As some of you know, I am divorced from my first husband. I’m going to try to stick to just the facts here, and leave my personal opinion of him out, but I’m not sure how well that will work. Please forgive me if my bitterness and anger poke through.
We have an 8 year old son together (and a 12 year old daughter, but she doesn’t factor into the current situation). Our son - hereafter referred to as Boy - gets standard visitation with his dad through court order. When Boy was 4, his dad went to prison for two years, and when he got out is when we divorced (finalized in 2006). The court granted Boy’s dad standard visitation rights: every other weekend, Wednesday evenings, half of summer vacation, and alternating holidays. Boy has never seen his dad on the Wednesday visitation, as he’s never come down for that one. (He lives an hour and a half away.) For a short period of time after my ex was released from jail, he seemed to have gotten his life back on track, and we both made a real effort at being on friendly terms. That lasted about a year, then things started to slide downhill. My ex began getting into trouble again, for minor drug charges and some hit-skips with his car. He ceased paying child support, though his father does occaisionally give me a small percentage of the amount every few months. He began showing up late to drop off/pick up Boy every single time. Now he wants to switch which weekend is “his” every third or fourth time, and rarely picks Boy up when he is supposed to.
I am (understandably, I think) fed up with his antics. It’s putting a strain on my time and my patience, and I am working towards getting the custody decree modified. That’s between my attourney and me, and I can deal with that just fine. My problem is not looking like I’m being a heartless asshole in the eyes of Boy. He doesn’t know about his dad’s past, and the problems that arose that led to the divorce. Our divorce papers even have a clause that anytime I speak to Boy regarding his father, I have to “foster love and goodwill” or something to that effect. And even if I wasn’t bound by law, I see nothing good coming from telling a child “Oh, your dad is a piece of shit and you are far better off without him.”
The question (nd the point of my OP):
When my ex calls and wants to switch weekends yet again - which he has done twice this month already - and I tell him “no” - which I am definitely going to do - how can I explain that to Boy? I really don’t want to see him hurt, and without lying I don’t see how I can justify putting my foot down. The last time this came up, Boy’s dad fed him some line about me trying to keep the two of them apart, which of course hurt Boy and made me look like I don’t wan him to be happy. I can’t very well show Boy the paper and explain that the court says his dad gets him only on certain days, because thn he will wonder why I’ve allowed the switch in the past. Boy is wicked smart for his age, and he’d be all over that little loophole.
And so it is, Dopers, that I come to you. Hopefully you will grace me with some of your wisdom; and, if not tell me what to say, at least help me to see the direction my conversation needs to take.
If there is anybody who is still reading, who hasn’t fallen into a catatonic stupor, there’s pie and beer in the fridge for you. Thanks a million.