Non custodial mind games...... - FamilyEducation
Non custodial mind games......
12/15/2008 at 14:29 PM

I'm wondering if there are any of you moms (or dads) out there going through a similar situation.  My grandson's father has never really been a regular part of his life since he's been born.  And, although my daughter got a child support judgment, l don't think that'll last much longer, since dad now claims to be working under the table, so nothing is on any books. 

I'm especially worried about the effects that the dad's non presence is going to cause my grandson.  Dad fought for visitation, but doesn't adhere to the court order, even when provisions are made to ensure that he can comply.  He prefers instead to play house with the new girlfriend and HER 3 year old.  He gives all kinds of excuses why he CAN'T come see the baby.  First it was work, then whatever else came up at the time.  However, when dad feels as though he's 'ready' to be a father to my grandson, my daughter is just supposed to say okay to whatever he wants.  Dad has fooled her with this before, only to have him stop showing up for the baby time after time.  Now, dad is threatening to come take the baby as per his 'visitation rights' and I don't want this to end up causing heartache for the baby.  Should my daughter try to have the visitation revoked?  Terminate his parental rights?  We live in PA and the laws are confusing and cumbersome.  Dad and my daughter were never married, so does that make a difference?  If he marries and she does not, will that have any impact on the situation as it stands?  He's supposed to take the baby every other weekend from 10 am Saturday to 6pm Sunday, and every other Saturday from 10am to 8pm, which he hasn't done for months.   We've been keeping a journal of when he come and when he doesn't, when he keeps in contact and so on.  Is there anything that can be done to ensure that my grandson does not have to pay the price for his father's lack of interest?  Right now, my grandson is just shy of 16 months old, so I don't think he understands the grvaity of the situation yet.  Unfortunately, he won't be too young forever.  Is there anyone my daughter or I could speak to?  Any input is welcome, especially from those living in the Philadelphia, PA area.  Thanks.

If your daughter was able to get an order for support, then the court recognizes this man to be the father. Failure to exercise his visitation rights are not grounds for termination of parental rights. Also, failure to exercise visitation under a parenting plan is not the same as violating a court order. You claim that you are worried about the fathers “non-presence” in the child’s life, yet you are asking if there is a way to remove his parental rights. When the father is ready to be a father, so long as it is his court ordered visitation time, he has every right to come and pick up his child. If there is no order stating that the father has to keep daily contact, then your journal will be of no use. The best thing that could be done is to encourage this father to become more active in his child’s life. I’m sure the mother would like to be completely done with him so she can move on and not have to deal with him. She should have thought about that 25 months ago. If the mother were able to successfully terminate the fathers parental rights I doubt she would stay single forever. Would she then be playing house with her new love interest, as you accuse the father of doing?

Would it be better then for the Dad to choose to be the child's father only when it is convenient for him to do so? Everyone in my family has given him ample opportunity to be around the child as much as he wants. I have personally given both of them a way to keep their distance from each other, to let me act as the liaison/ mediator so that the baby is not traumatized by their sniping. I have bent over backwards to give this 'man' the opportunity to be there in his child's life, which he has time and again shrugged off, telling my daughter that he is not bound by the visitation order that was set by the court. So we are to just give him carte blanch to do whatever he will whenever it strikes his fancy? And please save your breath about his 'rights'. If my daughter should have thought of the consequences, then so should he. I know that he has the right, he simply CHOOSES to ignore the child. I suppose that makes him father of the year? And, it should be said that having his rights terminated is ONLY a matter of last resort. However, the simple fact that he would play these games, knowing that his son's emotional and psychological well being ( in the long run) is at stake, tells me that he doesn't deserve to raise a dog let alone a child. Having said that, I myself would much prefer that Dad take a WAY more active role, if for no other reason than to have a break every now and again. I have gone against my daughter more than once on the Dad's behalf, only to have Dad disappoint. I hold no grudge against him, indeed, I love him like my son. But my grandson is helpless in the face of all this ridiculousness, and I will defend and protect him from anyone, including his parents, who would hurt him in any way.

