Could an inconsistent father play a role in my child's behavior?

Natalie - posted on 08/12/2015 ( 4 moms have responded )




I have a 6 year old little boy who is with me 60% of the time (sometimes more). His father and I split in November 2012 when he was just 3 years old. At first the custody was working great..his father would have him every Thursday and every other weekend. His father is in the Army Reserves and has to report one weekend a month for duty (which we always schedule around) so we will be sure to rotate weekends so my son was not with me more than his dad. The agreed custody was every Thursday and then on his weekends his dad would have him from Thursday through Monday morning (when he had to drop him at school). Slowly over time he had to go into work earlier on Monday's so now he drops him off on Sunday's (sometimes mid-day or sometimes after dinner). I had agreed to this at first but when I talk to his dad about it now he says "were not changing it back cause I cant do that". I actually tracked my son's time with his father for the month of May and June and in 51 days my son saw his dad 9 times when it really should have been about 20 over nights. His father has lied to me about why he cant have his son on the weekends using the military as an excuse when in fact i have proof that he went off to party with is friends at the lake. My son plays hockey and his dad says that as long as he sees his son it doesn't matter if he have over nights. There is a lot of issues going on with his dad right now and my son has now seen his dad with his 5th girlfriend in 2 years. Recently my son has been acting out at summer camp, running out of the classroom, not listening to the teachers, he has hit other kids, and his temper is getting the best of him. So we pulled him from the summer camp and thought that time with his grandma (who has been such a great support to him) would be helpful to work with him on how to handle things he may not be happy with and his attitude. Is his fathers inconsistent presence something that could be playing a role in his bad behavior? I have tried spanking him (which kind of worked), we do time outs in the corner (when were at home) but what is something I can do for when he goes to school and after school day care. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks moms!


Raye - posted on 08/12/2015




The dad certainly seems to be neglecting his responsibilities, and generally children can be affected by such things. So it's probably safe to assume that the father's behavior is at least one of the contributing factors. I agree with the other's that punishments need to be immediate and need to fit the 'crime'. I'm not strictly opposed to spanking, but there are times that it's not appropriate and (with certain kids) can lead to them thinking that hitting is an acceptable way to solve problems.

Both parents need to address the issues and talk to the boy to get to the heart of what's causing the trouble. And both parents need to be active in making changes to promote a healthier outcome. Family counseling could help if all parties are willing to put in the effort to make it work.

Dove - posted on 08/12/2015




I agree w/ Sarah on the spanking. My own son w/ an inconsistent father (a whole lot less than what your son gets, but I don't think it has really had a lot to do w/ his father at all) had behavior and anger issues... and they started to get a whole lot better once I quit spanking him. All spanking ever did was make him angrier. My son also had 6 months of counseling which was a LIFESAVER for him and our family. The counselor worked w/ him on acceptable outlets for his anger and worked w/ me on tips to help him AND hold him accountable for his behavior.

The school should have their own discipline methods and work w/ you to help him succeed in the classroom.


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Sarah - posted on 08/12/2015




I personally don't think spanking is ever helpful. To hit a child for hitting another child to me seems counter-intuitive, but that is your choice. At 6, giving a time out for something that occurred hours before is probably not really helping him learn self control. Start a dialog with the school for immediate consequences for running from the classroom, not listening or other rule infractions. Perhaps losing recess or free time.
Grandma can continue to be a support and and place for him to enjoy going but it is not her job to teach, discipline or fix his attitude. That's up to you and dad. Has he ever seen a therapist? Whatever the cause of his behavior, he needs to have an outlet and some help developing appropriate coping behaviors. Hockey is probably a great way him for blow off some steam.

MaryAnn - posted on 08/12/2015




The great thing about time outs in corners is that if he gets a warning the first time and continues and gets it at home, usually, he threat "walmart/grandmas/the library also has corners" should work without having to continue into the public humiliation of it actually happening.
Its hard with an inconsistent parent, but more likely that the behavioral problems are due to an inability to cope with his feelings- and this is a thing you can work on with or without dear old dad.
There may be a lot of emotional pain that comes with an inconsistent parent... but its best to let dad address his inconsistent behaviour and focus on teaching your son how to live a better life, how to rise above his feelings. He'll figure out his dad on his own with the guidence from you on how to make good decisions in dealing with his feelings and how he wants life to be.
Hang in there, you're a good woman, a strong woman, and you CAN do this even if it feels like dad is interfering.

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