Jennifer - posted on 06/13/2014 ( no moms have responded yet )
Here's the background: My ex-husband fell apart shortly after we had our first daughter. He had overcome addictions and been sober 5 years before we were married. During my first pregnancy, he became quiet and agitated, I got pregnant 4 months after having our first daughter and he completely fell apart. After two years of sinking deeper and deeper into drugs and finally into heroin, I divorced him and got sole physical and legal custody of my girls with the full support of his parents. That was almost three years ago, we've now been apart for almost five years. My ex-in-laws have been very supportive and we have dinner with them at least once a week. We go out, we go to the park, we spend a lot of time together. They're wonderful people.
My ex-husband is working on his sobriety and has been sober for six months. He has a part time job now and he rents a small room in someone's basement. He is so incredibly different and all of the doctors have said that extensive heroin addiction over a few years causes permanent changes in personality. He is awkward and shy, has a facial twitch and permanent nerve damage to one of his hands. He is now medicated as well. My daughters and I have seen him about four times this year so far and the visits are strained but nice. He has cancelled 23 times because it became too emotional for him at the last minute and he couldn't see them. Four of those times he stood us up and two times he just forgot to cancel. He changed his phone number because he felt that this was the only way that he could feel in control of who calls him. A few times I allowed the girls to call him to say goodnight and it was too much for him.
Here's the issue: My ex-mother-in-law told me yesterday that she wants me to take the girls to get their father a father's day gift because they needed to "start respecting him as their father." I was shocked. I still am. I don't feel it's her place to make that judgment call. The girls are 4 and 5 and they don't really know him. I've told them that "Daddy is sick and can't be here right now" for so long that they repeat it. I've always thought it was better than saying, "Daddy's gone" or "Daddy can't be here". We tried the once-a-week-call thing but he said it was too much of a commitment for him and he just missed them too much. Chances are that he'll back out of Sunday Father's Day dinner, but even if he doesn't, I do not feel obligated to get him anything on their behalf. I guess if he shows up he'll get the same thing I got for Mother's Day- hugs and kisses and giggles. :) And it was more than enough for me. Am I being unreasonable? How do I tell her that she shouldn't have told me that I had to do that?