not blame you for feeling the way you do. Your son loves his dad regardless of what the dad actually does. Although this doesn''t help you much when dad doesn''t take his responsibility to heart where his son is concerned, he needs to think of his son and what this is doing to him, his not the one looking into those little tear filled eyes and wondering where my dad is. I know this is very heart breaking for you, you ten to one are crying many a night yourself over your sons broken heart and him being let down so much by his dad.

Have you spoken to his dad and told him what affect his actions are having on his son.

Personally I don''t blame you and would have done what you are doing long time ago. Remember you are there to protect your son and as young as he is you do know what is best for him and are doing so out of love for him, one day he''ll understand that.
As for dad he needs to get his act togther and grow up and start being the father that his son needs.

Good luck

Reply to Soul
Posted by: Whena | 2010-10-25

You cannot decide when the father can see his child- only a court can

Reply to Whena
Posted by: cybershrink | 2010-10-25

While we may all agree that the decisive factor in such situations should be the best interests of the child, it can be so hard to know what would actually, especially in the long run, BE in the child's bests interests.
With an alcoholic or drug addict, especially one who is Ok for stretches of time and then disappears on binges, its especially difficult.
I wonder what your son has been told ( by various people, including you and his dad ) and ( not the same as what he was told ) what he thinks and believes about his father. DOes he know about the addiction problems ?
Insisting that the father work to stay clean for some time before resuming ordinary visiting makes sense - but then its hard to prevent his suddenly turning up as he did on this occasion - and whatever you then do, can be very upsetting for the child.
If you had previously explained calmly to the boy WHY his father disappears and why you have good reasons for concern about this, it might have been easier for him to understand what happened and how you handled it.
And make sure you explain to the father how much his disappearances hurt the boy, and how, although the boy is still very forgiving about this, he should be very aware of how his druig choices are impacting on the boy.
Explain to the boy that you fear him being hurt by the unreliability of his dad, who is likely to disappear again and again. Maybe let the boy have input into your decisions - is he prepared to accept the likeliood that his father will be fine at times, but also disappear unpredictably, and the pain that causes him, for the pleasure of seeing dad at times when he's doing OK ?
Let him share the decision, rather than leaving him grounds for feeling that it is your meanness and unkindness that is forcing his loving dad from being around and visiting him, rather than understanding that it is his father's greater faithfulness to his drugs.
Childen are often better able than we adults, to distinguish between a person you may love, and their choices and actions which you may hate.

Reply to cybershrink

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