A dad explains: “Why I don’t see my child.”

why father doesn't see kids

 

Bring up the fatherless epidemic in the United States, and the arguments are as diametric and unrelenting as bipartisan politics. It is either:

  1. Men are irresponsible douchbags who abandon their children to mothers, who are left to raise the children with few resources, or …
  2. Women are conniving, malicious, entitled nut-jobs who alienate fathers from their children while taking all said fathers’ money — all of which is supported by the family court system.

After studying this issue for the four years I’ve had this blog, I understand that the issue is complicated and nuanced, and there is plenty of legitimate room for both points of view, outlined above. You can read more about my stance in favor of shared parenting, empathy for absentee fathers, and other related topics here:

My kid’s dad isn’t involved and I don’t know what to say

The real reason your ex doesn’t see the kids

How to get dads involved in divorced and separated families

Close the pay gap? Get dads involved? 50-50 visitation and no child support

Should you date a guy who doesn’t see his kids?

 

Please listen to Terry Brennan, of Leading Women for Shared Parenting, explain why default every-other-weekend visitation leads to absentee fathers. Note that in cases where ‘standard’ visitation is awarded — every-other-weekend — fathers become depressed and non-involved, and within 3 years, one study found, 40 percent of children in an unequal visitation arrangement had lost complete touch with their non-custodial parents, which are nearly always the father. Have a listen:

 

Other ways to listen: iTunes  ♦  Stitcher   ♦  TuneIn   ♦  SoundCloudGoogle Play

 

What I haven’t reported much is the point of view from the checked-out dads, many of whom have shared with me articulate, thoughtful, and often heart-breaking accounts of why they are not part of their children’s lives. These stories resonate with me, as they have challenged my earlier, blind admonishments that every parent has a moral obligation to fight for their children, no matter what. I still believe this, but I also believe in empathy, and for recognizing each other’s humanity. Here is one story from a commenter on the above posts:

 

From John G:

From my own experiences, I believe it’s widespread for women to use children as a weapon to exact revenge against the ex during, and after, divorce proceedings.

During my lengthy divorce, my ex-wife claimed I was abusive, that she was ‘afraid for her safety,’ and tried to get ‘supervised visitation.’ None of it worked, because it wasn’t true, and because, as an educated professional I had enough money to spend six figures on an attorney. However, it was still a waste of time and money. Even after the divorce, the games continued. My son was being tutored on what to say to me (did you ever hear a 7-year-old respond ‘I’m not comfortable talking about that’ when asked a question?) and being instructed to call me by my first name and not ‘dad.’ I grew tired of making phone calls that weren’t answered, or of being put on hold and the child not coming to the phone, and of cancelled visits. It was heartbreaking seeing the child slip away from me, little by little.

I went to court on several occasions. There is the assumption that the man will just sit there and take the abuse because he does not want to lose the child. She stuck by the letter of the law, and was able to severely limit my contact with my son by way of orders of protection and maintaining to the courts that he was a ‘danger.’ Of the divorced, professional men that I know, all of them had orders of protection against them by their wives. This is even a problem that is recognized by the courts. Some attorneys go so far as to admit that the ‘afraid for my safety’ issue is part of the ‘gamesmanship of divorce.’

I went from the mindset of being a father to the child, to being reduced to the status of a ‘visiting uncle’ or a ‘Disneyland dad’ allied with thinking all the time like an attorney. I was often worried what would happen if she started to make untrue claims that I had (for example) abused the child. When he fell over and scraped his arm when he was with me, I was advised by my attorney to go to all the trouble of going to the doctor, having the scrape bandaged and so on, just to legally cover myself in case she would claim that it had in fact been intentionally caused.

While on the lookout for anything that could be used against me, all the while constantly being told I was a bad person, a bad father, and all my involvement with my son was systematically stripped away. The whole process became a painful sham.

I eventually reached a crossroads with four paths. Some men commit suicide because they can’t handle the anguish. Others resort to violence and anger against the ex-wife. The thirds set take the difficult road, and sacrifice years of their happiness, battling on a hopeless battle with the ex, just to maintain some sort of contact with the kids. The fourth way, is to simply give up, and decide that the cost to the child through seeing the conflict, and to oneself, is too high.

I considered all the above paths for a long time and was tempted by more than a few of them. In the end, I walked away from all contact with my child more than two years ago.

After I had calmed down, I tried again and contacted the ex. I had hoped she would have calmed down and would be willing to work with me. But no, she is still the same bitter and vengeful baggage that she always was. Rather than attempting to discuss things and put things on the right track, she is willing to communicate in writing only. She refuses point blank to let me contact the child. Everything has to go through her.

Some people will say it would be the noblest thing to carry on fighting regardless. ‘I would do anything for my kids!’ they spout. Frankly, I feel that’s very naive and is almost always a view propagated by women. Any father here who has been generously granted a weekend every two weeks knows the feeling when you say goodbye. You’re just getting used to having them around, and they are gone. It’s like having a wound that never heals. Like a band-aid being ripped off over and over. The pain never really went away.

During those days, I used to recall these lines from shakespeare’s King John:

Grief fills the room up of my absent child,
Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me,
Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words,
Remembers me of all his gracious parts,
Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form;

Logically, I have to balance the damage to myself, my life and mental health, the possibility of the conflict damaging the child, against the damage done by my absence.

People who don’t know the situation raise their hands in horror, or pass judgement, assume that this is a choice that is taken lightly and easily. It is not.

sell engagement ring

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about it. Sometimes I see children in shops that look like my child and find it hard not to break down. Sometimes I can’t take my eyes away. Even the shoes are the same. I don’t like to watch movies with children of that age in them. I had to remove all the photographs that I had of my child and every other item and put them in a box. And that’s where all those emotions are now. In a box, held tightly under control, so that I can try and enjoy some semblance of a normal life. It usually works.

I spoke to my ex recently. She claims that the child is just fine. She doesn’t seem to think that I’m needed and believes that my seeing the child is a bad thing. She told me that the gifts I had been sending postally were in a box and he never got them. What is the point to trying? Who am I to argue? She lives with the kid and does the real parenting. All that I could do, once a month or less (she lives a long way from me) would be to visit for a shallow shared visit, a museum trip perhaps – that’s not parenting – that’s just being a Disneyland dad.

I am in despair that many people and the courts expect the impossible. They expect the man to be totally interested, committed, involved with his child’s life – and yet – they make it impossible for that involvement to happen. How can you remain interested and involved when you are given no information about the child’s everyday life, when even the most basic contact is made difficult or impossible, when you are limited to four days a month contact time if you are lucky?

In far too many cases, the father is merely viewed as a source of income. The mother is viewed as the ‘real parent’ who almost always gets physical custody of the child. And once she has the child, she is then almost entirely free of the threat of any consequences. This is a great shame for the children involved who will probably be involved in divorces of their own or be afraid of marriage because they have seen the consequences when they fail. I shouldn’t be surprised if more and more men eschew marriage and traditional family values over the next century.

Personally, I refuse to be blackmailed by my better instincts. I refuse to be reduced to the level of a Disneyland dad by some judge, attorney, social worker or indeed his mother. I refuse to beg for access, or beg for photographs, or ask permission when I can please take him on vacation. No. They will have no more of me. One day, I will be able to get in touch without going through her once the child is old enough. Until then, I intend to get on with my life.

 

What do you think? Are you a dad who no longer sees his kids? Why? Please share in the comments …

Or, are you the mother of a child with an absentee father? What is your response?

Are you a child of a father who is not, or was not, around? What do you say to this dad?

 

 

Never miss an offer or update.

Just pop in your name and email and be the first to find out what WealthySingleMommy is up to!



No B.S. I will never sell your contact info.

84 thoughts on “A dad explains: “Why I don’t see my child.”

  1. Wow. As a mother of three who has been forced to raise my children solo with zero child support since my divorce 9 years ago because my ex-husband simply refuses to work, I’m gobsmacked. I can tell you that my children have really been affected by his absence, especially my daughter, the eldest, who is now 21 and has recently been kicked out of college for reasons that defy logic…especially because it was a miracle for me to find a way to send her. My son’s won’t know how to be a good father because they never had one. As a result of my ex refusing to help financially my kids also got a mom who is stressed & frazzled all the time because everything else suffers when one parent gets stuck doing everything…especially when there is no support system & no money. I’m sorry pal, you make some good points about the unnecessary manipulative bullshit scorned ex’s sometimes resort to, but damn, one day you’ll have to explain your rationale to your child & all he’s going to think is, my dad didn’t care enough to fight to be my Dad. The damage is irreperable.

    1. Lucy – It’s hard to focus on your argument here because all I hear is blame and victimhood. Yes, your kids’ dad should have been involved, but we can’t hinge every problem in your life, or your kids’ lives, on that one tragedy. Single moms with no outside help or income raise productive, healthy children who grow up to be great parents, and make the decision not to be stressed and frazzled as an overall life theme.

      1. Yep, easy to blame ‘the bastard’. Although there are boys who walk away I can’t imagine a man doing that. Having and loving children is what separates the men from the boys.

        1. Kieth: Sanctimonious: self-righteous, holier-than-thou, pious, churchy, moralizing, preachy, smug, superior, priggish, hypocritical, insincere, goody-goody.

