What's best/better for the child in the long/short run - to have no father in his life or to have a "no-good" father in his life?
And by "no-good" I mean - mentally and financially unstable, irresponsible, irrational and alcoholic (in my opinion - not professionally diagnosed).
After reading the answer to post Sharing parenting/custody duties with an ex-partner, I can honestly answer NO to all those questions. BUT - this is my opinion. And I am sure my ex doesn't think of himself that way.
I am struggling with the concept of my son having a right to have a relationship with his father no matter what kind of a father he is and no matter how damaging I think it might be for my son in the long run.
Keeping my son safe and making sure he is growing up well-balanced, physically, emotionally and mentally healthy child, in a safe and stable environment - which would mean keeping him away from my ex.
Can I tell my son (if his father doesn't seek visitation until then) - that when he reaches 18 years old he can seek out his father and get to know him and have whatever kind of relationship he wants with him. But until then try to fight his request for visitation (if it ever happens)?
My son is 4 years old now and doesn't have visitation with his dad now. He saw him last when he was 2.5 years old. His dad had supervised visitation when my son was 1.5, but only came once and withdrew his court petition for visitation since then. Also I have a restraining order against him because he has zero respect for me and my boundaries and has been harassing me for years.
Edit: I have to add that I do not talk badly about my ex to my son. My son has a right to make up his own mind about the kind of person his father is and my opinions about my ex - have nothing to do with my son's opinions about his dad and I keep those separate.
But, my son is starting to ask about his dad now - things like: where is he, and can we go visit him and why isn't he here. And sometimes he says things like "my father doesn't want/love me". And it is heart breaking for me to hear him say things like that. So I reply with "Your father loves you. Of course he wants you. And he just lives far away and is working and cannot visit". Which is partly true. I don't want to lie to my son, but I also don't want him to think that he isn't loved or wanted. And I know that my son will always be curious about his dad, and that the response I have will soon get "old", and I would need to come up with a better response.
Another addition: The reason this is a struggle for me is because I realize that I am not a perfect parent. That I make mistakes and that in some way I am sure some things I do - will have long term and possibly damaging effect on my son. I hope not - and I try my hardest not to make those mistakes but - I am not perfect and I can only do my best while striving towards a goal of raising a happy and healthy and stable, responsible, compassionate, etc. child.
So - how can I tell if not having a father at all is better than having an unstable father in my son's life? Even if he (the ex) does things that are potentially long-term damaging - isn't the benefit of having a father still outweighs it?