Shelby - posted on 10/20/2012 ( 1 mom has responded )
I have 2 girls aged 4yrs and 2.5yrs. Their father and I divorced 2 months after #2 was born and he has not been a regular part of their lives. He became very unstable and many issues have since come out of the woodwork (depression/recently diagnosed with borderline personality disorder/heavy hard drug addiction/homelessness...the list goes on...it is basically how he lived his entire life other than when he met me and we were together) I tried to work with him at first because I wanted my children to be able to know their father and have never spoken a negative word about him (to them!) because I don't want them to see our situation as negative or something to be ashamed of. I gave him multiple chances to become a positive, regular influence in their lives but every time he ends up deciding he's too bored in our area or lonely etc... and decides to roam all over the country visiting friends, being homeless, getting drunk/high, and being a bum (literally). I have received less than $1000 child support in over 2 years (how much has he spent on drugs/cigarettes/booze), when given the opportunity to call every Sunday (his mom bought him a cell and pays the bills) he declined saying he wouldn't remember.
The first time he left town after our divorce, my eldest was a total mess, she regressed with her potty training (which lasted a whole year) was crying for him all the time and I saw a definite change in her self-esteem. She has finally gotten over it and (I think) forgotten him somewhat. She still knows who he is but doesn't think about him almost at all and it no longer bothers her that he is not in her life. It took a long time to get to this point and she is finally starting to come out of her shell and get back to the happy, self-assured girl she once was. My youngest doesn't have any bond with him at all, knows who he is if she sees a picture (because her sister tells her) but doesn't miss him because she never was attached to him.
We now have an amazing, patient, caring (can't say enough good about him really!) man in our lives who has been living with us for close to a year now. This man has been more of a dad to these girls and a partner to me than their bio father ever was. We have spoken about the future and plan to marry eventually (after we buy a house...2 year plan) and he is happy and ready to be their father figure and male role model. We have a wonderful, calm, happy, loving family together and my children do not lack anything (material or emotional).
Recently, after not hearing from the bio father in 7 months, he started texting me very strange messages about how he was going to die (from heroin) and how sorry he is etc...Well he did not die and a few weeks after that he told me he had an epiphany and is now sober and wants to live close and be in our childrens lives (not the first time he's had this "change of heart") He actually has moved 3 hours away (living in a van and bumming for money or on welfare, both probably) and insists he wants to be in their lives and that he is a changed man. I told him I was not comfortable putting my childrens emotions and metal health at risk again and that if he wanted to see them he would have to be sober, working or at school,have a steady place to live and doing very well for a minimum of 6 months (since he usually can't stick anything out very long). He agreed, but a week later sent me another very long and strangely worded text saying that everything is awesome where he is, he loves it, god wants him to be there (was never religious) and has started attending church, but can't find a place so he plans to be homeless (but seems to think that's a wonderful idea), he then asked if I would bring the kids to see him for an overnight visit in the next month (with no home, but more importantly, not even close to what we agreed on, I said after 6 month of doing great, not being homeless, and I tod him we would meet for dinner at a restaurant for an hour or two). I replied that he might want to check his mental health since his ideas came across as a fantasy he has made in his head and are not at all realistic. I also responded that we had an agreement and if he did not keep up his end I would not be required to keep up mine. He replied "God bless your family" and I haven't heard from him since other than a post he made on FB saying how great he is doing (again strange ramblings) and if only he could be allowed to see his children he could be at peace.
Now that you've read my ridiculously long story, here's my question; Should I even allow this man a chance? It is not as if he hasn't had a second and third etc..chance, every time dissapointing and hurting my girls. At this point, him being gone does not affect them and there's a very excellent chance they will grow up with a wonderful daddy. I feel they are so young (the smallest didn't want anythin g to do with him his last visit and instead, stayed very close to my partner in another room by her own choice). I feel stability is a huge factor in the way a child develops and they have that. I think that allowing him to be in their lives is putting them at risk for emotional distress. They also might be exposed to a standard of living that I work very hard to keep them away from. He has never been abusive or used drugs around them but is very unstable and you never know what someone like that is capable of. As a child I grew up mainly with my mother and while we were poor, she is a woman of culture and class and taught me proper morals and standards, however, while visiting my father I was exposed to unstable moods, trashy (sorry but true) people, drinking, and basically just a lifestyle that I do not consider acceptable (definitely not a good example). I strongly believe it would have been better for me to not have known him, and had to deal with everything I was put through and exposed to. At the moment, I am 100% aware and in control of what my children are exposed to, their quality of life, and the influences around them. I honestly believe they are not missing out on anything, and are so young that when they grow they will not question our life, they will know my partner as their daddy (probably all they will remember) and have a full life, free from the instabiltiy and chaos that follows my ex. I do feel bad about it a bit but I am trying to only think of the best interests of my children, not my ex as they are my #1 concern and he is not my responsibiltiy. I feel that after an amount of time, you should lose your chance. I tried to work with him but his own actions have put him in this situation and now I think it's best for everyone if he just disappears again. Am I wrong? Has anyone else lived through a similar situation? Has anyone else lived through a similar situation, made a decision,and can report the results? This is a very big deal and will affect the rest of my childrens' lives. My instincts tell me too keep him away but I can't help but have some compassion for the man (there is good in there, but is it worth risking my childrens emotional developement to see which side of him will win?) Sorry this was so long... it is really stressing me out and consuming my thoughts (even when he's not fully around he brings such a negative and stressful effect). Thanks!
Oh! I do have sole custody already (with no visitation except at my discretion).