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My son is 9 years old, and is very upset that he can't see his dad.

When he was 4 my ex (who was my husband at the time) adopted him. Soon after we divorced. At first he was very consistent in my son's life. As the time went by he slowed down and then came to a stop in seeing my son. He got into drugs went over a year without seeing him. Then I started letting him again. Now nothing; he's gone again. Recently my ex has been asking me to come see him. My son loves him more than anything and is always asking if he can see him and I just say no.

My question is: should I let him? Is it better for my son to see his father every now and then never knowing when or not at all?

Please help because seeing my son hurt is the worst thing I've ever felt in my life!!

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    Sorry if this is obvious to everyone but me - are you the biological mother of this boy? – Floris Dec 1 '15 at 19:15
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    Do you feel there is physical danger to your son if you let him visit? And has he stopped doing drugs (and you're confident he won't resume)? – corsiKa Dec 1 '15 at 19:35
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    Also, you specifically mention adopted. Does the ex still have any legal claim to your son? – corsiKa Dec 1 '15 at 19:37
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    We are not talking hiccups here, I see. I strongly believe you should seek the professional opinion of an expert. – Tobia Tesan Dec 1 '15 at 20:33
  • Is there any reasonable chance of a rational discussion of the complete problem with your ex? Can he be trusted in terms of a future agreement about (his/)your son? – user2338816 Dec 2 '15 at 2:32
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You love your son, and so you don't want to see him hurt. And you can tell that your son hurts because he can't see his adoptive father. But you also want to protect your son from harm, and you know that allowing your son to see his father could harm your son, or could cause your son to be upset when the father is inconsistent with visits.

If you do allow your son to see his father you will want to put some strict rules in place. Your ex must be sober when your son is present. Your ex should be consistent with meeting times. Your ex should show you what activities are planned before the meetings happen. You explain that if your ex does anything to harm the child, or put the child at risk of harm that the meetings either stop or happen under strict supervision (and the father pays for that supervision). You explain to your ex that continued contact with the child can only happen if these things happen.

You also need to be able to talk to your son about why you are protecting him from harm. You love him very much. It's not safe for him to be around people who are drunk or on drugs. And you don't want him to be upset when his father doesn't go to meetings.

You could talk to your son, and ask him to come up with some rules that the father must obey. This might include things like "if you say you're going to turn up you have to turn up", or "you must not be drunk when you're with me".

This way you allow your child to see his father, and you make it very clear if meetings don't happen that it is the fault of the father not turning up, and not you banning meetings.

It's a difficult situation.

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    I find this answer overly biased on not at all based on what the OP provided. Nothing in the question suggests the father is an alcoholic or was ever drunk (or drunk in the present of the child). The comment "He got into drugs" could be anything from sometimes smoking weed to daily heroine usage (I don't see any problem with the first; I very much see a problem with the latter). Assuming that the "ex does anything to harm the child" is not based on anything the OP said; on the contrary, the child seems to have a fantastic relationship with the dad. – Reinstate Monica - dirkk Dec 1 '15 at 16:56
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    @dirkk probably overly biased, but I think the points hold true - the visiting parent needs to make and keep commitments, dangerous behavior should not be tolerated, etc. – Wayne Werner Dec 1 '15 at 18:23
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    @dirkk Replace drunk with "under the influence of drugs" and the answer seems to be fine. It's easier than typing out "under the influence of drugs" 20 times. – corsiKa Dec 1 '15 at 19:36
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    Also @dirkk, just because the child badly wants more time with his father doesn't mean their relationship is "fantastic". In fact, it is quite common for a child who is being emotionally abused by a parent (and abandonment is classified as abuse, BTW) to become obsessed with repairing the relationship. Children tend to take the blame for failed relationships with their parents. I've seen it over and over in a support group that I used to moderate for. You wouldn't believe the things a child will assume responsibility for. – Francine DeGrood Taylor Dec 4 '15 at 1:13
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    @dirkk You can write your own answer. I'm not going to change mine. And I haven't said he shouldn't see the kind, I've clearly said he should see the kid. The only reasons I've given for him not seeing the kid are if he is a child abusing drunk. And even then I've said he can see the kid under supervision. You've latched onto the alcohol, but most of my answer is about being consistent with visits. – user19912 Dec 4 '15 at 12:07
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I fully endorse the answer by Leopoldo Sparks. We don't have enough information to recommend a course of action, but from the few hints we have, being cautious seems to be well advised. Ideally the son can see the father, but it might be prudent to have some security measures in place, such as not letting the father be alone with his son.

But that's just repeating what Leopoldo already said. What I would like to add is that you (the mother) might want to consider therapy for your child. I know that your child is neither mentally disordered nor psychologically instable, but the fact that your son is – probably continually or repeatedly – "upset that he can't see his dad" might in fact cause him harm.

Some children overcome separation from a parent (by blood or adoption) easily, while others take this very much to heart and over time develop a psychological condition that can range from depression to aggression.

Though I don't work with children, I am a psychologist and have many colleagues who do. In our psychological outpatient clinic, there are quite a few children who have no other "problem" than that their parents are divorced. Sometimes they suffer from the quarrels between the parents, sometimes from visiting arrangements that disrupt their own private life (such as seeing their friends). None of these children are psychologically "sick", but all of them suffer from life circumstances that overtax them. And they all profit from an outside ally, an adult explanation, and strategies to deal with their own emotions.

So if you have the opportunity to let your son see a qualified child psychologist, I would recommend that to you.

All the best!

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