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Mother with sole custody very concerned about any contact from the father with drug/alcohol problems

Your Question:
Briefing: My sons father is 33 who has lost several job due to his drinking/drug problems, lost most of his friends and lost his house due to spending all his money on his bad habits.

My son's who is fixing to be two years old….His father has been in and out of the picture from day one mostly out, I thought he wasn’t ready to be a dad or that his Drug and alcohol use stopped him from being a dad. I tried to work with him on several occasions but he was unwilling. The first year of my sons life he visited him maybe 5 times and the second year he visited him a total of maybe 6 times. I would try to contact him for help with Finances he refuse to answer my call or return any of my message, he has proven to be a very irresponsible, selfish, person who is, has been and will continue to hurt my son. In the past he knowing abandoned our son. Not only did he abandoned but constant mistreatment our son. He said that he was using drug and he couldn't keep a relationship and he other lifestyle ...he choose the party life style.

I had to get a court order to force him to help me financially. He sign over Sole and legal custody of our son to me. (Which I'm thankful for)> In the order is has resonable visitation rights for the father.

He is a drug and alcohol abuser. I have try and try to get him to straiten himself out for our son but he refuse and choose not to visit our son, He said that he did want our son to see him the way he is. But recently he came over saying that he was ashamed of himself. I've asked him why he haven't tried/wanted to visit his son and why he decided to abuse and abandoned and he said I didn't want him to see me. Now he come to me after two years telling me that he wants to start being a part of our sons life, he decided now that he can love our son. You have to realize that I am one mother who believes in keeping my son away from heartache,tears,and therapy you had better believe I would do it to protect my baby until his father grows up and makes his son his first priority.To me any man that doesn't spend time with and financially support his child has serious "issues". It is so obvious that my sons father doesn't want the responsibility of a decent adult, and any chance he can find he blames me for his unwillingness to accept this new responsibility. He tell everyone that I'm the reason that he hasn't seen his son and I am a good person who has try over and over to get him to stop using drug and drinking I have never nor will I ever stop him from seeing his son. I have offered him numerous of times visitation schedules without me involved and he hasn't once choose one of them nor has he asked me for visitation. He has never asked to keep our son NEVER! He has never tried to work with me to have visits . It was his decision ALONE to completely cut-off his self from his son, not mine! He abandoned his son from the day he was born, and that just what it is abandonment. I I've suggested to him supervised visits, any loving mother would do the same>> until he can say and prove that he is ready to be a father and ready to make some level of self-sacrifice(Quit drinking/drugging) it is important for him to put son's needs ahead of his own ...I have asked him to stay clean before , during and after the visits with his son. Until he proves that he's willing to do that I suggested Supervised visits. But Then comes the truth he said that he is now dating someone with 2 kids and she wants to meet our son. How should I handle this. I'm complete confused he didn't want anything to do with our son, I thought he didn't want to be a dad this whole time now he is helping this other women raise another man kids. I believe he has selfish reason for now wanting to be a part of son's life. What do you think? what should I do?

He told me that this new women recently was caught cheating on her husband with her brother in law of course he left her now she dating my sons father ...OMG. I don't know what to do. Neither one of them sound like good role models for my son.

It is unfortunate that He couldn't straighten himself out for the sake of his son, but that is the sad part about alcoholism/drugs. Some people will not seek help until they have hit rock bottom, ruining their relationships, their children, their jobs...their homes...even then, they will still continue to drink/drug. But now that he has a new women in the picture he wants her to meet his son, He doesn't even know his son. He is definently not providing a very wholesome environment for our son and he is not living a very wholesome life .

What he is doing to our son is selfish , very unkind and to say the least very immature . My son doesn't deserve ,never did, to be forgotten about and doesn't need to see or know that about his father drinking/drugging all the time. What should I do about him now wanting because he new women suggested to see his son? He claims that he no longer uses Drug, and recently his new girlfriend sent me an email threaten me and accusing me of stopping their relationship, he never before wanted anything to do with our son, She also said that one way are the other they were going to get rights to our son. What do do?

