Never Give up on Trying to See your Children and be a Father to them

I get it, trust me, I really  do. The stresses of trying to exercise your “visitation” aka parenting time as a noncustodial father (or mother) is no less stressful than a trip to hell and back with Satan tormenting you the entire time, when the custodial parent is combative, mentally ill, has a substance abuse problem, or simply likes confrontation and drama. In such cases, you’re often better off doing the exchange with Satan himself.

All kidding aside, some people can get physically ill from the stresses involved in trying to exercise parenting time when a such a custodial parent is involved. There is a tremendous amount of stress, anxiety and sometimes panic, especially when there’s a fear of false allegations or false charges being leveled against you by the custodial parent. In fact, some may choose to skip exercise parenting time altogether because of this, especially if they’ve been previously incarcerated on account of false allegations by the custodial mother.

Now think about this; if it’s that stressful on the father, think about how much more so it is on the children involved. That’s why it’s critically important for you to NEVER engage the mother (or father for you noncustodial moms) and argue back. Doing that not only further stresses the children, it also escalates the situation, and it creates hellish childhood memories that will forever be replayed in their minds, over and over again, and even as adults.

Please trust me on that, I came from a background as a child that clearly attests to that.  Don’t ever play a part in creating traumatizing memories for your children, as they will remember them for the rest of their lives. In high-conflict situations, the only role you should play is that of a quiet and comforting  parent, not the violent and escalating one.

It’s never okay to engage a combative custodial parent. The only exception I can think to that is if they’re putting your children in danger, and only to remove them from that danger and without breaking the law in the process. But rest assured, and as sure as the sun rises and sets, if the cops are called and you’re a father, you’re almost guaranteed to be going to jail unless you have a witness or video. You should never go alone to pick up your children if the aforementioned describes your situation.

Years of tense exchanges will surely wear someone down and can cause disconcertment and ambivalence whereas the opposite should be so for such an occasion. You should (and would normally) be very happy and excited in your anticipation pertaining to getting your child.

So when does it end, or at least change to such an extent that exercising your parenting time no longer becomes a prelude to a panic attack? As your children grow older. The day WILL COME when your child is psychologically capable of rising above the chaos, tension, and conflict that an abusive and drama-loving custodial parent creates and inflicts upon you and them when you are exchanging the children.

The day will also come that your children remember and recall the comfort they found in you and your environment  as you deescalated the many exchanges over the years. It may not feel like at the time when you’re in the thick of it, but you are helping your child just by remaining calm in those situations.

The best thing you can do, is to just be there for your children. As they mature and grow into adults themselves, the control that a psychologically abusive and high-conflict custodial parent exerts over them will fade.

This is why it’s so important that you never give up and stop trying to be a father to your children and thereby play a meaningful role in their life. There were times that I drove more than 550 miles after work on a Thursday night, nearly all night, across 4 states  (and I worked Friday),  so that I could exercise my parenting time with my daughter on a Friday night. I then made the same drive home the following Sunday morning so I could make it to work on Monday.

I made that drive for years. That was over 1100 miles driven over three days. I still must and do drive considerable distances (the same mileage)  to see my own daughter, and she’s worth every minute that I spend on the road and more. It usually takes me until Tuesday and sometimes Wednesday of the following week to get fully rested again.

With regard to physical separation from your child, it’s NEVER their fault, and we must do what we can as fathers to ensure that they don’t pay the price for that separation. If the custodial parent has moved your child away from you, or you were forced to move for employment reasons , or to avoid being indicted for felony criminal nonsupport or other reasons,  then you as a father (or mother) must make every effort to see your child nonetheless.

Many fathers give up out of physical, but mostly psychological exhaustion when faced with a combative, non-cooperative, and high-conflict custodial mother does everything within her power to keep him from exercising his parenting time, and this must never be. We as fathers should never just allow a mother to push us out of our children’s lives. We are obligated, out of the best interests of and well being for our children, to never stop trying.

And for those fathers who are suicidal and or giving up or on the verge of doing so, I must respectfully ask, “why?” I understand how emotionally draining it is to have to engage a non-cooperative and combative custodial parent, believe me, I do, but how can you ever even consider giving up?

Think about the torment that you face in just trying to see your children, as well as the torment you experience in not seeing them; now magnify that exponentially and add fear and unknown to that, to try and understand what your children are going through in NOT seeing you nor having any contact with you.

