Thursday, March 15, 2007

Priorities and Perspective=Solution

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

This was sent to Aunt B via email...

In March of 2005, before Anthony and I were together, he met a girl on an online dating service. They had a one night stand. A few days later he emailed her and told her that he didn’t feel it would work and he didn’t want to see her again. The next day she told him she was pregnant. Anthony was honest with her from the very beginning by telling her that there was no chance they would be together. He tried to convince her that abortion or adoption would be best based on the situation. When she insisted on having the baby he told her he would support her decision and pay her support, etc. She continued to “fatal attraction” pursue him. He maintained he wasn’t interested in her. Shortly after this Anthony and I met hit it off and I moved in. This enraged this other woman. She fought with Anthony her entire pregnancy. She refused to give his son his last name. She named the baby Cooper because Anthony told her he didn’t like it. She told him he wouldn’t be allowed in the delivery room (later she did allow it). Once the baby was born she did everything in her power to keep Anthony from the baby. She would only allow him to visit the baby in her home and only for an hour at a time. They both got attorneys. Anthony fought to see the baby 4 times a week for the hour she would allow. Once his attorney sent her a letter requesting 2 hour visits to take place in our home she packed up her house, yanked her 6yr old twins from school, and moved 6 hours away to her mother’s house to keep Anthony from seeing his son. The child is 13 months old now and still lives far away. Anthony has been seeing the child once a month for 3 days for 5 hours each day. The mother is still horrible to deal with. We are married with a baby due in May. This is negatively affecting our home life now too. Here is the dilemma: Anthony is seriously considering cutting ties from his son. He would continue to send child support but would not see him or his mother anymore. He believes this would minimize the stress and turmoil that we believe is endless. We believe that the mother will never come around and allow this to be anything but dysfunctional. Anthony doesn’t want to continue to allow the mother to cause us trouble. As it is, she only allows short visits not parenting time. He doesn’t know what to do and I feel like my opinion is biased. He’s hung up on the “what if”. What if this decision hurts the baby? What will other people think? Would this make him a “dead beat” dad? At the same time he feels like his priority is with us, his current family. He wants to make a decision soon because right now the baby wouldn’t know the difference if he didn’t see Anthony anymore but later on that won’t be the case. This has morally got him tied in knots. Any advice or insight would be helpful. D.H. of W.F.

Aunt B said...

Dear D.H.,

Hmmm, You've got me feeling this one. There's not much of an answer here but a solution you can all live with. There are too many variables and at least one little persons life at stake, possibly two with your own unborn child. I do not take this lightly. In fact, it makes me wanna run for higher ground but I won't run and neither should you. Let's start with this definition of a deadbeat Dad;

Noun 1. deadbeat dad - a father who defaults on his obligation to provide financial support for his offspring deadbeat, defaulter - someone who fails to meet a financial obligation

