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AlmiraGulch

A Parenting Not-So-Hypothetical

What Should Custodial Parent Do?  

91 members have voted

  1. 1. Should the custodial parent have a discussion with the kids about the facts of the circumstances?

    • Yes
      83
    • No
      8
  2. 2. Should the custodial parent allow the kids to visit the non-custodial parent for an extended time (3-4 weeks) out of state?

    • Yes
      25
    • No
      66


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Parents are divorced. The custodial parent decides to take legal action against the non-custodial parent for non-payment of child support. Non-custodial parent doesn't "officially" work, so the likelihood that the custodial parent will recover any money is slim. The non-custodial parent is on probation, so there may be legal ramifications for failure to pay.

 

None of this has been discussed with the children by the custodial parent, but the non-custodial parent has told the children that the custodial parent is "trying to get him/her to go to jail", and so the kids may or may not get to see him/her over the summer, as planned, because of the actions of the other parent. NC parent is also bad-mouthing custodial parent to the kids, but in a passive-aggressive way, saying things like "you know I do everything I can to support you but I just can't do it right now" (or for the last 4 years, but kids don't know that), and "I wish your [custodial parent] wouldn't do this, but he/she is so I don't know what I'm going to do".

 

If you were the custodial parent:

 

1. Would you finally have a conversation with the kids, just to give them the facts that the other parent has broken the law, or would you remain silent? Assume that the kids are building up quite a resentment toward the custodial parent based on the statements of the NC parent.

 

2. The custodial parent fears that if he/she allows the children to visit with the non-custodial parent, who lives out of state, for an extended period of time over the summer that the relationship could be further damaged as the other parent "poisons" them. On the other hand, if custodial parent doesn't, the relationship could be further damaged because the custodial parent will certainly look like the "bad guy". Assume there is no court order forcing the allowance. Would you allow them to go?

 

Edited to add: Please explain the reason for your votes, if you're so inclined.

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I'd talk to the kids so that they would have both sides to the story.

 

I would express my reasoning that I didn't want them to be around someone that was so disrespectful of a parent for so long because attitudes are so contagious.

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1--Please discuss this with your kids, especially your 16 year old. She is old enough to see through what is going on and you not telling her could make her feel betrayed and solidify in her mind everything being told.

 

2--No, if there is no court telling me I must and NC is being a donkey-butt, he does not get to see the kids, period.

 

3--If you have papers to prove your side of things, show your kids. Show them the proof. Your 9 year old may not quite understand, but she'll get it in time. Your 16 year old WILL understand and can help the 9 year old understand.

 

Oh and I'd tell donkey-butt to lay off the bad mouthing. None of it is true and he knows it. I've got the knickers to do this, so I'm not afraid to tell him to back off.

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If these "hypothetical" children are the ages of your dc, yes, I would have a discussion with them. They are old enough to comprehend it, especially the older.

 

No, I would not let them go. If there is no court order, and the NC parent is being a detriment to the dc, then the NC parent can do without the visit unless said parent wants to travel to the state the dc are in.

 

If the NC parent cannot afford to help support the dc, then how will NC parent be able to feed/house/clothe them for several weeks while visiting?

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I would definitely have the conversation. As for visitation, I don't know. Can you legally not allow it?

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I would have a very simple converstation that nc has "misinformed" them. you "can't make nc go to jail, only the law can make nc go to jail. and only if nc has is found to have done things that are against the law." (I would try to stress that if nc hadn't done anything wrong - nc wouldn't have any fear of going to jail either. iow: nc knows nc's done things that are illegal.)

 

I wouldn't want nc being alone with the kids, unless there was a court order. nc is putting kids in the middle, and manipulating them. they may not appreciate how they're being messed with now, but when they're adults hopefully they'll have appreciation you tried to protect them from that.

 

eta: with the 16yo - you can be more forthcoming depending upon maturity level.

