My child’s father is inconsistent, should I ask him to stay away until he decides to change?

by Darla M.

My daughter is 10 and we live 3.5 hours away from her father. He does have moments where he come Most of the time he is just wish washy when it comes to his role in her life. He calls her once every 1-2 months to say hi and then finds a reason to get off of the phone. She calls him and talks about him all the time. When she calls him he either doesn’t answer, hands the phone to one of his other kids after a couple of minutes, or says he’ll call her back and never does (every time) or he’ll tell her to call him back. She seems to not be effected by it (yet) but it makes me very upset. It seems as if he wants her to pursue a relationship with him only rather than the other way around.

He has 4 other children, and is now married (2 children with his wife) so I try to be compassionate about the fact that he has a wife and other children but my daughter gets no effort from him. He even told her that she is his 2nd favorite child, I don’t know why, ( she was happy to hear this but I was not) and that broke my heart that he would tell any of his children this, especially his daughter.

He sometimes asks for her to come and visit and she’ll ask us both a lot if she can visit him, which I allow because I don’t want to get in the way of them building a relationship but it’s inconsistent and he never respects my parenting wishes when she is with him even after we discuss and make verbal agreements. She is rarely in his care when she is with him and he never follows through with his parenting commitments we agree on for when she’s with him. He shuts down when I ask if we can create a parenting plan in the first place and he is clear in his actions that he does not want to work with me. I try to communicate with him but he shuts me out and just says ok over and over or says that he doesn’t have anything to say. He goes above and beyond for his oldest child in everything, and is present with his other children and leaves my daughter hanging and rejects her when she asks for the same things.

My daughter loves her dad so much but he shows the opposite for her and even though she doesn’t display any hurt when he rejects and neglects her I know the wound will grow over time and it hurts for me to watch. I want to just keep her away but I don’t know if that’s the right thing to do.

What should I do? How do I co parent with someone that picks and chooses when he wants to be a dad to our daughter? I call to encourage him to be there for her and he says he works a lot and is busy but to keep flaking on her or neglecting her weeks at a time is unacceptable to me. Is it wrong for me to want to take control of the situation and tell him to stay out of her life if he’s going to be inconsistent? Or will that be the wrong thing to do? I want to do the right thing.

Thank you for listening and I hope to get some advice.

Comments for My child’s father is inconsistent, should I ask him to stay away until he decides to change?

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Inconsistent Participation from Dad
by: Sara

Hi Darla!

I can feel your pain and concern in your words. I am so sorry.

It sounds like you have done so much to try to be a bridge between the 2 of them. Is there any chance this man is a narcissist and is enjoying the power he feels he has in the situation? I ask here because if that is the motivation, your asking him to get it together could be, in his mind, quite enjoyable. If this is the case, pulling back a bit would be the way to go.

It doesn't sound like he's going to change his behavior. Given this, shifting the focus from him to your daughter might be better use of your time.

She's sounds like a wonderful and loving child. Well done, Momma!

You have the right to ask for advanced notice and follow through from the father, and you have the responsibility to monitor the impact of the situation on your daughter, and support her in the ways that make the most sense. You also don't have any responsibility to accomodate the demands of all of his other children on his time. If the situation were reversed you would figure out how to spend time with all of your children. He can do that too.

If you can, stay as neutral as possible in your conversations with this father. Let him know the parameters, and that if the relationship pattern becomes harmful to his daughter, you will intervene. It sounds like he is old enough and dad-experienced enough to understand how to act appropriately as a parent, and he is making a decision to do otherwise. He needs to understand he can only go so far in any particular direction.

I am big on not making decisions until they are necessary, and there is no need to decide today whether or not to cut him off. Continue to monitor and act accordingly as situations rise. If you ever need to make this decision, it will be obvious to you.

Continue creating an amazing childhood for your daughter and dad shows up...that's great.

I wish you and your daughter the very best!


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