    2. If you would have given him equal parenting things would have been a lot different. You have no one to blame but yourself for the way your children are now! I know because I am one of those fathers too. I have 4 practically worthless children who I didn’t get to be a part of their lives because of the system. I didn’t refuse to work. I just couldn’t afford to bring them into my home because I would not have been able to pay my bills after paying the stupid support. Go cry in someone else’s beer ma’am. You will get no sympathy from me!

      1. My kids father pays the min support and I let I’m know that he can see his kids whenever he wants or he can call but he doesn’t he sees them once a week and always plans vacations so that holidays he doesn’t see the kids even though we have the standard agreement. What’s his excuse, I’m still civil to him but those are questions I can’t seem to get answered.

    3. I see your point. However it would be equally valid for the child to ask ‘why did my mother keep my dad from me?’. You seem to have the assumption that it is up the man to ‘fight’, come what may, and regardless of cost, for the right to be an equal parent, when common sense would dictate that both parents should be equal.

      However, in the real world, I believe that almost every mother believes deep in her heart that the child is ‘hers’ and that she is the more important parent, when it really comes down to it.

      I have often wondered what I will say when the child approaches me. Would it be the right thing to do, for me to show him my journal, my court papers and relate the stories? Would shattering the illusion he has about his mother being a good person in order to make myself look better (even if it is true) be the right thing to do? Would it be in fact more noble to keep the truth from him, even if that means that I am forever in the wrong in his eyes?

      It is often said that Life is a hard teacher. She gives the test first, and the lesson after.
      I believe that one of the more useful lessons that life teaches us, is to know when to simply give up. Human beings are notoriously bad at it, which is why you hear people complaining about their job and yet doing it for years. We are all on this earth only once. Sometimes we have to make hard or unpopular choices. Sometimes whatever choice we make carries a penalty and it’s a question of the greatest good of the greatest number.

      I intend to keep reminding his mother that I am here, that I am willing to see the child, that I in fact would love him to spend time with me. But if she refuses to cooperate, I am not going to write begging letters. I will continue to pay all the money that is asked of me, but if the courts and his mother refuse to support my role as a father, then that’s sad for the child, and for me, but I have seen the writing on the wall and I sadly conclude that I should not spend any more money, time, energy or heartache fighting a one sided battle that I can never win.

      1. John – My deepest sympathies on your situation. first and foremost – I can entirely understand and support your decision. I witness first hand, every darn day, the same struggle and feelings my husband goes through. As a woman myself I am disheartened by women today and their self-entitled, self-righteous, disgusting behavior and thought process. How anyone could think that one parent would have a superior, God like right over the other parent in regards to a child is ridiculous and insulting. We should all understand that every “family’s” situation is unique and there will always be circumstances that make everyone’s story different from the other there is really one ultimate goal… We need to stop screwing up our children. The family court system has been the primary source of the destruction of the family unit and is resulting in the destruction of our children. Our children are supposed to be our future… this is why our nation is in the shambles that it’s in.. divided. We are teaching our children not of equality but entitlement.. power.. money.. hate. My step son’s mother accused my husband of being a bad father and irresponsible for not using the same laundry detergent as her. All because she got pregnant after dating for a month, showed up 7 months later (claiming she didn’t know she was pregnant the whole time) and expected him to move her in and be with her. When he politely rejected the idea.. shit hit the fan! He was a dead beat, abusive, irresponsible, a danger. And after keeping the child away for 9 month.. claimed he was a danger because he was a stranger. So now the poor child, my husband, our entire family must suffer at the hands of this woman and her parents all because my husband wouldn’t take her in and marry her.

        I was joking with a friend the other day that we mine-as-well just go back to the gladiator arenas back in the time of the Romans because that is really what is happening… throwing parents in a ring and seeing who comes out alive. They make money off of it, the more drama = the more money.. the wealthier you are the better chance you have of having good weapons and you can only have one winner. sad but true. Society has bred us to believe that men cannot raise children and lead us to believe the “dead beat dad” saga. Women are emotional creatures… Women use Domestic violence as a crutch to seek revenge to make men feel the pain that they have “causes” them. It merely boils down to a “how dare you” situation. You want to cheat.. how dare you, i’ll take your kid and your money and use my power to exert control over you…you want to leave me… how dare you, i’ll use my power and control over you to make you miserable… you want to see your kid… too bad how dare you, you shouldn’t have left me… no matter how much you hate the other parent, your kids shouldn’t be used as a pawn, a possession, a weapon. Everyone needs to get off their high horses and walk in the mud with the rest of us. we are all equal. We need to do a better job at fighting for our children. Our children need equal UNHAMPERED access to both parents. We need to get along and put our hurt feelings aside. We need to get it out of our heads that one parent OWES the other anything. we OWE our children.

        Lucy – I don’t know you or your situation.. you have my sympathy that you have struggled… but with that said, I would bet a year’s salary, if after I heard your story I’d respond with something you wouldn’t want to hear like shame on you.

        Emma – *high five*

        1. My sons dad isn’t allowed to see my son because he will not make it equal and I refuse for my son to be treated like an outsider.. he favors the one he lives with comes to get my son when he feels like it and does not make him a priority.. if he can’t take him consistently on a regular basis he cannot see him at all.. it is not fair to my son or me for him to see him once every five months while he kisses his girlfriends ass and raises his other son everyday.. he also is not on child support and never helps financially

      2. The Mothers can’t see or feel our Father’s pain. To the Mothers the children are just property, held back from dad for spite. Face it and just deal with it ladies. If a mother was fair she would lay down boundaries, be mature enough to know the damage of not having the father involved and it’s consequences. Just because a relationship ends for the parents doesn’t mean the mother should also end the Children’s relationship with the father.

        We all make mistakes, stretch truths and manipulate the situation. But no mother can understand the pain us men feel when dropping off our children, you can’t understand and never will. You should be more focused on yourself for pushing and Alienating the father from his children and the longterm effects on those children rather than dancing around with your trophy and sipping margaritas with your girlfriends of how much control you flex over the father.

        Sure, not all mothers are the same. There is a tiny fraction of fair and rational mothers who learn to co-exist. Just like not all Father’s are the same. I am in that minority of Father’s grasping at whatever I can get as my case gets dragged through the system. However, the father in this add, sadly, has thought thru all 4 options, considered their weight and realized, next to suicide over the heart brake and rabbit hole of loneliness, depression and feelings of his life shattered by not being involved and treated merely as an atm…made the right decision.

        Knowing it would cost thousands I don’t have and years that I don’t have, suicide or vanishing is the only way some of us can cope because no matter how ,Uchiha we spend or how long it takes, we still have to support ourselves and the children are being brainwashed the entire time. These mothers should take a walk in our shoes, be grateful we would accept boundaries with equal parenring, not counter parenting to just be involved. Stop being hell-bent to Alienate us when we all know of dad’s out there that wud prefer to just leave u with the kids.

        None of us want to be ‘Disneyland Dads’, it’s not fair to the children either and statistically speaking mothers are willingly causing more harm for the children by handling matters this way. You should hope and pray the children don’t grow up bitter against you as they will resent you once they come of age and discover you pushed their daddy away.

        1. I agree with a good many of the sentiments in this reply. It is clear that the writer is as annoyed at the situation as I was. For myself, I think I’m down the path to acceptance of the situation now – but only because I chose to cut off contact and allow the wounds to heal. Perhaps that is the way that men often deal with issues.

          I also often reflect that:

          ‘Feeling hate and anger, is akin to drinking poison and hoping that your enemy will die’.

          I know some men that have battled for ten precious years with the ex-wives over the kids. There are stories in these replies today of poor men who have sacrificed a large percentage of their lives in an ultimately fruitless quest. I know other men that cut off contact when the ex started to play games and then resumed contact with the kids when they were old enough to be free of the mother’s control. They most likely have judged themselves in the secret halls of their hearts more times than some people imagine.

          I applaud any man who is grimly being dragged through the system, doing what he can, the best he can, to maintain some sort of relationship with the children that have been taken from him. That is the hardest road of all. It’s a very difficult and noble thing to do. It may be fruitless, but at least his conscience is clear that he did everything he possibly could. I am often ashamed, despite my reasoning, that I took the route that I did. People who know me urge me to forgive myself. That is not so easy. I often wonder whether I could have or should have spent more, done more, argued more.

          We are expected and conditioned that as parents, we should be willing to go through any form of hell to bring happiness to our children. However, there has to be a line. Just like any parent would agree that they would not be prepared to sell their house in order to buy junior a pony, in a similar way, I reasoned, I would have to balance the financial and emotional cost to all parties of the constant fighting against the consequences to the child of a break in contact.

          1. Hello John,

            My name is Terry Brennan and I’m a co-founder of Leading Women for Shared Parenting. Perhaps you’ll investigate our organization…. just google LW4SP.

            First, let me say, I’m not here to judge you and, with one exception, I do understand your rationale as I’ve spent five years talking with “non-custodial parents’ and, likely more often, those who love them. Among the gender issues that are underreported by our media is that estimates of those deemed “non-custodial parents” by US Family Courts who lose touch with their children range from 30% to 50%. It’s a horrific system we put families through and a direct cause of Fatherlessness. In fact, using the low estimate, US Family Courts create a Fatherless child every 60 seconds. In short, you’re not alone. Having talked with so many, I hope you’ll accept that I do understand.

            However, In the above, I said “with one exception”.

