Any Ideas?

I got a letter from Hannah and Eli’s dad last night makingarrangements for their Christmas vacation.  Only, his idea of taking them for Christmas vacation in a weekend in Boise.  He hasn’t seen Hannah for over a year now, maybe as long as 18 months (not counting the ten-minute visit in the airport when we picked Eli up after his summer visit with him, the ten minute visit where he and his wife brought two shirts that were too big and felt proud that they had contributed to her school wardrobe, told her “hey, good luck with school,” and walked out.  In the meantime, Eli had two big bags full of things they had bought him, clothes and some football memorabilia stuff and blah fuckety blah.  He (their dad) keeps saying that he is goingto do this or that or the other thing, but none of them ever bear fruit, and it is really, really bothering me. 

He chose not to take them for Thanksgiving last year or Christmas the year before that, and even though he can have them every spring break, he hasn’t taken that opportunity for three or so years.  Summer break, he used to take them both for at least a month at a time, and the last two years it has been two weeks, tops. Last summer, Eli was there for three weeks, and Hannah chose not to go-and her dad just said, “ok.”

I am at a loss as to how to handle this.  When Hannah moved back home, the agreement was that he still would not pay child support (while she lived there, we just both paid for what the child living with us needed, and it worked out) but that he would pay for all transportation costs for visits, as well as contribute for school fees and clothes.  So what has happened is that he simply doesn’t see them.  Like, when he sees them over New Years, he wants us to drive the 165 miles to drop them off, then turn around and pick them up in two days, and he won’t pay for that.  As long as I was paying for half the costs, he saw them a lot more.  Anyway, now he just chooses not to see them, or in the case of New Years, wants me to shoulder the cost of getting them there and back, and will be pissed if I don’t also send money for them to contribute to meals.  I understand that he and his wife are flying in, or are planning to.  But I also know how much round trip plane tickets cost from where they are coming, and they are going to be spending about the same as we are for gas.  Anyway, that isn’t really the whole point.

The part I don’t know how to handle is this: I am pissed.  I am pissed at the way he has treated Hannah since she made the decision three years ago to move back home.  I am pissed about his complete lack of support of her during the ordeal with CF.  I am pissed that he isn’t fulfilling his obligations, either emotionally or financially.  And I am pissed that they HAD this from him-they had love and support (he has never been consistent about child support, but it wasn’t such an issue because he was helping with school clothes and paying for their visits and all that) from him pretty much consistently for many, many years, 13 or 14, and suddenly he took that away.

Hannah doesn’t want to go; she said, “Why would I want to spend almost three hours in the car to go spend two nights with him and his wife, stuck in a hotel room?  Besides, if he can’t be bothered to pay for a plane ticket so we can have an actual vacation with him and see the rest of the family, then screw him.”  Eli was much more, “Meh, whatever, I don’t care.”

They are of an age where I don’t have to make them go, and to be truthful, I don’t WANT to.  I think it absolutely unfair for him to expect me to take them to Boise to see him; if he wants to see them that badly, he should come to Twin Falls and stay there for the weekend.  Really.  It isn’t as if he is going to have a buttload of presents for them (he hasn’t actually bought them a Christmas present beyond a $10 Wal-Mart card for several years), so he could just as easily fly into Twin.  But even if he does that, what about the kids?  They don’t want to go.  Especially Hanna; she is tired of being hurt by him.  Yet at the same time, I think it is really, really important for the kids to have (or at least try to have) a relationship with him.  The part of me that sees exactly where Hannah is coming from is all like, “Nope, not going to make you go, yep, I understand why you don’t want to see him.”  However, the part of me that still has compassion for him and wishes that he had the ability see what his choices are doing to the kids wants to give him the chance to at least see him for a few days; maybe the connection isn’t so important to them now, and maybe HE isn’t feelingall that close or loving toward the kids now, but won’t that change over time?

