My daughter's father is very inconsistent should I not allow my daughter to see him?

by Michelle
(Burlingame, California)

Hi all single moms!
Background: My dad died when I was 3 and I grew up with a second dad who was pretty harsh.

Fast forward to today. My daughter is 4.5 and loves her dad, however; he's very inconsistent in seeing her. Threatened when I have a new boyfriend to never see her again and often chooses work over her. When they spend time together it's hit or miss. He takes her to fun places but keeps her out too late and she gets cranky.

When she misbehaves he brings her to me or he gets very embarrassed and tells her shes a bad girl. He does rarely reprimand her. She is used to no boundaries with him. She even hit him in front if me and he says nothing except she needs to see a therapist. He says it's all my fault.
She's a spirited child and I put down boundaries with her.

Also when he does see her he asks for money to feed her because he says he has no money.
What do I do?

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Hit and Miss Dad
by: Ask Sara

Hey there Michelle!

Wow! You certainly have your hands full...at least once in a while.

I get it. You would like your child to have an opportunity to have a good relationship with her father. Especially...because you didn't. However; dad isn't making that an easy thing to accomplish.

It sounds to me like there are a few things going on here:
1. Dad isn't very equipped to be responsible.
2. Dad doesn't really know how to parent well.
3. Dad is afraid if there is someone new, he is going to be replaced.

So, we'll start at the bottom. You are going to need to provide regular assurance to him that he will always have a place in his daughter's life.

You might want to suggest some parenting options. Something like, "I know our baby girl can be a handful at times. Here's what works for me..."

Assure him that there is no reason to be embarrassed. Kids sometimes do goofy things and while you want to crawl in a hole because you feel like everyone is looking at you, there is no need. IF anyone is looking, they are thinking, "Poor guy. I remember when my kids did that."

Finally, you don't have to pay for the child's food. Suggest less expensive outings, such as a packed lunch at the park. Remind him that he doesn't need to be buying slurpies and ice cream cones. Something simple and healthy will do the trick. He may want to bring along some snacks such as a baggie of cereal, etc. At her age, her food should not cost much.

There is no need, or legal reason, to cut him off. He's coming around, but seems to be inconsistent because he can't figure this whole single dad thing out. (And he may really need to work.) If you can help him out, you will have succeeded in giving your daughter a positive relationship with her dad. That is an incredible gift!

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