            That exception is, you almost never hear the voices of those who’ve lost touch with their children, and tell the story you so eloquently told, as these parents don’t typically peruse blogs about child custody, family law or shared parenting. As such, the stories of those who made the decision you did, typically aren’t told, as the connection between the story teller, and the publishing platform is never made. The vacuum of this void is then filled by those, who’ve never been through the experience, but none the less, feel capable of sharing their judgment.

            If I may ask, how did you connect with Emma and why did you send your story? (And I’m happy you did).

            Thank you John.

        2. Life is cruel and we can’t change that but the kids who forget there fathers are missing out on the jokes and the fun the kids that forgot there fathers have worse lives because what’s life without a dad somewhere in the world. I love my dad and I miss him a lot and it’s all my moms fault and I won’t ever forget about my dad. The people who do are terrible people

        3. I chose not to go through the courts. I realized thatbI was dealing with a broken man. He needed constant attention, reassurance of how great of a person he could be when the truth was he was mean spirited, emotionally needed and a veey petty and spiteful man. He carried lot of hurt from issues with his mom and unlashed on me anytime I tried to get him to open up. I supported and loved unconditionally until I realized that he enjoyed being this ugly part of him. He told me he knew his behavior was unhealthy and wanted help but after several years of his emotional abuse, I couldn’t keep in this relationship that physically drained me. Telling me F××× me, walking out and blaming for not chasing him. Not respecting or understanding boundaries. How dare I try to have a voice, but I fell inlove with the pieces of a great man with a tortures past that allowed his demons to get the best of him and blaned everyone else because of it.
          He had a 5 year old child from a previous relationship and he didn’t see her as much as he wanted, but I quickly realized it was because of his lack of respect for the mother’s time. He expected to call her on a Saturday morning and take his daughter but of coursw, most times that wasnt possible. I would hear him cancel seeing her, because he couldn’t get up because he was completely toasted after stumbling on my house from s drunken night. As time passed, he became more excited about living than killing himself with addictionns. When we got pregnant, I was concerned but I’ve committed myself to him and were starting our family, so I thought.
          It seems like when I got pregnant, old habits resurfaced and much worse than they ever were. I was a very high risk pregnancy and things got so bad, I had to move back with my parents, my parents while my husband was out feeding his addiction. I was 5 months pregnant and my partner, my friend had abandoned me. Fast forward, I spend 9 days in the hospital when he showed up, only after my emergency C section. And while in the hospital recovering, procedes to tell me how I hurt him. Needless to say, that was my last straw and separated. He didn’t feel comfortable coming to my parents house, so he didn’t see our baby much. The times he did come by, he left to get a fix and then came completely off. But what is a dad to expect when he chooses to pop in and out of your childs life as he pleases? I think it becomes irresponsible to allow that behavior around your child. How long do you allow your child to feel that hurt and disappointment of being second to another child, another lover, alcoholism, addiction? A parents state of mind is extremely important in the health and their abilitybto care for their children. Telling a mother to just get over her pain is as irresponsible as it is telling a father to deal with not seeing his child. A divorce is a loss. The dissolvement of a family is heart breaking, regardless of the reason and both parties must be empathetic towards that. Healing while caring for your children is Extremely difficult and it absolutely takes time.
          He became so disrespectful and nasty,I made the decision to put some space between us. He was still able to see our son, until recently. He’s screaming he hates me, and disappointed in me for not fighting to keep us together, but I realized he’s projecting his reflection of himself. I can’t have our son around that behavior. I think I have every right to guard him from thst destructiveness. Am I wrong for not wanting our son to think thst behavior is ok? Am I bitter, No, Im disappointed and very hurt but Im more scared that our little boy will pick up this negative energy and start to feel insecure because of his father unsettled issues.
          Emotional abuse is hard to heal from, and I truely loved my husband. But thinking about this young man we’re blessed to raise, puts him first. Mother and father have to be capable. It troubles me when people say get over it. It doesn’t happen in a day and it takes both parties and open and honest communicstion.

      3. John,
        I read your post last night and I cried. I am in exactly the same situation only with 3 kids and a financial situation much worse than yours. I have reached the crossroads and when I the only options left I see are leaving the world or leaving the kids, then I have no choice but to stop seeing my kids. I know in my heart that this is not a choice I’m making lightheartedly but a choice I’m forced to make due to a vengeful ex wife and and a corrupt family court system.
        Although I’m sad it also gave me strength reading your post, knowing that I’m not the only divorced father feeling like this.
        I refuse to continue taking abuse. I refuse to continue being blackmailed by the biased court system. One day my children will understand.
        In response to what to tell the kids once they ask…YES, you need to show them everything. Court documents, journals, emails, messages. EVERYTHING.
        Right now the kids are only getting one side of the story. They need to hear both sides. Even if it will only happen in several years from now. Keeping the truth from small children is sometimes necessary. But once they’re old enough they NEED to know the truth. It’s not noble to hide the truth. Much better to be honest with your children once they are old enough to understand. I guarantee you that in the end they will appreciate you for your honesty.

      4. Everyone saying you don’t understand and you can’t fight forever and blah this blah that. All I’m reading are I’s and blame but no one is saying what they did or how they got there or how they will never give up cause no matter what these are your children. You never stop fighting for them no matter how stressful it gets for you. That’s what your children will appreciate the fight. Some of you want sympathy cause you kept losing battles and couldn’t take the heartache and stress and pain. Which is understanding but I can’t sympathise with. I try every chance I get to be in my kid’s life and although they are in highschool and I just now got to really be a Dad it paid off cause my kid’s know I never stopped fighting and they welcome me open arms. It’s hard for some men now in this post but your kids will eventually be grown and it’s them you have to answer to and their not going ask you why mom kept me away they are going to ask why you didn’t keep fighting for me and it got to hard isn’t an answer some kids will accept,I didnt.

    4. Did the dad ever have equal opportunity, authority into the childs upbringing, and access? If not then you got what you made. You made. The first sign of the disingenuous mother is the monetary statements. As always the tell-tale sign of a parent who’s values are upside down. smh.. tsk tsk. Single mom’s by choice are a sham and kidnappers. Pretty simple.

    5. You have no idea what you are talking about Lucy ! I quit seeing my daughter after fighting to see her for 14 years ! $150,000 in attorneys fees and nothing but heartache and stress ! Your financial stress will never compare to the emotional pain some of us men go through from evil manipulative exs that use the kids as payback !!!!

    6. By the way you say, it’s better for a real dad to push to the limits, to fight till the end, knowing that the end is most likely prison, or broke and roofless, or killing himself. Then, when the children become aware of what happened, they will be thrilled to have such a good dead dad, and a mother they don’t want to see for the rest of their lives.

    7. Some single mothers are single mothers because they chose it, caused it, and deserve it. Of course, it is always someone else’s fault. That’s how you sound.

    8. Or he can tell his son the truth.

      He can show proof of presents and cards sent to his child over the years and prove how the Mother prevented contact. Mom is the monster in this story.

      I’ve known children who have reconnected with their fathers years after being alienated by their mother, not one of them thinks Dad did not care enough to be a dad. The Truth eventually comes out.

      Sorry you have a Bad ex…that was your choice. This man has an ex that is using his child as a weapon against him.

      Thank you Feminism for this Female Privilege.

    9. Sorry but i raised 2 boys on my own as my ex was an alcholic and narricist. Everytime he let us down or the kids or they went somewherre with another 2 parent family I would tell my kids thats the way it should be and that not all Dads are like theirs. It may have made then disappointed but it will help them to become loving dads in the long term. Looking after yourself and the children is your main job and yu should give yourself credit every now and then. Your kids love you so show that back and dont compensate constantly it doesnt work. Just tell the kids we all will be fine and move forward, dont look back just keep moving forward and you should get some help so you can help yourself which helps the children . Yes kids should have there dad more but its out of our control and the kids need eventually accept that, if he isn abusive and the kids what to talk to him so be it but just keep being there wonderful mum and just do the best and for you also, please take care of yourself also. dont say much about there dad concentrate on you guys, get p/time job go out a bit etc.The kids will realize your the responsible parent and they are going to need you all there lives.

  2. Emma,
    In co-founding LW4SP, I’ve spent 5 years talking with “non-custodial parents” (mostly fathers).

    Frankly, you nailed this, on so many levels.

    While many will likely feel, “were I in that situation, there’s NO WAY I walk away from my kids”, I’ll respond, its a situation you only know how you’d react to AFTER you’ve been faced with it. Fatherlessness is the top social issue in America. Yes, its caused by many factors, including fathers who don’t want to be involved. But as the damage to children is so traumatic, we should be doing all we can, at government, corporate and non-profit levels, to encourage active fatherhood. Instead, like what’s described in this story, many of those same institutions help create fatherlessness rather than address it.

    Thank you for such a great piece.

    Terry Brennan

  3. My heart breaks for this man and his children. My marriage to my kids’ Dad didn’t work out, but that’s about me and him, not our children. I am grateful for the coparenting relationship we share and I know it’s good for my kids. Has it been easy? No, not always but well worth it for my children and my own sense of self-respect. I hope the author is able to find some peace, and I hope his children grow to understand and open to him in time. I don’t pretend to know everything about his situation but I simply can’t imagine biasing my children against their father.