I’m convinced that our country is basking in the morally depraved state that it’s in today, because fathers have been pushed out of their children’s lives by both the courts and custodial mothers. And the result of decades of that is the very degenerate society that we live in today.

Again I ask you fathers who have given up or are considering giving up; how can you abandon your efforts to see your child, and through that, leave them ALONE with their mothers? I can’t imagine a world for them without their father, so how can you?

For you dads that this resonates with and speaks to, please reconsider.  Your children need you!! You do NOT have to FEEL or BELIEVE it for that statement to be true. It IS TRUE, as every child is born with an inner need and desire to know his or her parents.

To reignite that fire within yourself that will cause you to push forward, consider this; the day IS COMING when your child will be old enough and mature enough to not just express their desire to see you, but also demand their RIGHT to see you. And the more time that passes, the stronger that desire will become.

Moreover, the day will also come when your children will be old enough to push through the barriers, put in place by their custodial parent, that are preventing you from seeing or talking to them.  And when that day does come, because IT WILL, where will you be???

To you fathers contemplating suicide because it seems to be the only way out given the situation that you’re in (homeless, jobless, penniless, and perhaps incarcerated);  what becomes of the day that your child, after reaching the age whereby they can start out on their own, in a quest to see you, and they discover what you’ve done assuming you’ve followed through with it? Chances are, they’ll spend the rest of their lives sorting through that physiological mess you’ve left for them. And PLEASE know that I don’t say that out in indifference or hatefulness, and I have been where you are.

There’s an adage that says something  very well, and that’s beneficial to us all;  “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. ” And if you think in a long term sense about your present situation, and through it, convince yourself that nothing will ever change, you’re unknowingly destroying your hope. And without hope, we as humans have nothing to carry us forward.

Try not to worry beyond today, as there’s no guarantee that tomorrow will ever come anyway. And today, make a promise to your child and to yourself, that you’ll never give up hope nor stop trying to see or talk to them. Because the truth is, and no matter how hopeless today may seem to you, that day WILL come when you’re child will become determined to see you, and such will happen. But you have to be there for that to happen, please decide today, for your child’s sake, that their father will be there when they come looking.

Sincerely,

Tony Fantetti
Email: tony.fantetti(at)ocffr(dot)org

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8 Responses to Never Give up on Trying to See your Children and be a Father to them

  1. Shelly says:

    Tony,
    What is a man supposed to do when there is no money after child support to travel the 600 miles every other weekend demanded of them? They raised his support so high we lost our health insurance (both of us), have minimal heat in the house, and relatives have bought food for us. I feel guilty for not making enough money to offset the child support and am really torn, but I have a son living in a 40 some degree house and want to spend what we do have for our household. Did I mention I feel guilty…

    • Tony Fantetti says:

      Shelly,

      He doesn’t go. Not because he doesn’t want to, but because the “system” has made it impossible for him to do so. You make a very good point, not everyone has the financial means to go, and unfortunately that’s the situation that many find themselves in. Moreover, they then wrongly assign blame to themselves. The last thing I want to do with any of my posts, is to heap more guilt on the many struggling families out there, and especially those who don’t have any contact whatsoever with their child(ren).

      That wasn’t my intent of this post, and perhaps I’ll rewrite some of it. And in a case situation like yours, I think that the unfortunate reality is that you can’t go, and no one in your situation should feel guilty for that. What I really wanted to convey was a “don’t give up” message.

      This is why I try to give shout-outs to the step-moms and other women who’ve started new lives with noncustodial fathers, it’s a very difficult role. Your situation is a perfect example of how destructive Ohio’s “Family Courts” (Domestic Relations and Juvenile) are of the relationships between children and their noncustodial parents most of which are fathers.

      I’ve been in your situation Shelly. You could see your breath in my house in winter. I’ll never forget that, nor the guilt I felt for “providing” an environment like that for my own daughter. The guilt was horrendous, and quite frankly, it still bothers me. Also, my food situation wasn’t much better than yours is now it sounds like. I used to pick garbage to sell things at yard sales, as I lived on a busy street I would use that money for groceries and utilities, and other bare necessities, you understand.

      So Shelly, the truth is that the State of Ohio, through it’s Domestic Relations Courts, has created the financially devastating situation you find yourself living in right now. Each day is a horrendous struggle, it’s overwhelming at times, and you don’t have enough money to buy a sufficient amount of groceries, nor to heat your home in winter because of his “child support” order. With that said, traveling (in my opinion) is simply not an option for you guys. Perhaps down the road your situation might change enough that an occasional trip can be made. But for today and the foreseeable future, that doesn’t appear to be an option.

