A few weeks ago I put a call out on my Facebook asking single parents if they had any hard questions they were struggling with. The response was overwhelming. So, welcome to a new Q/A segment on Mama’s Boy where a guest expert and I will best answer your questions. Today, please welcome Dr. Leah Klungness, Ph.D, a psychologist and co-author of the best selling The Complete Single Mother.
Pays, But Won't Play
I filed for child support and my ex-boyfriend does pay. The court awarded him visitation and I think it's great, only he won't visit. I've emailed him and asked him questions about child support and meeting our daughter. He answers the child support questions 1-2-3 and completely ignores the visitation questions—won’t even say her name or ask about her. What does this mean? -Melanie, 29, Totowa, NJ
CC: I’m dealing with the same thing and if I’ve learned anything from my therapist, it’s that I have to accept that I am a loving, cooperating parent and my ex is not. When I discovered I was pregnant, I bought a car seat. He left. This is not my problem, or my responsibility to tackle or fix. These are his issues that he needs to work through in order to meet his son and acknowledge reality.
Dr. LK: Your former boyfriend’s actions tell the story. He's willing to fulfill his legal obligations to his child (no choice), but NOT willing to form any emotional attachment. This bio-dad may change his mind, especially if other relationships fail or he fathers no more children, or does. Right now, consider yourself lucky that your ex-boyfriend pays child support.
Grandparents Are Oblivious
My ex has never met our son and therefore his parents and siblings refuse to acknowledge him, too. No one even sends a Christmas card. Why do his parents ignore the child too, when they have proof it is their biological grandchild? Lorraine, 34, Brooklyn, NY
CC: Again, I’m in the same boat and I try to focus on the relationships my son does have with my parents and brothers. My parents do everything for JD. They pick him up from school if I’m running late and take him to special events like the circus. Here are some pics of my Dad, JD and me at Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
My parents and brothers have been in JD’s life since I tearfully told them I was pregnant at just 5-weeks-along. My father routinely makes Sunday meatballs with JD and my mom makes “love chicken,” which is just plain old breaded chicken cutlets that she sprinkles with love. My son drops everything when my mom, dad or brothers come over and shows the same enthusiasm he does when I pick him up after a long day at school -- says a lot! So this is what I focus on—the man, my brother, Brian, who stands in at the annual Father's Day party -- not grown adults who refuse to acknowledge the truth or deal with their son's/brother's actions.
Dr. LK: Maybe their hearts are one size too small to quote Dr. Seuss. More likely, they're in denial and feel ashamed of what they’re son did. They're also unwilling (or afraid) to reach out to a child their son has abandoned. It's unlikely your son will ever have meaningful contact with his bio-dad's extended family.
His Dad Left Too
My daughter's own father abandoned him when he was 2 and he was adopted by his mom's new husband and his last name was changed. He abandoned me when I was 7-months pregnant (I read your book, Rattled!) and has never met his daughter who is turning 6 soon. Does this go back to what his father did to him? Does it make it OK? Sometimes I feel bad for my daughter's father because he must be really screwed up since his dad left him, too. Caroline, 22, Deer Park Beach, Fla
CC: I don’t think anything justifies one parent leaving and the other doing everything. It takes two people to get pregnant and in my opinion two people should raise that child—be it through co-parenting, skyping, occasional visitation—there are a number of ways two parents who are not together can make things work. Unfortunately the parent that left can seamlessly move on, date, party, focus on career, get married...because he or she is not handling the midnight feedings, school-drop-offs, homework and weekends spent at the park or zoo (not club or bar)—this alone, makes an absent parent more absent—because he or she has no idea of the reality he’s left behind. He shut the door and opened a new one.
Dr. LK: Definitely NOT OK. A break-up during pregnancy inflicts terrible emotional pain. Your ex made that deliberate choice. What happened to him as a child does not excuse abandoning his own child. Nothing does.
That’s it for today. If you have single parent questions you want me and a guest psychologist to tackle, please email them to StorkedCoppa@yahoo.com And visit Dr. Leah at Singlemommyhood.com (one of my fave single parent sites!)
Please share your comments!