  4. My father just stopped being my father when my parents split up. It is VERY hard on the child. I would have been thrilled to even just have a “Disneyland dad”. It is devastating to know your parent doesn’t try to see you. Devastating.
    I think this father is telling himself things that make him feel better but he is kidding himself . His child is suffering because of the father’s behavior.

    1. So you think that everyone else’s experience is the same as your experience, and we’re all just lying about our experiences…

    2. Ann – Perhaps, rather than simply blaming your father, you might wish to explore the circumstances surrounding his decision, what your mother may (or may not) have done to have brought this on. It may have been just as devastating for your father. Perhaps not only is “his child suffering because of the father’s behaviour,” could it be that the father is also suffering because of the mother’s bahaviour? It may not be so in your case, but maybe re-read the article and see why some fathers finally walk away.

  5. I wrote the story above and would like to address a few points that were made.

    I agree that it is desirable that a child has two involved parents. However this involvement is realistically possible only where the parents manage to cooperate for the good of the child. When a custodial parent undertakes a systematic campaign to limit access to the child and to information, and fosters an atmosphere of conflict, then that ideal becomes unworkable.

    I have an issue with the above comment that blithely remarks ‘His child is suffering because of this father’s behavior’.

    I feel it more accurate to agree that the child is suffering, because of the situation. I do not see it as being solely the fault of my ex-wife, but crucially, I do not see it as solely my fault either. A cooperative shared parenting arrangement would have been helpful but that takes cooperation from both sides.

    Things are made worse when there is an atmosphere of active non-cooperation and passive-aggressive behavior from the mother. Many women seem to indulge themselves in such behavior, which often goes unpunished.

    I am certain that many of the below items will be very familiar to that unhappy band of men in the shadows, the non-custodial fathers.

    In addition to the things mentioned in the article, I personally have endured more than sixteen court appearances and almost four hundred thousand dollars in joint legal fees.

    I have had all decision making responsibilities taken away from me, with the result that my child has been to hospital, changed schools, changed addresses, changed telephone numbers and changed doctors, all without consulting or even informing me.

    On one occasion, I asked for details on a medical problem. My ex-wife refused to answer, pointing me at the court order and requesting that I call his doctor. I called the doctor and found out that my child had changed physician. I emailed and requested the physician details. My email was ignored.

    On numerous occasions, I have had visitation cancelled because of another social engagement or because my child had a birthday party to attend. On another occasions, I have requested to reschedule visitation and delay pick up by 2 hours because of work, only to be told that wasn’t possible because she ‘had other plans’ and therefore that I must cancel the visitation. On all these occasions, I have asked, and been denied extra ‘make up’ weekends and have been held up as being a ‘bad parent’ because I didn’t see the child.

    Schools have been instructed not to talk to me. I have been unjustly accused of emotional and physical abuse. Gifts that I have bought and given personally, just vanish, are ‘lost’ or are simply confiscated. The child does not have, and is not allowed to have, a photo of me in the house and is not permitted to communicate with me electronically using IM, email or skype. Letters, gifts and cards that I send are not delivered. Phone calls that I make go to voicemail or are not answered.

    I was required by the court to approach no closer than 50 feet when exchanging the child. This seven year old child had to walk alone with his little bag across the empty no-mans land between us. I had to fight a court battle to avoid being compelled to exchange this young child at the police station. I leave it to your imagination what sort of mental damage that type of situation could do to a child.

    I am also aware that my new wife and new family are also entitled to some happiness. I feel that it would be unfair of me to spend all my time, energy and money on a fruitless enterprise, fighting against an embittered woman who has decided to try and make our lives miserable, at any cost.

    And lest any shrill readers conclude that my new family and wife are the result of an affair. That is not true. I decided to rebuild my life and start again in an attempt to move on from the past and as an escape from the echoing rooms and the empty children’s clothes that still hang, several sizes too small now, in my closet.

    The non custodial father is frequently embattled and alone, trying to do his best for all the other people in his life, with the limited dear fuel of life that he has remaining. Unfortunately, he is damned is he does, and damned if he does not.

    1. Your story breaks my heart. As a mother, I would do everything I could to make sure my son had both parents involved in his life at all times, unless the other parent was truly a danger to the child. I really wish people realized that making the child a pawn does not make you a good parent. Eventually kids grow up and some even find out the truth. The child’s best interest should be first and foremost in every decision. People break up, make mistakes, get divorced but holding onto the bitterness over the situation isn’t healthy for anyone. My head understands why you have given up but my heart hopes you keep a journal or some kind of record so if your son were to ask you what happened he would understand why you made the decision you did. I hope at some point his mother puts your child first and fosters an environment in which the two of you can have a healthy relationship.

      1. “my heart hopes you keep a journal or some kind of record so if your son were to ask you what happened he would understand why you made the decision you did. ”

        I like this – or even email and phone records of your contact with the mom over the years …

        1. As I mentioned in an earlier post I have kept a journal and of course have copies of all the legal papers. However, I often question whether I should ever reveal those in the future when I hopefully speak to my son when he is old enough. I wonder – would it be right for me to shatter the illusion that he has about his mother? Imagine – he comes to me feeling secure – knowing he has a loving mother and a useless father. I show papers and evidence. It may do more harm than good. He winds up with a broken relationship with both parents. It is only human for me to want to tell ‘my side’ of the story and thus appear a better person than I am. It might not be the right thing though.

          1. For what it’s worth, as someone who once vilified one parent and sanctified the other (unhappy marriage including emotional abuse), as I grew up (well after 18, mind you), I’ve been able to see that both parents had their faults and struggles. Age and reflection combined with authentic experiences in the present can often shine more light on a situation than hearing another side of the story. So you might not have to shatter the illusion of a perfect mom; she could do that all on her own while you showcase your own true self in the present (which is future) instead of explaining the past. You have my massive respect for considering this side of it, though.

    2. John,
      Again your post hits me right in the heart. I just got engaged 2 days ago (Valentine’s Day) to a wonderful woman. She understand my situation and has stood by me and supported me through the hell that I have been going through. And as hard as I know must be for her, she has never complained and keeps finding strength when I have none.
      “I am also aware that my new wife and new family are also entitled to some happiness. I feel that it would be unfair of me to spend all my time, energy and money on a fruitless enterprise, fighting against an embittered woman who has decided to try and make our lives miserable, at any cost.”
      Your eloquent words describe exactly how I feel. I need to move on with my life, and my fiance deserves a man who can make her happy every day.

      1. Hello Mike. Thank you for your remarks. I agree that moving on with your life is the healthiest option.

        The sad and dangerous thing is that ‘moving on’ and lack of contact seems to involve the father ‘letting go’ of his attachment if he want to keep his sanity and be happy. Otherwise he would be forever pining for the child, for something that the court has decided that he can’t have.

        In my case, ‘letting go’ wasn’t something that I chose. It just seems to have happened over time, with the distance, the separation, and the knowledge that there is no possibility that the child will ever live with me or spend a large amount of time with me ever again.

        My point is that, no doubt it hurts the child to have you absent. However, you may find that it hurts you less and less as time goes by, and you may find yourself questioning whether your feelings for the child are exactly the same as before. I know I do.

    3. Your story told here is sad. However, you begin with the divorce. Something happened to get you there. I stayed in a crap marriage for 15 years to avoid divorce. Of course, eventually another woman wanted the ring and divorce ensued. Mine was also six figures. Fatherhood wan’t much of a priority when it was diapers, childcare, broken bones. When the youngest was old enough to stay home alone, he sued for sole custody based on my job (he was retiring that month). I was delivering them to a house where they were, in fact, home alone.

      The sad fact of divorce is that two people that can’t agree on anything either let the child decide or go to court on every school, medical and religious question. Neither are great options. But, now you have a new family. So, you have moved on and your son sees that. Do you integrate the child in your new family, or do you and your wife bitch about your ex? I guarantee that the child won’t be able to tell you off for a few years if ever, but he is reporting it back to his mother.

      Someone has to be the final word. Perhaps you were in your marriage. or your marriage failed because you weren’t. But, now it is your ex. If you can’t find a way to get along with her, you’re going to need bouncers at his wedding. Don’t be that couple.

  6. My sympathies are with this gentleman. My son was divorced about 9 years ago and his X-wife has continued to harass him and deny him visits with his daughter. The courts listen to her lies and my son is powerless to make a difference in the outcome. He is 41 years old and is now facing an early death because of her vindictive, selfish , and cruel behavior.

    Our Family Courts need help. To accept a woman’s complaints about her former husband is not always the best thing to do..

    1. Family courts need help ceasing to exist. They don’t CARE about the child. They don’t care about anything but money.

      Marriage should be abolished and replaced with civil contracts and arbitrated, if need be, in civil courts.

  7. My husband refused give up. He fought to see his teenaged daughter. DCFS was called and our other children were interviewed and inspected. He still refused give up. He paid over $200 a week in child support but his daughter was told he didn’t pay anything. She hated him.

    There is no happy ending here. She is 25 and will only text before Christmas and her birthday. He continues to try, but it is pointless. She is pregnant and it is doubtful he will meet the baby. She did “let” him buy the crib.

    He should have given up. It a sad reality.