      There’s nothing wrong with spending money in your own household Shelly, and there’s nothing wrong with him not making that trip when the funds aren’t there to do so. That’s not your fault nor his, blame for that falls squarely on the shoulders of that overpaid judicial black hat that presides over his case. That same fraud that claims to be acting only in the best interests of the children, by robbing and starving one household (noncustodial parent) to feed another’s (custodial parent), and taking so much of the father’s income through “child support” that he can’t even afford to travel and see his own children. Fault for your financial situation doesn’t lie with either of you.

      I hope you can now find some peace in yourself and let go of the guilt. It’s not your fault nor are you to blame, and neither is he. One day, your financial situation will change. Hang in there and never lose hope that things will get better and they will. It may not seem like it now, and each light at the end of the tunnel might be train, after train, after train, I’ve been there too. Then that day does come where you reach the end of the tunnel and things start to turn around. It’ll be down hill from there.

      Sincerely,

      Tony

  2. mstfd says:

    We have another scenario. My husband was the primary caretaker of all three kids through the marriage and even after the divorce (running them to practice, lessons, cooking them dinner, homework help-they just slept at moms) until about 2 years ago. Mom makes 3 times what we do. And we do OK, but obviously she has an advantage.
    We gave up when Mom tried to convince the police to arrest me and my husband for 6 month old emails, which she claimed were “threatening”. (I am an investigator who found she committed serious fraud in the divorce, which I wasn’t around for) and decided she would go after us in a way that could cause problems with gaining clearance for both of our employments. Remember, she doesn’t need child support, so ruining us is not an issue. In fact, she would enjoy it immensely. Hurting the kids are not a concern, she’s used them as pawns all along. She thinks if any damage is done, she’ll just send them to counseling and its all fixed.
    She has a live in boyfriend, but he lives off of her, so he’s not going to try to get her to reason.
    You say don’t give up on your kids. These kids are teens and it almost seems like they enjoy having parents fight over them. We don’t and see it as not healthy for them or anyone else.
    We’ve tried the court system and gotten nowhere, except lawyer bills. She can outspend us 3 to 1 and in less than a year, the oldest will age out. So, please tell us, what would you do when someone’s every waking moment is spent (when she’s sober) is to see you miserable?
    We’ve tried not to give up, but Dad emails, calls and rarely do they return a call or email unless its time to give them something-Birthday or Christmas. We go to events to see them, since its public-and it just happens to be the “one” they miss. We are open to suggestions. By the way, I’m divorced too, but don’t have these kinds of insane issues with my ex- husband. He’s lazy, but he’s not crazy…

    • Tony Fantetti says:

      mstfd,

      Many have been through exactly what you’ve described. The stress from a vindictive hateful ex is bad enough to destroy a marriage as I’m certain you know. To be frank, there are many similarities between our situations. With that said, don’t engage, that will get you nowhere but to stir the hornet’s nest. Even ignoring can stir that same nest.

      The first thing I would recommend you do is protect your relationship with your husband, as it sounds as if his ex wants nothing more than to break the two of you up. The next thing I’d do is block her number from all of your phones. You need peace from her to keep your marriage strong. If she sends emails, do not read them and mark them as SPAM.

      You are correct in not wasting money (or time) with the courts as they don’t care. So what I would do is make sure the kids have cell phones to contact you and your husband and have as little contact with her as possible. As you know, she’s not interested in reasoning, she’s not interested in the kid’s best interest, she’s only interested in destroying your relationship with your husband.

      For the times when your husband has to speak to her, and assuming it’s legal where you live, I’d record the conversations so she can’t levy false charges, especially given that it sounds like you have a security clearance at risk. That goes for exchanging the children; record (audio and or video) those exchanges so she can’t have him arrested on some false domestic violence charge or whatever she decides to make up at yours and his expense.

      I don’t suggest fighting over the kids, I only suggest trying to maintain a meaningful role in their lives. How old are the children, and can he and you communicate directly with them without having to involve her?

      Tony Fantetti

  3. mstfd says:

    PS She settled out of court for the fraud. I was about 20% of what she stole during the divorce, but again, legal bills. And the police officer she tried to convince refused to make a report or do an investigation because he didn’t find her credible. We didn’t see that one coming, so who knows what’s next?

