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Question
Posted by: Lesedi | 2011/06/09

The Daddy Button

My child’ s father left me when I was pregnant, after a 2 yr relationship. The words ‘ I’ m pregnant’  ended it. He then came back into her life when she was 1yr old, after I’ d gotten past some very difficult moments alone, including her 15-day stay in ICU for a bacterial illness. He then began paying a small amount of child maintenance for which I was thankful as I realise many mums get nothing.

She is 8 now and I’ ve allowed them to have a relationship, while trying my hardest not to feel bitter towards the man. However this will flare up from time to time because he is an inherent coward –  everything has to be perfect for him to step forward. If she is well, he will visit/phone. If she is ill, he backs away. If I am coping financially, he is visible in our lives. If I have a crisis and school fees are unpaid, he backs away. The time I was unemployed for 8 mths, he kept away. If I am very pleasant to him, he interprets this as an offer of intimacy and comes forward, pants down so to speak. If I openly reject his advances, he backs away muttering and stays away for weeks.

For him to step forward, there has to be gain of some sort and no demand on him to be a real man or a real father. If he asks to see her then happens to gets into a bad mood at work, he will cancel the visit. If he is dating someone who doesn’ t like his daddy status, he will stay away to please the woman. I have spoken to him about his cowardice –  he gets defensive and cuts the phone.

Throughout the 8 yrs I have never spoken ill of him to his child and she loves him to bits. They get on well and there is genuine love between them. However I am beginning into find the pretense exhausting –  for how long can I paint him as an angel? Shd I continue to speak well of him and just wait for the day she sees he is a fairweather dad? The sheer effort of keeping it up is beginning to exhaust me. Any tips on how to do so without 1) feeling like such a liar 2) feeling like I am in fact setting her up for bigger disappointment later when she sees his cowardice? What’ s the right approach? Will she someday just see it all herself? (for example, the day he fails to come to her school play because he met a young hot chick). How do I handle this man’ s on/off daddy button?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

You can and should go to the maintenance court and have the court decide how much much maintenance he should pay, and can compel him to do so should he later again lose interest in his responsibilities to you and the child.
he is not alowed to make his payment of maintenance ( which is his legal responsibility to the child ) to be influenced by whether he has access to her, or whether you provide him with sex on demand.
He sounds immature, selfish and indeed cowardly.
It's sad that good children so often love rather worthless people like him.
But stop painting him as an angel - he's far from that. Theres a significant difference between avoiding bad-mouthing him and sharing your understandable bitterness with the child, and lying to her about how good he is, when he isn't.
Let her recognize his selfishness, as there's a rsk she may in time blame herself for his absences, rather than reconize that's the sort of guy he is. She will eventually see through him, and it'll be more valuable for you to be available and credible then, rather than her worrying that you for some mysterious reason canot see his faults, and wouldn't understand her concerns.

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Our users say:
Posted by: cybershrink | 2011/06/09

You can and should go to the maintenance court and have the court decide how much much maintenance he should pay, and can compel him to do so should he later again lose interest in his responsibilities to you and the child.
he is not alowed to make his payment of maintenance ( which is his legal responsibility to the child ) to be influenced by whether he has access to her, or whether you provide him with sex on demand.
He sounds immature, selfish and indeed cowardly.
It's sad that good children so often love rather worthless people like him.
But stop painting him as an angel - he's far from that. Theres a significant difference between avoiding bad-mouthing him and sharing your understandable bitterness with the child, and lying to her about how good he is, when he isn't.
Let her recognize his selfishness, as there's a rsk she may in time blame herself for his absences, rather than reconize that's the sort of guy he is. She will eventually see through him, and it'll be more valuable for you to be available and credible then, rather than her worrying that you for some mysterious reason canot see his faults, and wouldn't understand her concerns.

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