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What makes everyone think they're mine? I did say it was (not-so) hypothetical. :tongue_smilie:

 

Ok, so let's say they are mine. That would make them almost 17, and 10. Yes, there are papers to show what should have been paid. No, he hasn't paid. He tells the kids that he is "trying" to find work. The truth is he can't get work because of a criminal record. Sorry, but that doesn't excuse you from supporting your kids in my book. Also, he is working, but is paid cash under the table. So if we were to go to court they will likely alter the judgement saying I make a lot of money, he makes none, so he will have to pay next to nothing. That's actually fine with me, although I do think he may have to pay some of his arrears since the judgement has not yet been officially altered.

 

My main concern here are my (hypothetical!) kids. I don't want them to not have a relationship with their father, and they're actually very close. On the other hand, it's not cheap to raise them, and he does have money now. He just chooses to spend it on other things. I don't care if he pays me $10 a month if that's all he has, as long as he pays it every month, consistently, without my having to ask for it. I mean that. I've had that discussion with him several times but he does nothing about it. I'm tired. And I'm tired of him making me look like an evil person to my daughters. Also, my husband is becoming resentful, as he does whatever he has to to support his kids and can't understand why my ex doesn't. I'm not prepared to damage my marriage by not holding my ex-husband accountable.

 

So frustrating.

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If these "hypothetical" children are the ages of your dc, yes, I would have a discussion with them. They are old enough to comprehend it, especially the older.

 

No, I would not let them go. If there is no court order, and the NC parent is being a detriment to the dc, then the NC parent can do without the visit unless said parent wants to travel to the state the dc are in.

 

If the NC parent cannot afford to help support the dc, then how will NC parent be able to feed/house/clothe them for several weeks while visiting?

 

 

Yup!

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I would have the conversation with the help of a family counselor. That's a hard situation. I'm sorry. :(

 

If he can't afford to pay any child support, how does he intend to pay for their support while in another state? That plus the lying manipulation/pawn playing with kids plus criminal record sets of alarm bells for me. What visitation is required by the decree?

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I'd explain the law to the kids.

 

My ex likes to complain about how many times I've made the court suspend his license. *I* didn't do anything! Child support's computers do it automatically every 4 months because he owes so much money.

 

Child support and visitation should be completely separate. If this nc parent can agree to keep the kids out of the parental stuff (child support), and is otherwise a fine parent, then they should go. Of course those weeks the child support should flip, or just take those weeks off the arrears.

 

In our situation, there is no way my ex is taking ds for that long. He hasn't even had him overnight in 7 years!

 

Eta- my parents divorced when I was 5. My father NEVER said anything negative about my mother, EVER. She was constantly bashing him. I saw right through her attempts from very early on. My father was always there for me. If I was mad at him and wanted to live with my mother, he had on a plane within the week. But he was also there a few months down the road when I called crying to go home.

 

I knew nothing of child support specifics until I was much older. My mother never contributed a dime.

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I would have the conversation with the help of a family counselor. That's a hard situation. I'm sorry. :(

 

If he can't afford to pay any child support, how does he intend to pay for their support while in another state? That plus the lying manipulation/pawn playing with kids plus criminal record sets of alarm bells for me. What visitation is required by the decree?

 

 

He lives with his mother, so they would have a place to stay and plenty of money to do "fun dad" things. Visitation is required by decree, based on when he lived here. I think it was something like every other weekend plus Tuesdays and Thursdays, and we'd split holidays. Or something. It really doesn't apply since he moved out of state. The court doesn't really care about his criminal record, I'm told, even though it happened after we were divorced. It was not violent or drug-related and had nothing to do with children. Very white collar. (Not trying to say that makes it better, just adding for clarification).

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Child support and visitation should be completely separate. If this nc parent can agree to keep the kids out of the parental stuff (child support), and is otherwise a fine parent, then they should go. Of course those weeks the child support should flip, or just take those weeks off the arrears.

 

This is kind of what I was thinking. They do fine when they're with him, and they want to go. I can't control what he says about me, but I guess I can just prepare them. I don't know. It's really my oldest I'm concerned about. She's VERY close to her father and I'm afraid she's going to decide she wants to move there to be with him. I don't know how a court would allow that since he has no job and lives with his mother, but I've seen stranger things happen.

 

In our situation, there is no way my ex is taking ds for that long. He hasn't even had him overnight in 7 years!

