Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Absent Parenting and Grandparenting

During my experiences with ex-husbands, I have been dumbfounded by their actions as non-custodial parents. Both ex-husbands reacted pretty much in the same manner. They were both afforded visitation by the court, yet both eventually cut all ties with their children. One cut his ties after not securing a place of residence other than his work van (he refused to live in conventional housing) and after leaving the children with his family during his alloted visitation. Our eldest complained about being dropped off and not spending the time with her father, spending nights in the woods in the van as he had no home, and eventually coming home after a weekend in filthy clothing as it was apparent that no one had changed their outfits. His visitation ended by his choice less than six months into the separation.

The other cut his ties a bit later into the separation. At first he refused to see the children, he said he was too depressed to see them. Then after repeated prompting I insisted he come get them for a weekend visitation. He complied and upon repeated prompting he pick them up every other weekend for the most part over the next year. Then he moved from VA to MD about 2.5 hours away to be with his girlfriend. The visits continued until the children and I moved to NC. Prior to our move we had discussed the need for the children and me to move back to NC to be around a family support system. Since he had moved out of the area there was no reason for us to remain in VA.

Before we moved his visitations had begun to get out of hand. He was leaving them with his friends while he went on overnight dates with his girlfriend, he was dropping them off at her place while he would go out for the day tending to business, and he was bringing the children back late from their visits. On more than one occasion he brought them home on Monday morning just before school. On those mornings they had been up since 5 a.m. and were exhausted from the weekend, so they would often end up staying home from school that day to get rested.

Once we moved he adopted the thought pattern of "out of sight out of mind." I had made an open invitation at the time for him to come down and stay with us on weekends in order for them to visit. He refused. He spent the next 11 months ignoring the children. No calls, not for birthdays, not for holidays, nothing. Then a week before school was to let out for the summer he called to inform me that I needed to bring them to VA for summer vacation. So we bantered back and forth only once via attorneys and his decided not to pursue a threat to take custody of the children based on his lack of parent involvement. Since that summer he has seen both of the children once. He saw our son in 2004 during his summer vacation with a friend in VA and our daughter this past summer at a meeting set up by my eldest daughter on behalf of her sister. During that visit he gave both Jenn and Ryan each $100 and told our daughter that he would be calling, writing and beginning to rebuild their relationship.

Since that time he has called ... never. I have spoken with him about child support as it pays the rent and he is late and even misses payments from time to time. Never has he once asked about our children. I am civil when we talk and if he gets heated I say my goodbyes and avoid a fight. What confounds me is how these absent parents behave. I would do whatever it takes legally to see my children had the roles been reversed. These men continue to blame others for their lack of interaction with their children; and it didn't stop with the fathers, the grandparents also failed to continue to maintain their relationships with their grandchildren.

Will they ever take accountability of their actions and rebuild their relationships or are the children better off if these absent family members keep their distance?

No comments: