My ex and I have a 4 year old daughter and a 2 year old son together. Our divorce states that he is to pay child support and have the children every other weekend and on certain holidays. He pays child support, but he refuses to take the children every other weekend. Instead, he goes four to five months without seeing them and then drops by on one of his weekends and takes them. This is starting to cause emotional problems with both of them. Our daughter has always been extremely close to him. She wants to see him and gets really excited about going to his house and spending time with him. However, he is full of empty promises to come and get her and she is broken hearted every time he doesn't show up. It also really affects her when he shows up out of nowhere, takes her with him on Friday, and then walks right back out of her life on Sunday. She always wants to know why he never came back to get her and why she can't go and see him. I do my best to explain things to her without putting him down and making her feel worse, but a few months later he'll pop right back into her life and confuse her again.As for our son, his father is almost like a stranger to him. He only saw him twice for the first 6 months of his life. When my ex drops by for his visit with them every 4-5 months, our son does not want to go with him. He cries when they leave and cries for the entire weekend. I don't want to make him go, but he is paying child support and I have no choice.This can't be healthy for our children. In my opinion, being a father is an all or nothing job. I think he should take his visits as he is supposed to or just sign over all rights to me. I realize I would lose child support if he signed over all rights, but I have to do what is best for them. I don't want him to walk out of their life forever, but I have to wonder if that could be any worse than what they are going through now. Is there anything I can do to force him to take his visitation with them or sign over rights if he doesn't? I live in Alabama if that helps on any state laws.I am sorry for such a long post, but I really need some advice on this. It is breaking my heart to see my babies so upset when there is nothing I can do to make it better! Thanks for taking the time to read this and thanks in advance for any advice you can offer.
answer: What's best for the kids is to keep their dad in their life as much as possible. Kids will follow your attitude on this, so if you stay positive then you're doing your kids a big favor. When your kids are older, they will figure things out for themselves and if dad is still a flake when they are teenagers, they'll probably refuse to see him when they are old enough to make that choice. Until then, change your attitude and teach them some coping skills. You can set the expectations so there's less disappointment if he doesn't show up. You can have a Plan B -- something else to do that's just as fun -- if he doesn't show up. It will also help to keep your personal feelings on the matter to yourself when your children are present or within ear shot. If they hear you speaking poorly of their father, it will influence how they feel and they will remember it when they are older. So take the high road. As far as dealing with your ex, I'd take extra measures to call him during the week to remind him when it's time for visitation. It's not ideal and it's sad that you need to do it, but it sounds like he needs the extra push to put his kids at the top of his agenda. But if you take a positive attitude with him and remind him how much the children need their father and how much you appreciate him when he is involved with the children -- you might be able to work through this without going to court or escalating the situation. Your end goal is to get him to understand he is needed and his children are number one. You don't need a judge for that. You need tons of patience and a loving, supportive attitude. People do change. Someday he will probably thank you for not allowing him to walk out on those kids. And someday your kids will thank you for doing all you could to keep dad involved. Good luck. You have your work cut out for you.
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