  4. mstfd says:

    Hi Tony,

    Thank you for answering. You are actually one of the few people who understands. A lot of people think we are exaggerating when in fact, its worse than we let on!
    Our lawyer finally got it toward the end and told us to quit spending money because the kids would be grown before it was over in court and we’d be broke and broken. He was just astounded (after 40 years of practice) that any mother would go to such lengths to destroy the bond my husband has had since birth, with his children.
    We tried the cell phones…they are ages 14 and 17 1/2. We bought one for the youngest and get this-it was always dead. The charger constantly came up missing, etc. My SD used it to call Dad 2 times in a year. She didn’t use it to call anyone else, either. She is in counseling for being “socially awkward” lol Gee, the first 14 year old in history with that affliction! Her mother tells her not to talk to anyone. I don’t think that’s helpful advice. It makes me wonder what is being hidden. Mom has verbally berated/cussed us in front of the kids on several occasions, we did not respond in kind. We actually remained silent and let her scream. The kids asked her why she acted like that and she told them she didn’t know…
    The older ones phone is on Mom’s account and he doesn’t call either. Of course, Mom can easily monitor his account.
    It’s very disappointing that the kids have seemed to so easily cut him out of their lives.
    You are so right on this being hard on the marriage. Being a mom myself, I couldn’t understand how another mom could behave like this in front of her kids for one, and on top of it, cut off a dad who WANTS to be engaged with the kids. I felt a lot of guilt (if I wasn’t here, she wouldn’t be this way, etc.) My own teen doesn’t get it-he loves having his step-dad to talk to him and do “guy” stuff.
    By court order, the only communication between parents takes place on the custody xchange website, which we pay for both parents.
    The final straw was last week, when my mother, sister in law (in town from out of state) and an elderly uncle took the kids to dinner-with the mother’s permission, of course.
    Because my husband was there at the restaurant with his family members, Mom is now threatening him with contempt. As he did not notify with her the required 7 days in advance- it “wasn’t his day” to have them, and he didn’t technically comply with the court order, with his presence at the family gathering.
    I have disengaged from the kids, after having nothing but a good relationship for a couple of years, hoping Mom would simmer down (I work with teens and have for years, so kids often confide in me-Mom seemed to be threatened by that) It hasn’t helped.
    My husband is tired of them rejecting his efforts and ready to move on. I am at a loss on how to help him. Honestly, I can’t say I blame him when Mom has plenty of face time for alienation, that seems to be working according to her plan. I’m hoping they’ll figure it out when they age out…

    • Tony Fantetti says:

      mstfd,

      I “fully” get what you’re saying here, “A lot of people think we are exaggerating when in fact, its worse than we let on!’ So much so, that I’m convinced that with the exception of experienced mental health professionals, people who aren’t ‘living the nightmare’ are mostly incapable of understanding the immeasurable hatred and associated stress that a vindictive ex can introduce into a marriage.

      To this point. “We tried the cell phones…they are ages 14 and 17 1/2. We bought one for the youngest and get this-it was always dead. The charger constantly came up missing, etc. My SD used it to call Dad 2 times in a year.” I can relate to that as well. “broken” phones, chargers, “lost” phones and chargers that “fall” into puddles, walls, toilets, yet the courts can’t ever seem to see through the obvious.

      You’re in one of those situations where you’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t. It sounds like you’ve probably tried it all, ignoring, engaging, being nice and NOTHING works. I wish I could recall the title of a book that a custody investigator once recommended. The idea of the book was NOT to ‘fix’ the situation, but rather to allow one to make sense of, understand, and intellectualize why the other person acts they do, and to help the person(s) caught up in it to understand that there’s nothing they did or can do to change things.

      Given what you’ve explained, my suggestion is that first, your husband understand and abide by everything that’s stipulated in the decree and if one exists, a subsequent custody order.

      Also, neither you nor he should ever assume goodwill in anything she does, and always assume it’s a trap for contempt. For example, taking the kids to dinner without the 7 day advanced notification. He cannot afford to give her any reason to spring a motion for contempt (MFC) as it’s NOT worth the risk because she’ll most likely do it. If she’s ‘being nice’ there’s likely a hidden agenda that involves the word contempt.

