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Question
Posted by: Newcomer | 2005/12/08

What to do?

I have a very difficult decision to make. I need someone objective to help me with it.

I am a divorced, single mother of a 4 year old boy. My ex does not pay maintenance and does not really make an effort to see my son or contact him. In the past year I think he saw him about 5 times. He lives in Durban which probably makes it difficult, but he can still call.

Anyway, my question to you is this - is it more harmful to my son to see his father, maby once in two months or not to see him at all?

My battle with my ex at the moment is for maintenance - and the courts will assist me with that - I do not want any other conflict - just what would be in the best interests of my son.

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Our expert says:
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The courts certainly ought to be able to help regarding maintenance, and to force him to pay what he owes. If the guy is so pathetic as to have so little interest in his son, maybe the boy isn't missing much by not seeing him. But rusty's right, that the important issue would be how they react to each other when they do get together. And an excelltn response from ......., too.
I'm not sure, though, whether everyone is actually understanding your question. My understanding wa that you are not considering preventing the father from seeing his son, but wondering whether the father's failure to maintain contact with his child could be harmful to the child. And your decision about involving the loving grandmother, especially under the circumstances you describe, sounds excellent.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Newcomer | 2005/12/09

That's right. The real question wasn't really whether I should decide "to be or not to be" but rather if the current situation is not harmful to my son. If it is, then the decision should be to rather avoid contact.

If I help my son to establish a (sort of) healthy relationship with his grandmother - he cannot possibly blame me one day if his father did not make an effort to see him. It should be up to him to make the necessary arrangements to see his son when he is spending time with his grandmother.

Reply to Newcomer
Posted by: Newcomer | 2005/12/08

There is a long history to this. I always tried to establish a good relationship between my son and his father. I even had a good relationship with my ex. For the past 2,5 years we actually got along fine. See, I felt sorry for him (everybody always does). He lost everything and had to move to Durban. He stopped paying maintenance and I was forced to move in with my parents. I still live with them, but managed to improve my financial situation (after I left him) and my son and I will be moving to our own home next year.

He, on the other hand (after living with his dad for 3 months) moved into his own flat, bought a new car and entertains a new girlfriend with a child.

He changed jobs twice while living in Durban and owes alot of money to people back in Pretoria (his former employer who he stole money from).

I accommodated him by drawing up an agreement between us saying that he had to pay a certain amount on a certain time of the month until he could afford to return to the original court order. He agreed to the amount and signed the agreement. No shit, he did not keep to it. Why? Because he abused the fact that we had a good relationship between us. I got sick of nagging - not just for money, but for him to at least try and call his son once in a while. I promise you, everytime my ex phones - my son would ask me "who is this". And only when I tell him it is his dad - his eyes would light up - and my heart would break into a million pieces.

Reply to Newcomer
Posted by: Friend | 2005/12/08

If he want to see his son, allow him to do so, but don't force him if he's not interested. If you deliberately keep him away from his son, you can get in some trouble, because divorced fathers has visitation rights, especially if they pay maintenance, which in your case he don't. This complicates your situation.

Reply to Friend
Posted by: Frusty | 2005/12/08

A very wise decision. One which your son will thank you for later on in life. As FIO says, give your son the opportunity to see for himself what his father is, good or bad.

You have made a very hard choice but in your heart, you know it is the right one.

Good luck.

Reply to Frusty
Posted by: Newcomer | 2005/12/08

I don't know if he is good to my son. I am not there to see and I don't want to involve my son by trying to get information from him. He is only 4.

I suppose when you doubt too much about the decision you are about to make, chances are you might not be making the right decision at all.

I don't like your advice, but it is probably because you are right. My battle is with my ex and there are other ways of dealing with that. He is a bad father. If he wasn't I would not be in a position where I had to make these decisions. I hate him for that. It is difficult to be objective. To seperate issues.

I am just getting tired of being the reasonable parent all the time.

The next plan is to not completely isolate my son from his dad, but to make his dad make a bit of an effort. My ex usually stays with his mother in Pretoria when he visits. My son is very fond of his grandmother and she adopted a little girl who is a year older than him so they really get along well. I always arranged visits/sleepovers with them and will continue doing so. My ex will have to make his arrangements around mine - so, it will be up to him whether he sees his son or not and I don't have to speak to him or see him again. What do you think of this?

Reply to Newcomer
Posted by: Birch | 2005/12/08

Laat hy toe om sy kind te sien, ek meen dit bly sy pa maak nie saak wat nie... Moet nie die kind as n speeldinge tussen die 2 van julle gebruik nie, DIT is onregverdig teen die kind.

Werk jou ex, en het hy polis en n pensieonfonds? Indien hy het se vir jou prokureur, die hof moet n hof bevel gee, om die onderhouds geld uit dit te vat. Dit is nou wettig dat die hof so iets mag toestaan..

Sterkte

Reply to Birch
Posted by: figured it out | 2005/12/08

When did you get divorced? Does your son know who his father is?

I do not think its a good idea to deny your son the opportunity to see his father, because oneday it might bite back at you. You dont want your son to grow up not knowing the truth about his father, which he can only get if you allow reasonable freedom to see him.

But one thing you must not do, is use your child as a weapon in your fight against your ex. Thats a recipe for disaster.

Think of your son, and do what is right for him. Stuff the ex, stuff themoney, stuff your battle with your ex, just focus on what is good for your son. He needs to know who his father is, good and bad.

Reply to figured it out
Posted by: ........ | 2005/12/08

Let your son see his father, regardless of the situation dont isolate the little boy from his father,. i believe the more contact the child has with his father the more the father will feel compelled to help, fight hate with love, love triumphs always, I know its not easy, but you must do it for childs sake and your own self esteem.

Reply to ........
Posted by: Frusty | 2005/12/08

The main question is, is he good to his son when he does see him? You cannot deny your son the oppertunity of getting to know his father. It has nothing to do with money, but everything to do with an emotionally stable child. Using him as a pawn to get the maintenance out of your ex will only damage the child, no-one else. It is very hard, but being a good mother and caring for your childs emtional needs is more important than money or getting back at your ex.

Reply to Frusty

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