This is societies definition. We can never give everything we want to give, to our children but we should try to show some responsibility. Even if, you guys are in a pickle and you must curtail some payment to this child, never stop completely and always keep receipts. I am not encouraging you to stop payment but if you have to minimize, try to pay something every month, it at least shows effort on your part. If you can't afford to send something as a good will gesture, you can not afford to buy luxury items, upgrades and the like. Remember this. I am not implying that he is not looking at his life responsibly, only making a statement for future reference. It is important, for your husband to realize his financial obligation and I believe he is. It is important for you to take him as he is, for richer for poorer. You can not refuse the past, his past but you can take control of it. It looks like he is trying...kudos!
My gut feeling is this; this chick is using his son as a pawn. She is bitter and trying to make it as difficult as possible for him to maintain ties. I think he has gone above and beyond and in many respects, this is commendable.
This is an all around bad situation, especially or rather, in many ways for you. Your husband needs to set some restraint on the situation with the ex/one niter, I agree with you both.
Take control back. I would not say that it is selfish of you to want your husband's time and devotion to go to you and your unborn child. He needs to concentrate his efforts in your direction...for a time. I really feel that you need to keep yourself as stress free as possible. Is it possible that to curtail the visitation or better yet, place it on a minimum level for now might be the answer? It may serve a multi-purpose.
I'm all about realizing we have choices in everything we do or have done. We often do not realize, those choices, till things are said and done. But if we have a,
"before catch," meaning if we realize we have choices before we do something stupid or regretful, we are more in control. In addition to this, when we look in the mirror and do not lie to ourselves but stand true, we are able to see any overcast or stumbling blocks, that may very well hinder us, emotionally. Emotionally, this woman is hindering you both, not their son but the mother. By taking back control and calling the shots, you set the agenda. As I said before, I believe his efforts need to be, to that which is important, right now. That would be your unborn child. I truly believe that if you have a stressful pregnancy it may affect the child. Call me daffy but this is just life experience, not medical fact, that I know of. To be able to enjoy your birthing/newborn experience, you must realize the importance of it and calibrate by it.
I do not think he should cut all ties, as it will and can be used against him later. It will be thrown in his face. There is a way around that though. He needs to keep an open file,literally and figuratively, all about his son. If he sends $5 to his son, even if it seems petty, he needs to have record of it. When he can not visit, he should call and own the conversation. Simple and brief, asking only about the well being of his child, she does not need to know his business. You want things amicable but you may have to view it as a business venture. He should write down a brief on each and every conversation, date and time. In a legal aspect, he is doing his part, I know from experience, by making these ,
"caring calls."
You did not tell me if either have custody of the child or if the court has been involved at all? If they have, he must abide to the letter or go back in front of the judge for modification. If he was given or granted visitation and he varies from it, he can be held in contempt. If no court intervention has taken place, assuming his name is on the birth certificate, he has as many rights as she does and may call the shots within reason. If he wants to visit, he needs to give 48 hours notice and she needs to try to accommodate the visit, without excuse and within reason. He will only keep this upper hand, if he stays in touch, concerning the welfare of his son. If you asked me, I would tell you that the early years are more important, the child being, primarily with the mother. I think he could afford to step back and regroup for the sake of your child, together. You did ask my opinion and I am going to tell you what I feel. I am not a legal expert but can only tell you what I have learned through life experience. To cover all bases, let me say this;
I feel that a child needs the influence of two parents. But anything you say or do, give or take, can and will be misconstrued by all or any of your children. There is no such thing as perfect parenting. All you can strive to do is instill good values and a belief system that will sustain them and hope that they become sound citizens.
In days gone by, the mother stayed home and the father worked. See, it's not so much about the quantity of time but the quality, using your time together in a constructive manner. Back then, the father often had one day, usually Sunday and he spent it at home, hopefully with his children. It is not so much or so important to spend every waking moment with your child but using and utilizing the time you do have together to instill what is important; your values and beliefs. It can be a time for teaching. But this can go on later, when his son is older.
This letter is to you. You feel guilty because you need the attention of your husband. Do not feel guilty, as you have a right and valid need. You are married to him and his first priority is you and your unborn child. He is torn between being a good father to his son and a good husband, right now. I say, he can do both but his main concern should be to you and your baby. He must have a strategy to make this work. Why not tell the other mother that right now, he needs to direct himself differently. If he says it any other way, it may be spit back in his face. He can call, concerning his son. He can send a check specifically noted, for the purchase of pictures. I think the important thing, is for him to realize that he can call the shots and to stand firm. He can not allow this woman to infiltrate his or your space. Own the situation, take charge for the sake of all involved. We need more men, like your husband, who actually have a real concern for their children. Tell him to read this. Tell him to step back, we're gonna punt here. He must prioritize things. His son does not need to take a backseat to his new child. The child in his heart, is his son and he can not help how the mother is.
Sometimes, unfortunately, it takes a lifetime to realize that a parent was trying, they were there if only in spirit and they were loved. But it is important to put things into perspective and have priorities. It is a survival instinct to want to walk away from a painful situation, is it not? This relationship, with this ex, is volatile and she is using it, thus far, to her advantage. Now, I'm telling your husband, to set the plays, call the shots and be the quarterback. If he takes charge and tells her like it is, he has been more than honest. If it is not within the scope of things, to visit, he needs to call and inquire. He should continue to send something in the form of support, I don't care if it's $10-$20-$30, it shows that he is trying and just like a creditor, they can not refuse, even a small payment and they can not hold it against you. But you blow it off and it will blow up in your face. Making an effort can never, ever be hurtful, right? Even on a minimal, level, which I recommend, you can't be called on it and your child can never think, years down the road, that he was not loved.
All we can try to do, is love our children, make sure they are attended to and provided for. He does owe his son this, does he not? But that does not mean has to cow tow to an unreasonable mother, who is only trying to hurt him and hit him where it hurts. I'll feel a whole lot better, if he puts her ass in place and realizes, he does in fact have rights that go along with his obligation.
He may write a formal document, sent registered mail, with the contents of his intention. Within the scope of this letter, he may make it clear that he does not want to speak with this woman on a personal level but only about the welfare of his son. Make it known that she has made it nearly impossible for him to visit his son and to have a sound relationship. Then, he must tell her, that for the moment, until she has a change of venue, he must curtail the situation. See, this now puts the accountability on her. She will see that she is to blame, if the child does not have constant visit. You have covered all bases. Keep a copy of the letter, in the file, along with the phone log and any and all support, gift, etc. payments.
I hope you have a good life. It sounds like you have a good man and you both are trying to do the right thing. Please let me know how this all goes down. If I can help you in any other way, you are welcome to write. I pray you have a healthy child and are able to enjoy this pregnancy, birth and the experience of it all. Be good to yourself.

Big Love,

Aunt B