  8. At which point and at which time throughout the reproductive experience to men in US society either through social custom, social norms, or law be it penal or civil do men have any reproductive rights? Gotcha. If you say men have none then you are guilty of gender elitism, discrimination, and misandry. If you state men do? The right was given at consent then you are guilty of out right gender hypocrisy to its fullest. The fact is- some dad’s dont want to be dad is short sighted half hearted attempt at beginning to understand what this nations males grow up with and live with as men- gender discrimination in regards to raising our race and the direction in which our race will go. It is pretty simple- The choice for women to decide these things? Fairly? That was made at consensual unprotected sex. Therefore, if young women can abort parenthood, which is what is happening during abortion, then young men deserve that right too. His body? His right. Works both ways. The hypocrisy by women in our nation needs to stop. Single mom by choice is an incentive’s plague and playing that card as is often done through law enforcement and baiting fathers is a disgusting abuse of law, a slap in the face to actual victims, and tantamount to conspiracy for the end of kidnapping another human beings child. There is not one father who truly lies at fault for bailing since every father from birth has been systemically taught- you don’t matter…. just wait, watch and learn. That is a fact. And also the gender discrimination done to men on a national scale from testicular cancer research to hours worked to education to life expectancy is an outright joke of a premise for their to be given no immediate and pressing concern nor action taken on the part of anyone… no a man. Enough is enough- if the law and women want to intrinsically act like men don’t matter as much as any women in any aspect of life then you get out of US fathers exactly what you tried to put into the role- practically nothing. That is not the abused men by this societies fault who are constantly bombarded by the “patriarchy” fallacy and the “rape” culture lie that now states men don’t have to touch a women to rape a women. Anyways. Look- either US women start getting honest and take a long hard look at what they have done, such as allow and promote a disgustingly gender discriminatory VAWA while 25% are victims of DV themselves with zero help, and take a long hard look at the kidnapping that has been going on and take responsibility or guys like me and MGTOW are going to continue to preach and teach- walk away. Men will be treated equally as human beings or they will walk away.

    1. Yes. MGTOW. MGTOW + pro-marriage activists are going to be the solution to this.

      Funny thing is, it won’t make MGTOW disappear :)

      MGTOW always existed — it just wasn’t the club it is today.

  9. I was the child of a divorce in the 1950’s, when that was rare, and I was a divorced single parent of teenagers at the turn of the millennium. Both were the source of great sorrow and angst. But none of all that comes anywhere near the grief of being unable to be a grandma to the now 4 year old child that has been stolen away from our entire family. The Laws that exist to protect abused women and children are being horribly abused by women who want power, or to exact revenge or whatever they imagine they could get out of this…
    The children who are being kept away from their fathers via trumped up orders of protection are being horribly abused by their mothers (usually – sometimes it’s the other way around) and the courts.
    The real victims of abuse suffer because the system is tied up paying attention to frivolous and fake allegations.
    The parents suffer because their resources that could have been projected towards family growth and personal fulfillment are redirected into the wallets of attorneys and time wasted in courtrooms.
    The lawyers suffer because while they all dreamed of being Atticus Finch, they have morphed into monsters being paid to inflict maximum pain onto an opponent for money. What happens to a person whose workdays depends on applying torture for profit?
    Society suffers because we have so many people living stressed and deprived of all the love they need to thrive.
    Teachers suffer because so many kids are in trouble or just unable to focus beyond their personal despair.
    We grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins suffer for losing the opportunity to connect with our own relatives. We want to share our love and our holidays and our silly stories with our grandkids who share our DNA (Adopted kids should not be kidnapped away from half their families either.) but our beloved children of the Family are being held for ransom. I should tell my son “wait 15 years and she might come to you on her own” ??? – not.
    Oh, but I WILL tell my son to not give up on life. Suicide, you estranged dads, takes the unbearable pain you suffer and amplifies it for us exponentially. Don’t go there! I will walk in pain with you – all of you – rather than walk without you forever.
    Oh, but I WILL tell my son that angry violence make things far worse. Although it’s hard to imagine worse pain, it does indeed exist. Worse for you, worse for your child, worse for us. Worse for the world. Please don’t create those ripple effects.
    Oh, but I WILL tell my son “As long as you choose to struggle against these chains that bar you from your child in the hope (yes I know sometimes it’s with the absence of hope) in the hope of regaining some semblance of family with your own child – I will stand by you.”
    And I WILL tell my son if he chooses to move on in the hope of regaining some semblance of a happy life for himself, “I will still stand by you there in your new life.”
    Meanwhile I say to everybody there is another path. We have to come together to change this.
    I am a feminist, I am a single mom, I have a darling daughter. I hear you young women, but this has to change.
    I am a law abiding citizen, I am a patriot, I respect the Court. I hear the value of protecting women against violence, but this is all out of kilter and the laws have to change.
    I am a mother of sons, I value fatherhood, I believe in you young men. I hear you and stand with you. But be prepared to change – and to change the system.

  10. This whole topic breaks my heart, particularly because my two-year-old son is picking up on all the dads in pre-school TV shows and out and about in our community. I’m honest with him to the extent that makes sense for now. When he was a newborn, I shied away from all books or pictures that included daddies, but now I talk to him about daddies and mommies. He has Mama and Mimi (my mom). His father and I split up halfway through the planned pregnancy due to differing opinions on resuscitation at birth (it was a high-risk pregnancy). I asked to meet up and discuss arrangements with him closer to my due date, and when we did, he said he wanted a clean break with no contact. I requested that we keep current contact information in case any of the kids (he has others) would ever need some sort of life-saving. He agreed to that. He has since reached out to apologize to me and “extend a hand of friendship”. But when I asked if he wanted to meet his son, he said no. A few months later, he liked something on Facebook. I again asked if he was trying to reach out and get involved. He again said no, he wanted nothing from us. I try, very hard, to empathize with people and generally care about fellow human beings regardless of how much of their situations are their fault. Just because your arm broke because you put it in the bear trap doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. But it is very hard to have sympathies for women who keep kids away from fathers or for men who actively choose (when there is an open choice) not to be involved. I love (in theory) Emma’s stance on fathers having 50/50 custody. I can’t imagine that it would be easy – my son has only spent 2 nights away from me (with my aunt), and they were hard. But seeing him start to understand he doesn’t have a daddy is pretty hard, too.
    And because I try to be a positive person in general, I can’t let that be the end of the post. I absolutely, completely, unimaginably love my son. And I would go through it all again even knowing the challenges. And I LOVE my life. It’s a WIP, and it’s messy and challenging and sad (Mimi has stage 4 cancer but that’s a whole other ball game). But it’s my beautiful, crazy, one life to love, enjoy and improve.

    1. PS As a mother of a son, I also hope we get past this gender divide anti-man culture. Nothing good happens in the extremes of any philosophical standpoint. Men can be great parents, and women can kick ass. They’re not mutually exclusive. I am happy my son has well-balanced, nurturing, tough men as great role models in his life.

  11. My partner has basically same story, only he kept trying, and the mom successfully turned the kid against him. Same mom who wouldn’t tell him where his dog was, called the cops when he came to the house to get the dog, took the dog to the pound, and had to be forced by a judge to reveal the pet’s location just days before the dog was scheduled to be euthanized. So you can imagine she tried even harder to keep him away from the thing he loved the very most, his child. Her revenge has been successful. It’s a daily heartbreak. He tries to wall himself off, like the writer of this article. Sometimes works, but often it ends up in sleepless nights, ten years later. I questioned the extent to which he’s given up, at first. He does send gifts, birthday wishes, holiday invitations…. and gets nothing back, except occasional uncovered medical bills, sent without a note. He says he’s used to it but I can see that it’s a major punch in the gut, every time. I’d probably keep trying in more and more elaborate ways and end up in jail or in a mental institution. I have come to understand the sanity of the approach this man has taken. Tragic all around, though.

  12. My soon to be ex is a Major in the Army. My son is almost 8 years old, all the deployments, schools ect.. I was his mom and his dad. We moved every second year, so I gave up my life to support his, I took care of everything, doctors, schools, piano and swimming, cooking, cleaning…….Yes, we do everything, all you need to do is be a parent, be involved and don’t complain.

    1. Naira. This is the sort of remark that I have a problem with and that makes a lot of men angry.

      No. You did not give up your life to support his. You were a partnership. Your life and the life of the child were supported by the career of your husband. The world doesn’t owe you a living. People always must work to survive. It sounds like you are complaining about the ‘sacrifices’ you made. However they were YOUR choice. And frankly you did pretty well out of them because you survived and ate without earning a wage for many years. You instead chose to make a contribution looking after the children. How bloody dare you boast or complain about that or claim that you ‘did everything’. Grow up.

      I dearly wish I could give up my job and spend time at home looking after a child. I have had no more than 10 consecutive days off work my whole life. I have worked 15 hour days and 7 day weeks, as do many men, and to be honest it’s amazing how cheerfully we men put up with it. The lot of your average man is to work, often until he dies actually AT work. He makes huge and unappreciated sacrifices for the good of his family.

      Frankly, you sound spoiled and entitled and epitomise the attitude problem of many women today. I wouldn’t mind betting that you will be fighting for a large alimony payment to sustain the standard of living to which you feel that you are entitled. That sort of attitude makes me physically feel sick. It is disgusting and parasitic. This bizarre notion that women want equal pay, want equal rights, but at the same time want alimony payments, doors opening for them, meals paying for them and custody of the kids.