 

Eta- my parents divorced when I was 5. My father NEVER said anything negative about my mother, EVER. She was constantly bashing him. I saw right through her attempts from very early on. My father was always there for me. If I was mad at him and wanted to live with my mother, he had on a plane within the week. But he was also there a few months down the road when I called crying to go home.

 

This is what I'm hoping for my kids. My ex is very passive-aggressive in his "bashing". Meaning, he doesn't say "your mother is a @#$@#!, or anything like that. He will say things like I mentioned in my original post, though, but followed by "she thinks it's best if...", as in "I guess she thinks it's best if I'm in jail and can't see you at all". Makes me so mad.

 

I knew nothing of child support specifics until I was much older. My mother never contributed a dime.

 

 

My parents have been married for 55 years. I've never had to deal with any of those things. I feel so very fortunate. Sounds like you have a great father.

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I say counseling is in order. I've been in a similar situation. The kids need to hear from an impartial third party what is going on and there needs to be some mediation. And the NC parent really needs to get their head out of their butt.

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What makes everyone think they're mine? I did say it was (not-so) hypothetical. :tongue_smilie:

 

Ok, so let's say they are mine. That would make them almost 17, and 10. Yes, there are papers to show what should have been paid. No, he hasn't paid. He tells the kids that he is "trying" to find work. The truth is he can't get work because of a criminal record. Sorry, but that doesn't excuse you from supporting your kids in my book. Also, he is working, but is paid cash under the table. So if we were to go to court they will likely alter the judgement saying I make a lot of money, he makes none, so he will have to pay next to nothing. That's actually fine with me, although I do think he may have to pay some of his arrears since the judgement has not yet been officially altered.

 

My main concern here are my (hypothetical!) kids. I don't want them to not have a relationship with their father, and they're actually very close. On the other hand, it's not cheap to raise them, and he does have money now. He just chooses to spend it on other things. I don't care if he pays me $10 a month if that's all he has, as long as he pays it every month, consistently, without my having to ask for it. I mean that. I've had that discussion with him several times but he does nothing about it. I'm tired. And I'm tired of him making me look like an evil person to my daughters. Also, my husband is becoming resentful, as he does whatever he has to to support his kids and can't understand why my ex doesn't. I'm not prepared to damage my marriage by not holding my ex-husband accountable.

 

So frustrating.

 

 

first, yes, I'd talk with the kids. I'd keep it non emotional and non judgemental. just the facts.

 

Then yes, I'd let them visit. Because payment and visitation are totally different things. If he's that lousy a guy you shouldn't have had kids iwth him. And I say that as someone that has shared custody with a fairly lousy guy. I get it. But at the end of the day, legally and morally, you owe it to the kids to let them see dad. You don't have a legal or moral right to say he has to pay to see them.

 

Also, said with love, stop expecting him to change. He won't. That's why you divorced him, remember? My divorce has gone so much better once I stopped expecting him to change.

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I can't imagine having to go through what you are dealing with. I would like to think I would tell them the facts of things but still let them visit.

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It depends on the age of the children.

 

Edited the rest because it was too personal.

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I didn't vote, because my thoughts weren't quite listed as an option. :)

 

Can you (or, a-hem, the hypothetical mom) have a conversation with the kids removing yourself from the legal action? This is how we handled a situation with a non-custodial parent, per our family therapist's advice. So rather than you trying to send someone to jail, it's more that our country has laws about parents needing to do the right thing for their kids, and when a parent doesn't do what s/he needs to do, then the court steps in to make sure that s/he does. I can't remember exactly how our family therapist had us phrase it, but it essentially took the blame off of us, and also gave us a way to avoid tit for tat type mud slinging. It gave us a way to take the high road. It's a tight rope, but it's possible.

 

As for an extended visit... No. Not unless it's in the court order. If CP and NCP were getting along great - that would be a different story.

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The age of the children would be a huge factor for me. If the kids are old enough to understand (3rd grade and up or so) I would want to sit down with them and explain the law and the actions I had taken to them in an age appropriate way (more information the older they are as to the financial requirements for raising kids and my need for the support from their father as well as more information regarding his choices that have led to not working/paying support).

