My son is 8 and my daughter 16. My son's father was physically abusive to me, and emotionally abusive and neglectful towards both children. He is a severe alcoholic with a personality disorder.

I have struggled with keeping him in my son's life since our separation 4 years ago. My daughter hates him and voices her disgust over his presence. He constantly cancels visits or has friends over and gets drunk/has blackouts while he had my son with him. He has also driven my son home while drunk.

My son's is now diagnosed with depressive disorder. He is hurting himself and talking about dying. He is in therapy multiple times a week and attends Al-anon meetings when they are offered at school. He goes to school yelling about his dad lying, he throws desks, etc.

Each time his dad has relapsed, my son has had increasingly severe episodes. I'm ready to cut his dad out until he is old enough and stable enough to decide for himself. I have asked my son's father to meet with my son and his therapist but he refuses. My son does not want me to make this decision and thinks his dad will get better.

Is cutting a dad out of their child life ever the right choice? I am aware of my rights. I have full custody and do not have to allow him visitation. I just struggle with whether or not this is the appropriate decision.

  • 1
    You may also want to look at Should I cut my child's dad out of his life?, which has a somewhat similar situation and the answers may be helpful.
    – Acire
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 22:44
  • First of all, you need to know that you are a great mother. Despite the emotional distress it must be giving you to continue to have to deal with this abusive person, you are obviously more concerned about what is best for your children that for your own welfare. It sounds like you need to take steps to protect your children from possibly being hurt during one of your ex's binges. Maybe once he is faced with losing contact with his son, it may help push him into straightening out his life. Commented May 6, 2015 at 23:47
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    I'm not supporting the VTC, although it's similar to the other question, the nature of the relationship is different. There, the father is merely mostly absent and a disappointment. Here, the father's actions (not inaction) are directly, adversely affecting the health of the child.
    – user11394
    Commented May 7, 2015 at 18:34
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    Your son is already in therapy. I would suggest maybe having the therapist talking about his dad's behavior and how it's best to wait until he's better to be around him. When adults have these issues, it is not the parent's responsibility of the child to "see them through". The child needs to be protected while the adult takes care of themselves.
    – user11394
    Commented May 7, 2015 at 18:36

1 Answer 1


Yes, sometimes it is. Sometimes a bad parent is much worse than an absent parent.

That's certainly true in the case of physical abuse. There are degrees of emotional abuse, and while cancelling visits at the last moment is very painful, I'm not sure that it's grounds for refusing visitation. But you know the extent to which your son is mistreated much better than we do.

You've done well to try to keep your son's father in his life, and it's clear that your heart is breaking for your son. However, for emotional abuse, you can't legally make that determination alone; there is too much responsibility and potential guilt associated with that decision, if not now, then down the line. Please talk with a good therapist (not a school counselor) and make it with them. Get a second opinion if you need to.

What you can do now, though, is to deny your ex's visits to protect your son. He places your son in jeopardy not only by driving under the influence, but every time he abuses alcohol in your son's presence. If you go to court to change visitation, your ex may well be required by the court to attend an alcohol rehabilitation program and/or counseling. The ability to resume visitation will be contingent on successfully completing the program, and may also include family counseling, which is giving your ex the opportunity to get his act together.

You might consider therapy as well. Dealing with the problems your son is having has to be very difficult, and you can probably benefit from professional advice. It's an awful lot to deal with on your own.

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