      As for the rest. ‘Be involved?’ . Are you serious? Have you even read the article or the text of some of the replies? The whole point is that plenty of men would like to be involved, but are barred from involvement by the malicious, vindictive actions of their ex-wives assisted by the family court system.

      1. Woah! This woman chose to have a family with a soldier. I hardly think we want to make marrying a military guy a bigger burden. Now, the divorce and the wife is a lazy shrew? This is the mother of his child, who was perfectly competent to be a single parent for months (years?) at a time. Now, he’s going to sue for custody? Who will care for the child when she goes to work to support them? Will he ask for a court order that doesn’t allow her to move? or is he still moving all the time and expecting expensive visitation by plane?

  13. Having been on both sides of this, I had trouble getting to see my daughter from her 3rd year until she was nine, when her mother started another family and decided she no longer wanted our child so she came to live with me, I can totally understand why some men do this. The pain and loss we suffer every time we have to give them back, having to rebuild the bond the next time we see them, listening to the mothers words spoken through the child, the utter heartbreak of the empty child’s bed, I could go on and on.
    When I was a teenager, my friend told me how his father had cut all ties, no longer being able to cope with the hurt of not seeing him enough, I was horrified, how could a parent be so selfish?
    In my deepest despair I finally understood.

    1. I am a grandmother who can completely understand why fathers walk away….it’s sheer frustration from spending a fortune on legal fees to get their rights of visiting with their children abused by vicious mothers who are only using the children as pawns. Why is it that when parents divorce they divide their assests 50/50 except for the children? Why are the fathers now having to fight to spend time with their children who are being brainwashed by the mother? Why is it that when the mother is in contempt, not a damn thing happens to her? What’s the point of having a court order when it’s not followed? Why can a woman file for a PFA using false allegations?
      I have spent more than I should have to have the rights of a grandparent to see their grandchild, only for him to be told that we are the bad ones who are keeping him from living with his mother. I didn’t create this situation, his mother did. His mother was the one who left him with us for 4 out of 7 days and then his mother signed over custody to his father 4 years ago but now wants to come back and have full control over all the people involved. Funny how holidays are just such a priority in their lives all of a sudden. I am criticizing the mothers because I can see why the fathers walk away….I don’t know why the mothers walk away, maybe someone can explain. I think the law needs to be changed and 2 people who agree to have a child together should know going into it they will automatically have 50/50 custody and willl be responsible for raising this child! Maybe more men will have less baby mamas and women won’t be using the children as pawns.

      1. YES THIS!! ” think the law needs to be changed and 2 people who agree to have a child together should know going into it they will automatically have 50/50 custody and willl be responsible for raising this child! Maybe more men will have less baby mamas and women won’t be using the children as pawns.”

        1. I am a single mother and raised my daughter solely without any support financially, emotionally, spiritually or physical presence in her life after divorce. I wish my ex would have made any type of effort to be present in his daughter’s life, so I commend any Father that is doing the “right thing” and making efforts to fight to be a part of your child’s life (even though you should not have to fight for this right). if the situation was reversed as a mother I would be fighting for my child as well. This is a great article with lots of interesting discussion. I agree with Emma regarding the 50/50 Custody and responsibility for the children. I feel for this Dad, especially if all of what he is saying is true. This is a sad situation especially for the children who are the Biggest Losers. This is not usually the case though for so many other situations with absentee parents (mom or dad) and there are always 2 sides to every story and the (God honest truth side). There are a lot of judgmental comments and people tend to be condescending towards others until they experience it from the other side. Great to hear another perspective. Kudos to Dads that are doing what they are supposed to and being involved in your child’s life, no matter what.

  14. Hi John you’re story is so similar to what my son has experienced. His ex is also “fearful for her life and the lives of her children’ As a grandmother I haven’t seen my two grandsons in two years. My son hasn’t seen his boys in two years. We are heartbroken. His ex got sole guardianship without his knowledge as she said he was an absentee father and had never supported the boys (my son has had them at least 500 times since they divorced in 2012) she also had a protection order against him (ex parte) all made up. She had the help of a private adoption agency who believed all her lies. When she got sole guardianship she changed their names removing his name from the birth certificate. She changed them to her boyfriends name. A few months later they married and the new husband adopted the boys. My son has been fighting in court provincial and supreme but it is so very slow and the full extent of her deceit just isn’t believed. Everyone says how is this possible while I’m sure they think somehow he must have signed away his rights. His heart is not able to give up as yet but the cost is overwhelming. He is now living in a suite in my basement while paying for two lawyers.
    I must say I am very tired and at my age all I want to do is spend nice quiet times with my grandchildren, I would love to take them for a walk. The ex got a protection order against me too, saying I was following them, I don’t drive at night or very fast but she had no problem getting the order, now I have to carry it in my purse at all times. The reason for this is obvious you can’t see the children when there is a protection order. I just hope the children will remember some of the good times with us and won’t be too brainwashed by their mother and new Dad.

  15. I hear echoes of my own story in John G.’s statement. My appearance was almost exactly the same, except that in my case I could not afford a good lawyer (she was the primary professional money earner), and she could afford the best. I had a clean criminal record, no history of abuse and always considered myself something of an old-fashioned gentleman when it came to women. None the less, I also got branded with the “danger to the mom” label and I was forced to endure two years of “supervised visitation” before I could even begin to have standard twice-a-week visitation.

    For the women out there it might be hard to explain just how emasculating and infuriating it was to a proud man and father to be “overseen” as a dad by a (always female) junior social worker during time with your child, told what and where you can be with your child (like you were a misbehaving child), have your child told “Daddy can’t take you out of the room, to the bathroom,etc.”. I had to drive 3-hours to see my son in this environment for 45 mins a time, twice a month for two-years, in this fashion. When I wished to take my son out on outing, I had to beg a special committee of female social workers for the “privilege”, and had to pay for a social worker to walk behind me and my child in public.

    I also experienced reaching the “crossroads with four paths” that John mentioned, Suicide, Violence/Anger, A Constant Battle/Pain, or Give Up. Our society taught my generation that men were supposed to be pro-active, we DID things about situations that were difficult or intolerable. Facing an experience that was at one soul-crushing and to which the only legal option was acceptance was extremely psychologically and morally difficult. For a long time I hovered around suicide, I thought about violence and possible direct action. I simply could not stand the fact of being denied my son and it all being perfectly legal and from the attitudes to the judges and social workers I encountered, business as usual and “perfectly legitimate, as your just the father” as one judge told me in a later hearing.

    In the end, leaving was not an option. The way I was raised, the very “must do something about this” attitude that so tormented me and left me in the suicide/violence circle, would not allow me to leave my child even if heaven and earth were aligned against me. I studied family law, something in a “prison lawyer” fashion, and forced more pro-se hearings, slowly chipping away for more access and visitation. I remain in that cycle today, always fighting-never quitting or giving up. In my heart I realize I will never “win”, that my son will turn 18 and become an adult before I ever get the joint-custody I long for.

    Until then, again as John said, I take the gut punch every time a visit ends and my son hugs me and slowly walks across the parking lot to his mom’s car pulling his little suitcase behind him. I return to my apartment and as John quoted from Shakespeare look at his empty room for a long time.

    “Grief fills the room up of my absent child,
    Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me,
    Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words,
    Remembers me of all his gracious parts,
    Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form;”

    1. Ryan – that’s a heck of a sad story. I admire your courage. The social worker aspect would have made me incandescent with rage. It is hard when the world is against you.

      I do have to ask though – If you *know* that you will never win your fight for joint custody (and frankly – having been there – I know why you say that) then you have to ask yourself whether continuing to fight is the most sensible thing to do – it’s always important in any battle to know when to cut your losses and retreat. If you have access to spend time with the child then perhaps it’s time to just count your blessings and take a break from conflict.

      I’ll just say that personally – I found that fighting became part of my life – and was constantly on my mind. You could say that it almost became a security blanket. I have always felt that too much of that prevented me from moving on, and had an impact on my friends, partners & family, and on the child too..

      Good luck.

  16. I’m sorry this is happening to you. I’ve experienced much of this in my life. Nothing I could say would be helpful. I know some things about myself: Counseling helped. I try to keep myself presently focused in the here and now. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. I soak up every single moment I get with my kids as if it were the last. I never lie to my kids. I never make a promise I don’t KNOW for sure I can keep and I ALWAYS keep my promises to them. I call and call and text and text weather I get an answer or not. I never say one bad word to them about their mother. NEVER! When I feel like I need to justify my actions or defend myself from her in response to something the kids say, I don’t. It’s none of their business what I think about what she said. The most I ever say is “well, that sounds like grown-up business and kids shouldn’t have to worry about grown-up stuff” or “I’m not sure who’s telling you those things but does that sound like something you’ve ever seen Dad do with your own eyes or heard me say with your own ears?” I do my best to teach my kids to believe the ACTIONS people take and not the WORDS they say. I leave it up to them to decide if what she is saying, does or does not match what they see me doing. I love them and I show them, I tell them, I act like it and I do it. It’s all I have. It’s all I can do. The rest…her words, her actions, how they affect my world, how they affect me, that’s up to me. I changed my world to minimize her contact and effect on it. I have to let it go. Even a LOT of time lost with my kids, I HAD to let that go. If I let that turn me into a toxic, unhealthy man, all I would be is everything she said I am. That’s NOT me and it will never be me. I define me…not she.