 

As far as the summer, if he is trying to turn the kids against the custodial parent I don't think it is appropriate for him to have unsupervised access to the kids. The custodial parent needs to have a discussion with him regarding what is appropriate and if the behavior continues work with a lawyer to ensure that he either changes the way he is acting or has his access to the children limited and supervised until he is able to do so.

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first, yes, I'd talk with the kids. I'd keep it non emotional and non judgemental. just the facts.

 

Then yes, I'd let them visit. Because payment and visitation are totally different things. If he's that lousy a guy you shouldn't have had kids iwth him. And I say that as someone that has shared custody with a fairly lousy guy. I get it. But at the end of the day, legally and morally, you owe it to the kids to let them see dad. You don't have a legal or moral right to say he has to pay to see them.

 

Also, said with love, stop expecting him to change. He won't. That's why you divorced him, remember? My divorce has gone so much better once I stopped expecting him to change.

 

 

You're right. I can't say I wish I didn't have kids with him, because then I wouldn't have my kids. But man, oh man, I will use every fiber of my being to try to teach my daughters to be extraordinarily careful picking a mate. It matters.

 

And I don't expect him to change, really. We've been divorced for nearly 7 years and I've never expected him to change. He actually has gotten worse! I just want him to do the right thing, and since I know he won't do it of his own accord I've decided it's now time for legal intervention. KWIM?

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Please let them visit if they want to, my mother used us as pawns to get my dad to pay child support, and I really believe we were hurt the worst.

 

If they don't want to go, that's a different story. If you believe he won't bring them back, that would also change my answer.

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I didn't vote, because my thoughts weren't quite listed as an option. :)

 

Can you (or, a-hem, the hypothetical mom) have a conversation with the kids removing yourself from the legal action? This is how we handled a situation with a non-custodial parent, per our family therapist's advice. So rather than you trying to send someone to jail, it's more that our country has laws about parents needing to do the right thing for their kids, and when a parent doesn't do what s/he needs to do, then the court steps in to make sure that s/he does. I can't remember exactly how our family therapist had us phrase it, but it essentially took the blame off of us, and also gave us a way to avoid tit for tat type mud slinging. It gave us a way to take the high road. It's a tight rope, but it's possible.

 

As for an extended visit... No. Not unless it's in the court order. If CP and NCP were getting along great - that would be a different story.

 

 

I think that the way you explained it, the words you used, will likely be the ones I use, so I appreciate those. I've copied them down so I don't forget!

 

The visitation thing is hard. They do get along well with their dad, he certainly doesn't neglect them when they're together or put them in jeopardy, and he only fairly recently moved out of state after having been in their lives every day. They've handled it ok, but it hasn't been easy. Part of me thinks that if I'm going to be rational and impartial about it I need to do as many have suggested and separate the money from the visitation. We do actually get along just fine. He's always passive aggressive, about everything. We saw him when we were on vacation a couple of weeks ago and extended our trip by a couple of days so the girls could be with him. He even took my step-daughter to hang out because she likes him, too. I know it seems weird, but we "get along". He's just a piss-poor parent and someone, a neutral third party, like the legal system, needs to hold him accountable. I don't want to punish my kids because he's a jacka$$. I just don't want him to pollute their minds with bad talk of me.

 

On another note, I asked DD16 in passing at dinner how long she'd like to stay at her dad's this summer, if she could choose. She asked how long she was allowed, and I said I don't know, a month? She said that was too long and she'd get bored and why would she want to stay there that long when she could be home. So my fear of her wanting to run off and leave me to move in with her dad and grandma seems to be unfounded.

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Please let them visit if they want to, my mother used us as pawns to get my dad to pay child support, and I really believe we were hurt the worst.

 

If they don't want to go, that's a different story. If you believe he won't bring them back, that would also change my answer.

 

 

He would bring them back. For a while, when things weren't so good with us, I wouldn't allow them to get passports because I had a real fear he would take them to his country of origin and I'd never see them again. I had no real basis for that fear except maybe too much cable TV, but still, that's what I felt. That feeling passed quickly.

 

The last thing I want is for my kids to think I'm using them in any way for anything, so thanks for sharing that with me.