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My Answer:

Thanks for your note. We have a new winner for the longest email I've received!

You advised me in another messsage (not posted) that you yourself don't have any major issues. Then, if everything you're saying is true, I agree with your attitude about what's best for your son. Unfortunately, doing the right thing isn't always the easy route.

The easy route would be to toss your son around like a doll, let the father play with him on whatever whim the father has, and let the father return him whenever he wants. This is easy, because it'll make your life easy. But, is it right? Of course not.

I think you're in a fair position to say that "Reasonable visitation" covers schedule as well as reasonable best interest. It is not "reasonable" for a drug/alcohol abuser to have much involvement with a child. It is not "reasonable" for a parent who has seen a child 11 times during 2 years to have significant involvement. It is "reasonable" to desire supervised visitation with the situation you described.

The only time unsupervised visitation becomes "reasonable" is when the father truly changes. I don't know how you measure that, or if you can. It would be reflected in the other parts of his life, I imagine, like ability to hold a job, ability to stay in a home for a while, ability to stay out of trouble, etc. I agree with you that rock-bottom is often a step necessary prior to recovery, but it's not always. It's possible for some people to catch themselves before rock-bottom.

If I were in your position, you who has sole physical and legal custody, I would sit tight. You control everything. I suggest that you pray for the father's recovery, and upon that recovery help him be a more involved father. But until the time that recovery happens, your child has no use for him.

I would convey a message to the father, explaining your concerns about his drug/alcohol issues and requesting that he enter a rehab program and then a parenting class, for you to truly believe that he's changed his ways Then, if he jumps through those hoops, I think you would owe him a smidgen of lee-way to see if he can handle fatherhood (and increase your trust as he earns it-- EARN being the key word).

If he takes you to court over this, I suggest you continue to stick to your guns. As sole custodian, you will ask the court to order regular drug testing on dad, along with supervised visitation until he shows that he's truly clean and devoted to this child's welfare, after which point you'll gladly discuss regularly unsupervised visitation with dad.

You're in a tough boat here, and I think it's worth consulting an attorney in your area... if you can't get a free consultation, it'll only cost you a few hundred bucks for an hour chat. On one hand, you have a duty to this child to protect him from the father you chose (never forget that we all picked our bad partners!). On the other hand, you never want a judge thinking that you have unreasonably and willfully kept a child from a parent. Reasonable is the important word here. If an attorney agrees with your perspective and attitude, then no sweat. But the attorney may also give you advice to protect yourself as well.

As to the girlfriend bothering you, write your ex via certified mail, and advise that none of his acquaintances should be contacting you for anything, let alone threatening you. If she continues to do it, you warned him about the inappropriate behavior, and you can use it against him in court to show he was an apparent co-conspirator or supporter of the harassment.

On everything else about him, I encourage you to find a way to let it go. You picked an awful man with whom to have a kid. Fortunately, the child has you, a concerned mother. Unfortunately, you (and all the rest of us) may have to pay the price of dealing with an unstable person until the kid is 18. The father sucks as a parent, he may always suck, and many of his decisions may always suck. Accept it, and move on. That's the only way to find peace with it.

I know there's Al-Anon for people related to alcoholics, if you find yourself needing support through the chaos. You need to understand that he WILL lie, he WILL make himself out to be the victim, and he WILL blame others. You WILL need to find a way in yourself to deal with all that.

As an aside, though you didn't ask for this advice and may already be doing it, I suggest that you find some strong male figures to play heavily involved roles in your son's life. Your brother, dad, etc. Kids need good role models of both genders with whom to be solid relationships.

Good luck with all this. Just keep doing what you know is right, and make sure you're also protecting yourself at the same time. AND... don't forget to support the father if he TRULY heals his demons; that would be a blessed day for all three of you.


This website gives common sense advice that is not intended to act as legal guidance nor psychological guidance. The author is neither an attorney nor licensed psychologist. For specific legal guidance or specific psychological guidance, consult with a licensed professional.

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