    1. This happens to many mother’s now too it isn’t just females turning kids against the other parent. I know this personally. I try to just enjoy the little time I see my son. I call and text daily also even if there is no response. Now I just try to focus on being the best me I can and hopefully one day my kids will see through all the lies that their Dad tells the.

  17. I know this pain all too well. I hated the fact that I was putting my children through a divorce, I decided I would do whatever it took to make the divorce as easy as possible on them, and to make sure they still had a good dad in their lives. Then, when my children were first taken from me, I vowed I would fight to see them until my dying breath. Now it has been five years of no contact, and I can’t go on any longer. The constant grief eats me up from the time I wake up, until the time I go to sleep. My work suffers, my relationships suffer, my health suffers. If I don’t find a way to disengage, I won’t survive. I will end up damaging every relationship I have, and I will end up taking my own life. Hope is no longer a comfort to me, rather it is a hand in the graveyard, rising from the ground, grasping my ankle and preventing me from leaving.
    https://walter-singleton.com/2017/02/04/to-envy-those-who-grieve/

    1. Walter – I’m sorry for your situation.
      It resonated with me because for a long time I’ve felt that my child is effectively dead.
      I won’t offer you trite advice because you will have heard it all before.

      One final thought about the suicide option though if I may.

      I too thought long and hard about suicide and even made plans for it at one especially low point, but the thing that stopped me was that I had always promised myself that before suicide, I should be totally prepared to walk out of my apartment, sell all my possessions, leave my job and everyone I knew, and fly to another country far away and start again.

      If you’re not willing to do all of that. Then you’re not ready to die. And if you ARE willing to do the above, then rather than die, get a plane ticket. You might find happiness. When you’re that low you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain.

      During that time in my life, I lost my wife, child, house, job and both parents. But I still had my health and now, five years later, I have a new wife, job and outlook and things are a hell of a lot better than I thought they could possibly ever be.

  18. “Note that in cases where ‘standard’ visitation is awarded — every-other-weekend — fathers become depressed and non-involved, and within 3 years, one study found, 40 percent of children in an unequal visitation arrangement had lost complete touch with their non-custodial parents, which are nearly always the father.”
    It would be brilliant to know the source. Please be so kind to provide the reference.

  19. Dear all,
    thank you for sharing those thoughts and stories.
    In the entry of this post, Emma says, there are two assumptions.

    ” 1.Men are irresponsible douchbags who abandon their children to mothers, who are left to raise the children with few resources, or …
    2. Women are conniving, malicious, entitled nut-jobs who alienate fathers from their children while taking all said fathers’ money — all of which is supported by the family court system.”

    I’m afraid, in most of these posts, only the second view is seen. I don’t understand why mothers are stated as lazy beings, taking the father’s money but refusing him to see their children.
    I am also pro self-resposibility, but that’s not the answer to every problem.

    And no, I did NOT agree, that my ex husband suddenly stops working and leaves me alone with the financial resposibility. Here in Germany, only 25% percent of single parents (mainly women) get the financial support they are entiteled to (not for themselves, for their children!). And that is not just because most women alienate their children.
    Some do, but so do some fathers.

    I don’t know how that’s in the US, but that’s also a problem of a court system, that doesn’t do enough to ensure that children get their financial support.

    My Ex and me share custody at about 40/60%, I never speak bad about him or alienate him in any way. But the financial resposibility is on my shoulders only.
    The poor guy is just too tired and stressed out to work properly… while I work extra hours and ensure my son’s living.

    That doesn’t make me a man-hater. But you can’t just say “You agreed to raise the children, so it’s your problem, if you’re left and get poor!” A new way of thinking is required, which empowers women in their carreer and men to engage more in fatherhood. But those are political topics, too. In Germany, the tax system sill rewards the classic division – one working and earning a lot, the other earning nothing or only little: best way to save taxes! :-(
    That has to change!!!

    Best wishes to everyone and I’m sorry for all alienated fathers and for all left-alone mothers. We must fight for a heavy change

    (please exuse any mistakes, I’m not a native speaker).

  20. We go through this. It’s so heartbreaking. My husbands ex is a classic narcissist. Technically according to our CO he’s supposed to see them on his days off which actually results in more than 4 days a month. Does anyone think we actually get that? NO. Depending on her mood we might go a month or two without seeing them because “they have plans, how can you hurt them and tell them they can’t go through with their plans” which ends up with the kids upset and not knowing what to do or say. But if that child support is a day late (it’s through the state not us even!) by gosh our phones ring and we had better call child support office.

    It is emotionally exhausting. Our kids are constantly told how horrible my husband is and she even did this while they were married- that’s emotional abuse of children but do the courts care? No because moms are automatically better right? Before she cheated and divorced she was telling the kids that daddy just doesn’t love them anymore.

    So while we still try and at least ask for our rightful time it does get to a point where you quit calling 20 times a day because no one ever answers unless they want something. Can’t be bothered to get our actual parenting time but can always be hit up for money in addition to the CS that is always paid. So unless someone has walked a mile in an alienated parents shoes they have no room to talk. And yes I’m talking alienated parents, not deadbeat parents.

  21. I have read through many of these comments and although some points do hold validity Id like to share a different perspective.

    I left me husband a few years ago as the environment had become one that was unhealthy emotionally for my children. When I married my husband I intended on us growing old together and watching our grand babies run around us. I didn’t foresee the writing on the wall and it was by no means an easy choice and in fact I fought hard to keep my family together for more then 2 years before I made the final decision.

    One thing I have said all along to my ex-husband is that children need both parents in their lives. Don’t get me wrong we have had some rocky roads we have overcome and Im sure their will be more. However, our priority is always the children, their wellbeing and mental health.

    Children are not a tool or a possession for anyone and unfortunately this does happen in separation. When I married my ex-husband he also had a child from a previous relationship that he was supporting so I have lived in both worlds and have seen injustices from each angle.

    Equal contribution emotionally, physically and financially is the commitment we made when we became parents and this does not change due to separation.

    The child support systems are different worldwide and I truly believe that none of our nations have got it right. Our society has become one where blended families are the norm. Realistically Im not sure they ever will, when people are dealing with 2 of the most sort after things in their world, Children and Money – Emotions will always play a big part, and conflict is inevitable no matter how hard you attempt to avoid it.

    We live in a society of high stress, high demand, instant gratification and ridiculously high percentages of mental health concerns. I say to anyone and everyone, mothers – fathers or children ..If for any reason you as a child feel you are affected due to the relationship breakdown or you have concerns for yourself or your child you should seek help.

    If communication is not possible seek a 3rd party that can mediate between you without the heavy price tag.

    I also don’t blame this father for making his decision. I have an uncle that did the same thing many years ago and unfortunately never had any further children and he has reconnected with his daughter and although he has lost many years with her he is proud to now be a grandfather to her children.

    If I can offer any advice I would simply say this. Remove your emotions from the communications and keeps things factual and also relevant to the children. The affect decisions have on them and why.

    In separation and unconscious power struggle always happens and out emotions set off a cycle that can run like a mouse on a wheel if one party can’t see it and make changes.

  22. John- First let me start by saying my heart hurts for you, I’m so sorry that life has dealt you these cards. I found your post to be very eye opening and gave me another look at the father’s point of view. I truly believe in what you wrote about a mother feeling like the child is more hers over the father. Which is completely false. Both mother and father created that life and they should share the responsibility of the life as long as they are living and able to do so. I hope one day we will stop hearing these stories and finally have equal rights across the boards, I hope we stop giving judges (complete strangers) the right to dictate what they believe is best for these children. I hope one day you will get the relationship you’ve always wanted with your child.

    1. Thank you Alexis. That’s very kind. The whole process was an eye opener for me too.
      I used to truly believe in the concept of the law and the notion of ‘justice’. No longer. Without putting it too strongly, I now have the utmost contempt for the law. And this is me speaking as a very highly educated and law abiding professional man.

      It took my divorce case to make me realize that the American court system is not about truth or justice. It’s about which side has the most money, and is willing to twist the truth & tell the most lies without being found out. On one occasion, my ex-wife actually had third parties testify and sign affidavits that I had received some papers in the lobby of my apartment building. The only problem with that is that I was miles away at the time. Even though I had ATM receipts showing me at that location, because I didn’t have an independent witness with me, it was assumed that I was lying. But the fact is, that I was telling the truth. I had discovered to my cost that it’s very very hard to disprove a lie. How could I disprove my ex-wife’s claim that I had threatened to kill her and dissolve her body in acid? I didn’t do that – but I couldn’t prove that I hadn’t. It’s kind of alarming – you can imagine this sort of thing happening in a more serious matter… if people are willing to lie in a miserable divorce case – then surely they will lie when the stakes are bigger.

      Anyways. Thank you for your kind words. Don’t break your heart too much for me. My life has taken an upward turn, as is often the way. Everything will turn out right in the end.

  23. John G…thank you for sharing your experience. I have the unfortunate experience of having to deal EXACTLY with this type of dynamic you refer to…and for 10+ years. The silver lining I would suggest is when that child comes of age and finds out the truth and makes an effort to reestablish what should under any situation aside from actual endangerment be normal and continuous access…it becomes a vindication of sorts of all the suffering that has been endured.