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Are you writing about me? LOL

 

I have had almost this same situation, with the exception of the being on parole part, with my ex-husband. I left him when I was pregnant, dd and I lived with my dad for the first three years of her life and during that time he was rarely if ever around. When my dd was 3.5, I met my dh and suddenly exh started coming around a bit more. One time he had her for a visit and put her on a quad motorcycle with no helmet on (he had one) and then drove it around and crashed off the side of the hill. She could have been killed. Because I had never filed custody papers, we had no set custody agreement and I just stopped letting him see her. He really had never been around more than once every few months, so it wasn't a big deal.

 

Three years later, he decided he wanted to see her and forced it with the courts. He ended up getting visits on Sat afternoons and Tuesday evenings for dinner. No overnights. He made such a mess of things in the time that he did have her that I ended up fighting any custody at all. He was mean to her, he gave her the creeps (remember she barely knew him) and many, many times she would crumple to the floor in tears after he dropped her back off. It was horrible. Just horrible.

 

I did explain to her what was going on and that there was nothing I could do to completely stop the visits until she was 11 and could make up her own mind whether or not she wanted to go. It was very clear to her the entire time that he didn't act right and didn't say good things and I basically just listened and agreed with her. When we went back to court, I got a court-ordered psychologist involved and they cut down his visitation even further, which was good. Some people in the court system know what they're seeing and can smell a rat. When they asked my dd what she wanted the judge to know, she said, "I want to tell the judge to make him go away. I don't ever want to see him again. He's not my dad." Kids are not stupid.

 

He ended up giving her strep throat in the 7th grade, after one of their still rare visits. She developed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as a side-effect of the strep and ended up being quite ill. He faded away, probably because taking care of an ill child is not very fun, possibly because he knew it was partly his fault. We have not seen him in over 3 years - the last time we saw him was at his mother's funeral. Dd is 15 now, almost 16 and she does not have to see him, nor would she ever on her own.

 

p.s. I do have to disagree with the pp who said payments and visitations are not the same thing. My exh owes us $29,000 and has been deliberately hiding his job (under the table) and avoiding us like the plague so he doesn't have to pay. It is just another outward sign of what a lousy person he is.

 

I would tell the kids the truth, in a very factual way. And I would fight any extended visitation.

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Omg, I am in a message board with a woman just like this! In the past she has been incredibly patient with the ex, even letting him live with her, contributing basically nothing, because she is a really sympathetic person and kind of likes him in some ways, and after all the lazy cr@p he has pulled, she is totally willing to say that he is a great dad and has good qualities. Very few people are that magnanimous, and I have always admired her:)

 

To answer your questions, I assume her kids are the ones who tell her what he says. I might just say, at least to the oldest, 'it really hurts me to hear that he says that. It must hurt you too. I don't want to say anything bad about your dad. I would prefer to just not respond to that and to let you give me the benefit of the doubt."

 

I would enroll them in activities over the summer that they love and reserve just a week or two for him. Don't make it about him. Make it about how much they want to do these other things.

 

I personally would continue to seek child support and let him deal with the fallout of that.

 

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I didn't vote because it all depends...

 

 

I would probably explain it all to the 16 year old in a very matter of fact way.

 

Here children can choose which parent they want to live with at around 13 or 14 (excluding dangerous situations of course).

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First, I may discuss it gently, but I would be careful not to bad mouth the other parent. Fact is that taking the high road may not work in the short term, but will in the long run. I would also be honest about my own shortcomings in the situation, taking responsibility.

 

I would allow the kids to go as long as you are positive they will come home. Without a court order, that can be iffy. However, a month could show the kids that the NC is not so perfect after all.

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I voted yes, to the conversation and yes, to allowing the visit, but the latter has a clause.

 

Yes, the kids should know some facts about the situation but on a developmental level and w/o C's feelings inserted into the matter. NC is still their parent. I was raised by a single mother who did the above and I appreciated her being candid.

 

Yes, the kids should be allowed to visit but only if NC is paying for the travel expenses. Again, NC is still their parent and unless there's abuse or drug/alcohol issues, they need to go.

 

None of the options in your poll feel good at.all. There's no way to get through this without some pain. I would pray C's kids would grow up and respect him/her for their honesty, but also for allowing them to see things for themselves. Until they do, they will always question.

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The visitation thing is hard. They do get along well with their dad, he certainly doesn't neglect them when they're together or put them in jeopardy, and he only fairly recently moved out of state after having been in their lives every day. They've handled it ok, but it hasn't been easy. Part of me thinks that if I'm going to be rational and impartial about it I need to do as many have suggested and separate the money from the visitation. We do actually get along just fine. He's always passive aggressive, about everything. We saw him when we were on vacation a couple of weeks ago and extended our trip by a couple of days so the girls could be with him. He even took my step-daughter to hang out because she likes him, too. I know it seems weird, but we "get along". He's just a piss-poor parent and someone, a neutral third party, like the legal system, needs to hold him accountable. I don't want to punish my kids because he's a jacka$$. I just don't want him to pollute their minds with bad talk of me.

 

On another note, I asked DD16 in passing at dinner how long she'd like to stay at her dad's this summer, if she could choose. She asked how long she was allowed, and I said I don't know, a month? She said that was too long and she'd get bored and why would she want to stay there that long when she could be home. So my fear of her wanting to run off and leave me to move in with her dad and grandma seems to be unfounded.

 

 

It sounds like you are worried about PAS. (Parental Alienation Syndrome) You might check out some articles or books on the topic, maybe do some googling and read reviews first. I wish I could recommend something specifically, but it's been so long that I can't recall which ones were helpful. PAS can be very subtle, it doesn't just mean bad mouthing the other parent. It can be as subtle as a quiet change in expression, discouraging positive talk of the other parent, or encouraging negative talk. It is insidious. And very hard to combat. There could be some articles out there with specific strategies. I hope so.

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I wouldn't want to burden the kids with the adult problems, and yes I'd allow them to spend time with their dad. Just love them and allow them to have as much love as they can while they are young. They will grow, mature and come to grips with the truth of the situation soon enough.

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Recently, I have had both a family member and a very good friend go through similar scenarios. It stinks when one parent is the day-to-day parent who gets stuck with the disciplining, dirty laundry, and clothing costs. Then, it really stinks when the non-contributing, mostly absent parent swoops in to be the "fun" parent and badmouths the hard-working parent at the same time!

 

I just have some observations - and I am certainly not suggesting that this should be used to "strong-arm" anyone. They are just some observations:

 

1. NC has a prior criminal record for a "white-collar" crime

2. NC seems to be a bit worried about the possibility of going to jail since he keeps bringing it up to the children.

3. NC is working and making money, but is not reporting said money. This is very irresponsible and selfish as a father. Two people were responsible in making those beautiful children and two people continue to be responsible for them until they are of legal age.

4. As a citizen of the United States (which I assume NC is), he also has the responsibility to pay his taxes.

5. NC is taking the chance of getting caught by the IRS (who would probably have a dim view of tax-evasion since NC already has a "white-collar" crime on his record)

6. I am just wondering aloud here... I wonder if his preference might possibly be for the money he should be paying in taxes, to go instead to his children? It would be a shame if the IRS were to find out about his "under the table" activities.

 

Goodness, I just re-read that and it sounded a bit like I may have been suggesting blackmail :ohmy: . Of course I would NEVER suggest something like that. On the other hand, that man (if he can be called a man when he does not have the correct anatomical parts to get out of his mother's basement, work hard to make amends for his past criminal activities, get a real job, pay his taxes, and above all take care of his children) may only understand that kind of language.

 

Unfortunately, the above scenario would also be a very bad example to set for the children. Just forget everything I mentioned above... they were just observations.

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My oldest, my step dd, was very damaged by dh's refusal to contradict anything negative that her mother said about him. He felt that telling dd the truth about things would be playing "tit for tat", and that dd would figure things out for herself when she got older. Except that she never did, and is terrified of men because she believed everything that her mother told her as a little girl. She believed that her mother must be right because of course her father would have told her the truth if she wasn't.

 

Not telling children the truth is not good for their long term emotional growth. My oldest is just now in the her second year of college, mostly because of not wanting to grow up because of emotional damage her mother did to her. You ex already encouraged your oldest to outright lie to you regarding her schooling in the past if I remember right. He does not have the track record to help parent your children. Truly they probably do not want to go for that long anyway.

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