I don’t have any answers; and I have very little time to make a decision.  The cold part of my mind is leaning toward writing him a letter and cc:ing his attorney, saying, “No, I am sorry, but the deal is all of Christmas Vacation or none of it.  You have chosen NOT to follow through with any of your other weekend visits (he was also going to come down in April and again in July, and then September….), and I am not going to pander to your whim this time.”  But-shit, I don’t know.

And I hate this stuff; I hate it for my kids, and I hate it for him.  I mean, sure, his choices have consequences, and them not really caring whether they see him or not is definitely a consequence, but I still hate it (do you know that he and Hannah used to talk to each other every week for at least an hour?  Every.stinking.week. and now he doesn’t answer when she calls, nor does he call her back) for all of it.  I hate that he is not the kind of person who can sit down and discuss the issues, real or perceived, and try to figure out the best solution.  I hate that his wife saw Hannah deciding to move back home meant she lost some competition, and has treated Hannah like shit and hasn’t spoken to me since.  I just-I hate it.

Any ideas?

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19 thoughts on “Any Ideas?

  1. I’m going to tell you what you told me. Now I know he’s not X or C, but the same advice still applies. It’s not YOUR job to make sure that he has a relationship with his kids. I think the biggest decision to be made is whether or not to drive Eli there, and I’m leaning towards not doing it unless he’ll pay for the gas. But because Eli’s still willing to go then it might be worth it.
    I’m so sorry he’s being such an idiot. And I love you.
    .-= April´s last blog ..My Super Mommy Powers =-.

  2. I don’t really have anything to say since I don’t have to deal with a dad in my daughters life. I feel for you and your kids in this. It sucks.
    I would personaly write a very nice heartfelt letter saying what you just said. Maybe he doesn’t “get it” with out it being bluntly pointed out. You don’t have much to loose since he is staying away anyway.
    Good luck with what you decide. You always make the right decison.
    .-= Danielle´s last blog ..Why can’t I grieve? =-.

  3. Well… I’m going to give you my input based on just what my first reaction is… not getting too deeply into analyzing it, etc.

    If they don’t want to go, don’t force it. Tell their dad they don’t want to go and offer some explanation to him as to why they don’t (i.e. lost connection to him, boring drive, boring to be in a hotel, etc.) and tell him that you support what they want because you think they have legitimate reasons for feeling that way.

    It sucks because you don’t want this growing apart to be happening.

    More of my opinion: I don’t even think the part about him not pulling his weight with the travel expenses comes into play. You can’t even get to the part of being annoyed about that (which you should be), because the decision stops with the kids not wanting to go.

    Good luck!
    .-= Jill´s last blog ..Memories =-.

  4. I wouldn’t force it. My Dad and I were estranged for about 4 years because- short version- he was an idiot.

    At this age, forcing it seems to me like it kind of disrespects their emotions and especially Hannah’s justified feelings toward a father who hasn’t been there for her recently. But I don’t know what the best way to explain it to him is- I don’t really know enough about your relationship.

    As April said, it’s not your job to force a relationship. As long as you’re not obstructing one or actively discouraging them from seeing their father, I don’t see a problem.
    .-= Cat´s last blog ..Online Dating =-.

  5. NORMALLY, I would say to have Hannah call him and tell him her thoughts on the vacation. However, since her situation is delicate right now, that might not be best. I would still encourage it. Either way, I definitely wouldn’t make her go if she doesn’t want to. Sometimes it is necessary to draw away from people who are not contributing to your life; especially when you are dealing with a load of crap like she’s just been through. Letting her ignore him now may make the difference in whether or not they can still have a relationship in a few more years. Tell him she’s old enough to make up her mind, she doesn’t feel like going, and leave it at that. If he calls her and starts putting undue pressure on her? Well, then, you DO have that great Mama Bear impression you do….. Lol.
    .-= FreedomFirst´s last blog ..Drowsy =-.

  6. I wouldn’t force anything. She is old enough to make the decision for herself and hopefully he can be mature enough to accept her choice. Every choices carries consequences and until you make him own up to the bargain, he will never stop trying to change it in some small way every time. You should not let him take advantage of you or bend over backwards so he can spend time with his children. He needs to make more of an effort in my opinion.
    .-= Hockeymandad´s last blog ..Vote For Me!!! =-.