      I would also have a ‘contempt on her’ to utilize as a defensive measure so that you aren’t at risk of being on the hook for her legal fees as anyone is in the case of contempt. If you don’t already know, if she files a MFC, and he’s found guilty, the court could order him to pay her legal expenses. Therefore, and if possible, always keep something legitimate on the back burner that could be used to file the same against her if need be.

      With regard to this comment, “My husband is tired of them rejecting his efforts and ready to move on. I am at a loss on how to help him. Honestly, I can’t say I blame him when Mom has plenty of face time for alienation, that seems to be working according to her plan. I’m hoping they’ll figure it out when they age out.” First, your husband needs to know that what he feels is normal. It’s a pain like no other when one’s children are rejecting them. So him feeling ready to “move on” is one way that some fathers deal with the pain of repeated rejection. There’s little to no sympathy out there for fathers who are hurting and literally crying to spend time with their children.

      What he should understand is that his children and your step-children are being alienated and manipulated by a master manipulator, his ex. So as difficult as it is to not take it personal, you both need to do just that. You would think that at their ages, they’d be wise enough to understand what’s happening, however they are children and they are fighting their own demons with regard to this matter as well as being a teenager in today’s world.

      Given that the cell phones are pointless, other options for communicating with them are via email and social media. If social media is used, (I personally hate it due to the lack of privacy as the provider owns the data) it should be done so that the mother is unaware as it will surely stir the hornet’s nest given it completely bypasses her gate-keeping.

      In my opinion there’s nothing wrong from a moral or parental perspective with backing off from trying to maintain a relationship with the kids and focusing on your marriage to further strengthen it, as I suspect that battling his vindictive ex for time (by any means) with the kids has been as constant as it is draining on your relationship with him. Remember, tearing you two apart is what she wants most, and she’ll clearly stop at nothing when she’s already psychologically damaging the children as she is with her maternal gate-keeping and the associated brainwashing that goes along with it.

      I personally believe that in time, and despite the fact that one might expect it now, the kids will eventually wake up and see all that she’s done to intentionally damage their relationships with both of you.

      And in closing, you said that you’re at a loss as to how to help him. Please trust me when I say that just by being there for and supporting him through this, you’re doing all that you can.

      Think of how draining this war that’s waging is on the both of you. Now think of how draining it would be on him if you were not there supporting him in all of this.

      To put it in perspective, think of how many times you’ve seen or heard of fathers who have gone off the rails and gone on murdering sprees. First, I AM NOT condoning such behavior, I’m only trying to look at what I personally think drives it in more cases than the “professionals” have connected it to. Additionally, I’m not referring to honor killings which are affiliated with some cultures.

      I have spoken to and dealt with many suicidal fathers over the years, and what drove them to where they were, more than anything else, were vindictive ex-girlfriends and ex-wives with whom they had children and, whom would also prevent said fathers from having any contact whatsoever with their children. But it doesn’t stop there; these same hateful women would use “Family Courts” as their unyielding and unstoppable war hammers to beat those fathers as much as they could and at every turn to “punish them” for perceived offenses against her.

      You can ignore a person, an ex for example, but you can’t ignore a court, because if you do, you’ll likely be found to be in contempt and then jailed. So to my point; I had wanted (and still do) to commission my own study to look at family annihilators to try and determine what could drive a father to the point where he murders his own children because I can’t comprehend such a reprehensible act. However, what I can comprehend are the stresses of being alienated and separated from a child that you love, along with being continually beaten by a black-hatted “Family Court” judge or magistrate.

      With that having been said, it’s my own unsubstantiated belief and opinion that what drives the actions of a family annihilator more than anything else is maternal gate-keeping coupled with a “Family Court” war hammer that’s manifested in continuous and endless court appearance for wholly unsubstantiated and manufactured “offenses.”

      Under years of such abuse, I believe that some fathers are incapable of withstanding the tremendous emotional and psychological pressure which subsequently fractures (both permanently and irreparably) their psyches. And in that terrible end, the talking heads on on TV stating that others claimed these men were unstable, angry etc and I get that, but the question that’s never asked after such judgements are passed is “why were they so?” And I personally belive that answer can be tied back to what I explained in many of the cases.

      To reiterate, I AM NOT and DO NOT condone such behavior, however I personally believe that vindictive exes whom are also the mothers of said father’s children, along with “Family Courts” are what initially sets in motion such horrendous and horrific behavior.

      Tony Fantetti

  5. mstfd says:

    Thanks Tony, your insight has been helpful to both of us.