    I only wish I had come to that realization earlier as a lot of my older relatives told me that I would have to simply “let it go”. It was hard for me because of how much I loved my children but I had to come to the realization that many of us have had to come to…that being that you can’t pour from an empty cup.

    1. Absolutely. There has to be a point where the price is too high to continue the fight, no matter how unpalatable that may be. I intend to learn that lesson before the wasted years and not after.

  24. “WHAT DO YOU THINK? ARE YOU A DAD WHO NO LONGER SEES HIS KIDS? WHY?”

    *Raises hand*

    Men are vilified and viewed as disposable; they’re nothing more than human wallets as far as custodial mothers, child suppoort divisions, and society in general are concerned.

    After seven years of being a good non-custodial father the Family Court unilaterally stripped me- an average, educated, professionally employed, law-abiding (no drugs, crimes, alcoholism, promiscuity, abuse, neglect, weirdness, etc.), basically good citizen that tried “to do the right thing”- of all parental rights, responsibilities, and obligations EXCEPT for providing money and insurance coverage. What other conclusion can be reached? Get this: the Court Order said for visitation I’d have to ask the Suppoort System for permission, scheduling, and oversight! They eagerly installed themselves as “the other parent” and it seemed I, the father, had fewer rights than a common criminal or random stranger from the street. When I called the doctor to find out what their bill for my child was about, they refused to tell me. When I called the school to find out how my child was doing, they wouldn’t tell me either. When I called the child’s mother for an explanation she hung up on me. When I used to try to explain to people how dads are victimized they closed their minds right off because who cares what a “deadbeat” thinks. See?

    There was no need to involve the Suppoort System in the first place as I, of my own volition had been paying 1/2 the mutually agreed upon costs of supporting the child and doing the visitation thing from the start. The child’s mother eventually decided to use the System as a weapon to punish me for my failure to provide a wedding ring. They have an amazing array of weapons at their disposal and they sadistically enjoy deploying them… but they always made sure to say, “It’s in the best interests of the child”. Come to think of it men are more than mere wallets; we serve a useful purpose as good whipping boys for all that pent-up female frustration and anger… or something… and the courts and society get off on it too. Hey, somebody has to take the heat because it sure wasn’t the fault of those poor, pretty, innocent girls. Oh- and the Legal System is all about Justice. /sarcasm

    Speaking of fault, I can’t think of any other legal matter where the actions of one party cause the OTHER party to be held wholly liable. You’d think that by default a conception would incur 50/50 liability at least as a baseline but the Suppoort System is (or was years ago when I was in it) set for more like 100 male/0 female financial liability, or even 200 male/-100 female liability if the female got a well-salaried male on the hook and he believes the support money is disproportionately benefiting her more than the child. “Wealthysinglemommy” never fails to make me snicker a little, because so many mommys fancy fetching unearned income on the backs of the victims of their little child bearing/wedding day schemes. No, having physical custody of the child(ren) is not a compensable job especially if she wanted her egg fertilized.

    You see, as a student at the time I indicated from the start of the relationship that I did NOT want to be a student parent and all forms of non-permanent contraception including abstinence were on the table. She assured me she could not get pregnant because reasons. I didn’t have 100% confidence in that so continued to use condoms until SHE said not to because, “It feels soooooo much better without them!”. This is where my gut feeling kicked in telling me unprotected sex was ominously, obviously risky for a couple desiring no kids but much to my later chagrin I rationalized that, “If ya can’t trust your girlfriend, who can you trust?” After all, she said she loved me.

    I learned the hard way you can’t trust your girlfriend, at least with these matters. Look at any blog: the poor, pretty, innocent girls- and the Knights On White Horses- will tell you: If you didn’t want babies you should have kept it in your pants. It’s the man’s fault even if it’s her mistake… or lie. That’s one reason why there was no wedding ring. I may never know the truth of whether she was mistaken or lying but either way she could no longer be trusted. Anybody think marrying a person you can’t trust is a good idea?

    Of course the child didn’t ask for any of this but as noted, I tried for years to bond and overcome all the negative energy but as John G. more eloquently put it, you can only be punished so much for so long before you reach the breaking point. Were I not subjected to so much antagonism, belittlement, and gratuitous sadism, the outcome could have been very, very different.

  25. My experience

    I’m basically on the verge of giving up, i was only with my ex for a very short time, In that time i became a father and she became a mother for the second time. We worked hard to make things work between us, but she lead me to believe that we could be together again but only because she wanted things out of me. After about a year and a half of battling with her shes given up on me, shes got that i dont care do what you want attitude. Iv noticed iv became a recluse and my life has become work and see my son. I’m pretty sure I’m detaching myself from it because i want to be the selfish person i once was and Work hard gym hard and go on adventures. But at the same time i feel guilty if i take this path. I’m fed up with the arguments and and consent “your days are your days with your son” I’m just like… when do i get time for me? In the evening after work or the mornings i.have off? It doesn’t seem fair to me,

    I’m I’m shift worker and i only get the odd weekend off… is it fair i.have my son every weekend i don’t think it is. This causes moor rows with my ex and she then gets it.her way and i see my son only for him to be with a depressed father.. some one point me in the right direction because I’m so close to walking away from this.

  26. Hammer, nail and head comes to mind when reading this article. My children have been turned into their mother’s puppets for the purpose of reeking anger and hatred.
    I too had to take the decision to turn my back as things were only getting worse and never getting better or easier. Emails that would go on forever but actually have no point or purpose. Threats of court action (to which i hoped would happen to prove a point). Never a dad to child conversation allowed. Even one time I was told my daughter was in hospital when she was in fact at home, upon entering the house I was locked in and not allowed to leave and even given a coffee made with the ex wifes urine in it……
    The last phone call was scripted by the ex with the children saying they were alone knowing that they were on speaker phone and being told what to say…. how many 13 year olds want to discuss financial matters with their dad?
    I’m sure this has given the banshee a reason to spin more untruths to gain the support of the children and her clique but for being one who will no longer fight her war of words and unrealistic demands and strange behaivour I took the decission to wash my hands and let them lead what ever life they choose and make for themselves.
    When people say in conversation that one day it will be all good with the children again…. I say to myself ‘i doubt it’ and to be honset with all the violence and threats toward myself and now partner would I ever want any involvement again?
    My life has moved on, I can honestly say I am the happiest I have been for 20 years. I certainly am not any richer…. just a whole lot happier!

  27. Its easier for a man to walk away. They haven’t had someone growing inside of them for 9 months. They dont go through hormonal, physical, psychological, and chemical changes.
    The reality is men and women are very different. Their biological make up is even different. Men should be empathetic to the loss a woman feels when having to part from her kids as women should be empathetic to men who are no longer around their children daily. But healing has to take place to get both parties to a place of piece and that opportunity isn’t given, well get ready for a fight.

  28. Divorce is aweful. Its isolating and it’s violating, it’s degrading. Some one has initiated the break up of a family and that’s something that shouldn’t be entered lightly. Once again, healing has to take place. Whethee its abuse, cheating, disrespect any and all of those things bring pain to both parties. Then one party decides I dont want to deal with the disappointment and hurt I’ve created, so lets just go our own way. More than likely, divorce isn’t what the other party wanted and more thsn likely, one parties feelings are not being addressed. Bring kids into and you’re expected to floas over the fact that your family has fallen apart and the dynamic of your partnership, family is about to change. Kids will be shipped back and forth, and depending on the ages and what they were exposed to, as adults and parents, you are supposed to teach them resilliance and compassion and love. Jumping into a peaceful place is a lie and unrealistic.
    Therr has to be open dialogue and honesty. If you were wrong, say that. If you don’t think you were, listen to why your partner feels that way. Once disrespecting starts, men and women, kiss your kids goodbye. You will lose the first thing offering them solice and love. We have to be more responsible for each other, even in a separation.

  29. I think I’m fortunate from the male standpoint that my wife basically was forced to give me the kids because she knows she will get destroyed in court. There are no words to describe the hell our relationship has been the past 4 years because of her drug addiction. Even our daughter was born addicted because of her.

    However there is still a human being there that is broken. I’ve tried many days thinking the courts were still going to find a way to ruin me. I was the single breadwinner and a health care professional who provided everything and some and it wasn’t good enough to keep the marriage together and her to be able to find coping skills for her problems. She just stopped coming home one day and I found out from my 5 year old that she was playing “kisses” with another guy. Awesome huh?

    We just went to mediation and she practically gave me everything. I feel bad for my kids. She fits the stereotype of the dead beat parent who has a son who asks where she is and every day I take him off the school bus, his sadness crushes my soul. I’ve run out of excuses. To make matters worse he has high functioning autism.

    I had so much anxiety because of the thoughts of the sexist courts ruining my relationship with my kids and her ability to be “rewarded” with high amounts of alimony and child support for her bad behavior. While the order hasn’t been signed yet, I’m still elated that she and I agreed on everything in my favor. I will be nervous until the day it gets signed by a judge which is hopefully soon. The anxiety has been so bad I had to admit myself to the ER twice for heart issues.

    Society says a man should be there but then literally destroys him and takes away all self worth and dignity all the while often the ex parades around with her trophies(s) and money and everything else. They want to talk about the idea of gender inequality? How about instead of modern day vitriolic man hating feminism, we at least throw the idea out that the family court system is blindly exist and needs to be addressed. Remember its all about the kids, right? Or was it ever….

What do you think? Please comment!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *