My daughter, who is now 7 years old, has been spending time with her father for a little over a year. Initially, their visits took place on Sundays.
Since her father came into the picture, we have been experiencing difficulties in our relationship. Although we are not exes, we have known each other since early high school, and we are now both 29 years old. One recurring issue is his tendency to enter new relationships frequently. I have made it clear that I’m not comfortable with our daughter meeting anyone he hasn’t been with for a substantial amount of time. In the past, he introduced a girlfriend to our daughter after only a few weeks of dating, which caused an argument between us. I firmly believe that our daughter should only meet his partners once the relationship has lasted at least six months, as I don’t want her to be introduced to every new girlfriend. Unfortunately, their relationship ended shortly after they met. Now, he has a new girlfriend whom he moved in with after only two weeks, fully aware of my concerns.
I reiterated my stance to him, suggesting a minimum waiting period of six months (although ideally, I would prefer a year). However, a week later, when he dropped off our daughter, he asked if she could meet his girlfriend that weekend. I responded by saying that I never agreed to such an early introduction. His reaction was to become offensive and launch into a rant. Recognizing the need to establish boundaries, I told him plainly, “Your decision to move someone in so quickly without considering the impact on your parenting time with our daughter and how her presence in your home would affect your relationship with her has placed you in this position. I am no longer willing to engage in conversation with you while you’re being rude. Goodbye.” I attempted to close the door, but he aggressively barged towards it. Fortunately, I was able to quickly lock it before he could enter my home. I then had to take both of my children to the kitchen, shielding them from his banging on the windows and doors while he shouted. It was a frightening experience that lasted for about 20 minutes.
In response to this incident, I decided to go no contact with him. I refuse to tolerate any form of abusive behavior. Consequently, around four to five weeks later, he resurfaced and sent a rude text message. We engaged in a back-and-forth exchange, during which I expressed my belief that he is a father who does the bare minimum. Here are the reasons behind my assessment:
- Our daughter has her own phone, which he can use to contact her at any time. However, he rarely bothers to message her. He even expects her to initiate contact, despite her being only 7 years old.
- He has not created a dedicated bedroom space for our daughter in his son’s room, even though there is enough space. As a result, she has nowhere to sleep except sharing a bed with her younger brother. Consequently, she lacks a designated play area. Throughout the entire year, she has only slept at his place three times, with no additional overnight stays.
- The amount of time he spends with our daughter is meager compared to the schedule he has set for his son, who is 3 years old. While his son stays with him from Sunday to Tuesday overnight, he doesn’t even make an effort to have our daughter over for a weekend visit, despite my willingness to encourage it.
- He hasn’t provided anything beyond toys at his home for our daughter. She lacks clothes or personal items there.
- He criticizes our daughter’s behavior toward me, portraying her as a difficult child. In reality, she is well-behaved and tends to be shy around him. She doesn’t feel comfortable asking for things or engaging in conversation. Additionally, she is currently being referred for tics, a matter of which he is not even aware.
- He sometimes cancels his scheduled time with our daughter if his son is slightly unwell or hasn’t napped well that day. As a parent of two children, I understand that these challenges arise, but it appears that he hasn’t considered the needs of both children. His son’s routine consistently takes priority over his relationship with our daughter.
- He pays only $100 in child support per month, despite the amount legally designated as $187. He constantly pressured me to accept a lower amount and threatened not to see our daughter if I didn’t comply. After three weeks of him not seeing her, I ultimately had to back down. It’s worth noting that he has a well-paying job.
I am consistently present for our daughter, offering stability and unwavering support. However, I find myself caught in a difficult position. Our daughter rarely asks about her father, doesn’t express a strong desire to see him, and sometimes even resists going to his place. She is leading a happy and normal life seemingly unaffected by his presence and absence.
I have considered suggesting to him that he have our daughter from Friday after school until Sunday evening every other weekend. However, I am unsure if that arrangement would be worth pursuing. I don’t want to put our daughter in a situation where she feels uncomfortable, especially considering the new girlfriend involved.
It is frustrating to witness how he prioritizes creating a picture-perfect family dynamic with his son and whichever new girlfriend comes along. Our daughter, unfortunately, does not hold a position of importance in his life.
Having him in our lives consistently introduces stress, which is particularly challenging as I am expecting a new baby and seeking to minimize unnecessary burdens. My home is currently a happy place for all of us, while he brings a cloud of narcissistic negativity.
It is worth mentioning that he is not listed on our daughter’s birth certificate and therefore lacks any legal parental rights. Although I would have been open to a 50/50 arrangement, it is evident that he does not desire that level of involvement.
So, what should I do? I don’t want to be perceived as the bad mother who keeps our child away from her father. However, I am exhausted from seeing our daughter constantly placed last on his list of priorities and from his tendency to disappear whenever we have a disagreement or I refuse to comply with his wishes.
Financially, I cannot afford to go to court, and he doesn’t seem concerned about pursuing that route either. As a result, I don’t feel it is necessary at this time.