I am a single mother of an 18-month old son. His father and I are not together and we do not speak. However, the father would like to have a relationship with his son. I am not big on this. What are my options?
A: Christina Sau, Divorced mother of two, answers:
If the father is serious about wanting to be a part of his son’s life, your refusal would probably lead him to seek legal advice. The repercussions of that include a soured relationship between both extended families.
Consider the consequences of this rift on the life of your child – both extended families including cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents all form an integral part of the child’s life. Do you really want your son to learn that his father had to fight you in court so he could be a part of his life?
Even if you as the parents have disagreed, the situation doesn’t have to be complicated. You do not even need to be present during the visits of your child’s father. You could entrust the child with a third party like your mother or some other mature trusted person, and let this person facilitate the visits.
If you are breastfeeding, just make sure you have pumped enough milk and let a nanny be present. If he wants to bring gifts for his child, let him bring them. For older children the man can arrange to pick them in a neutral place. He can take them for outings or to visit his relatives as long as he returns at an agreed time.
These moments help children become well-adjusted teens and adults. Forbidding or restricting contact with their father may seem fine from your point of view, but what about the child’s point of view? When your son grows up he will still look for his father. If you told him the man is dead he will ask to be shown the grave. Worse, refusing an interested father’s involvement can backfire because the child may blame himself for his parents’ disagreements.
Children might assume that it was their birth that made the parents split up. Isn’t it healthier for a child to grow up with two parents? Even if my parents are not together it would be important for me to know that my father is actually interested in me.