  7. I think they’re old enough to decide for themselves, and I also think it’s completely reasonable for you to say no to driving them half a day then turning around 2 days later to pick them up. Seems to me he should come to them.
    What a pain! I’d be pissed too. Mostly for the lack of caring for the kids.
    .-= michelle´s last blog ..Be Bwave Fursday or Be Bwave Fwyday: X wated =-.

  8. Honey- I think April was right. It’s not up to you to ensure he has a relationship with his daughter. As much as it hurts you to see her hurt there’s not much you can do.
    I’m so sorry.
    .-= Ms. Moon´s last blog ..Ay-Yi-Yi =-.

  9. As a child of someone who did not have a relationship with her father and has had a great deal of time to reflect on it now, I would say that you sit down with your kids and have an honest talk with them. Don’t say anything bad about their dad, just ask them do they want to go and what they are feeling about the situation.

    This will give you the answer you need. If they are meh, then the real answer is they want him to want to see them, if they out right say no I don’t want to go then they probably don’t and there is that slight chance they do really want to go.

    I know that in my own life I reached a point when I no longer wanted anything to do with my dad openly, but on the inside, I would have given my left leg to have him want to see me. It wasn’t until I was a parent myself that I realized it wasn’t my job to go see him and work things out, it was his, he was the parent he should have been the responsible person. In the end it was his loss and he realized it too late.
    .-= jennie´s last blog ..Parent-Teacher Conferences 2009 =-.

  10. Honestly? They are old enough to decide for themselves. I think they’re old enough that they can sort of forsee into the future what kind of relationship they’ll have with their father as adults. I can see why Hannah would not want to go, and I don’t think she should have to. Do you think that if you say they’re not going he will try to force it? I wonder if he’d do that or if he’ll just let it go. Also, I think that this idea of you driving them there for such a short visit is somewhat ludicrous. If he can’t take the time to see them longer, he should come to them, not inconvenience you and make them sit in a car. I know it’s hard, but I think you’re pretty good at this stuff, even if it doesn’t seem like it. (Hugs)
    .-= Rachael´s last blog ..Best Laid Plans =-.

  11. I don’t have much advice, or any good ideas… just wanted to say that in all honesty, the best thing my mother ever did was let me make my own decisions when it came to whether or not I wanted to see my father. In hindsight, I can see that it was a difficult decision for her – on one hand, she wanted to protect me from his empty promises and inconsistent parenting, on the other, she wanted me to have a relationship with him. It didn’t ever get better. I’m 34, and after years of struggling (myself) to try to MAKE him be a dad, we don’t have a relationship. At all. Hopefully it will turn out different for your children. Seems like they at least had him for awhile, so maybe they WILL get that back. But, that’s entirely up to him. I hope it works out best for them.

  12. Amen to April. I can pretty much only repeat what she and others have said so well ~ the kids are old enough to not only voice their opinion, but to make the decision for themselves.
    Having been through a pretty similar lifetime of Dad saying “I’m gonna” and not coming through with what ever he “was gonna” do for our daughter,she’s made her own decisions as to what’s good for HER. It’s so hard to watch, isn’t it? Grrrrr.

  13. I think I might be inclined to have a heart to heart with my kids… to let them know that while we don’t understand the choices he makes, he does love them. And I would encourage them to have a conversation with him NOW about how the weekend needs to be for them, how they feel about what they see from him. Maybe they could write him letters. Kind of a last attempt to connect. And if that doesn’t get through, you don’t have a compulsion to keep them connected. If the involved parties don’t make the effort to do the work, the choice he makes now will burn him in the long run.
    .-= Eternal Lizdom´s last blog ..Verizon Nokia Twist =-.

  14. I have nothing pertinent to add here. I’d just be repeating as far as the heart to heart to see about Eli since Hannah’s made her position clear.

    Sorry he’s being an idiot.

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