Children need their parents. Unless there is abuse or emotional put-downs, any contact is better than no contact. The attitude of the custodial parent and other support people cannot focus on how things ought to be. That just rains on the parade. As for "is there anything that can be done . . .?" Appreciating the moments when the dad shows up will help. Being respectful when you talk about the dad will help. Later, when the child grows up and starts to think "I deserved better," acknowledge that. I'm suddenly reminded of a bible quote, "the parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge." If there is a grandpa or uncle who could be a dependable presence that will help. The thing that would make things worse is if the child's remaining parent divided her attention by seeking a new romance/having more children. Talking trash about the dad will also make things worse. I am sorry that you and your family have to put up with such disrespect, and that this little boy has to cope with his father's disdain.

Before I can respond to your reply I must ask that you clear something up. Is your daughter under the age of 18? Are you mentioned anywhere in the parenting plan as having any authority or decision making regarding the child? By your response it seems as if you have been granted some authority by the courts. If this is the case I apologize. It’s just that I have seen so many grandparents become over involved in this process. Unfortunately, many times they feel as if being a grandparent gives them the right to overrule the parents. More often than not, the grandparent’s presence actually causes more problems than it solves. Even though my final parenting plan states that the grandparents have no rights regarding the children, and no decisional making authority, they still try to do anything they can. I’m glad that this is not the case here. Most judges frown upon third party involvement.

something I saw in another discussion was that you don't tell the boy his dad is supposed to come, you just are there waiting. If the dad shows up then hooray! If he doesn't, you have plans to do something (or nothing) but you don't tell the boy he's being disdained by his dad.

I agree entirely with SnglDad. A third party involvement that is not a good idea at all. They tend to be powerthirsty subconsiously be it for whatever reason (i.e. parenting their daughter (in your case) wrong thus this new child is a second chance etc. etc. etc.). Grandparents are admirable for their love and care. I will give them that, only when they give too much or not enough, it can become a black hole of hatred eventually on the part of the child. If your daughter is under 18, support her, but not overly. Her dad yes, seems to be a complete sadistic man who needs to be put in his place, but you still have no idea of what goes on completely in his life. He was working under the table, what else is he doing that is illegal? Have you ever though he might be protecting the child? I understand that you have taken his side more then once only to be dissapointed but you have to remember that the child at this moment is only 16 months old. If you really cared about the longterm effects, you would have started fighting this very fight over 10 months ago. The half a year that the child had at that time would have constituted more then enough evidence that the father wasnt dependable. My advice at this point is to have the mother start dating again and get back into the game. Then once she finds the "real" man of her life, and they get married, the child will have a father. He wont even know its not his real dad unless you tell him. His real father could become his trusty "uncle". Or something along those lines. This new person involved will be the third party. Then you have no problem as you will be removed from the situation and everyone will feel better about everything. Unless the real father is vendictive. Then you might have a problem, but its still a shot. Good luck. And remeber to keep it simple, overcomplicating things is what alot of people who are in your situation tend to do and that is only like trying to paddle upstream with a straw. One its not going to work in the first place, but you'll still try while all the while making everyone in the boat believe that it will work, when in the end it doesnt and you all die in the crash down the falls.

"I agree entirely with SnglDad. A third party involvement that is not a good idea at all." Aaron F.....agreed. I'm wondering if you feel your daughter is capable of making decisions and express for herself what she would like in her child's life? Is she not an adult and capable of working things out with ex and finding resources outside the family for herself? As grandparents we want to slide right in there and ease the pain and protect. We can be supportive without taking over and controlling the entire situation by empathizing, being an emotional support and giving mom some breaks by caring for the child for a few hours on a reg basis. The message we give our own children when we take over is "you can't do this, let mommy do it." It makes even an adult child feel helpless. This is not the example you want to set for your grandchild.

First off, let me say thank you to everyone who cared enough to write in response to my question. It has given me a little more perspective on things, and different angles to consider. This particular topic has become a moot point though, as the father has pretty much told us himself that he wants nothing to do with the child. As soon as it becomes possible for us to do so, he won't have to worry about having to deal with the child in any way ever again. It hurts my heart to have this happen, but I could do nothing to have prevented it. Once again, thank you to everyone who offered support, or even derision for my stand on this particular issue. Take care. And pray for us all.