My child's father has been completely absent since the first week of my child's life. There has been no contact until now (6 years later). He lives around the corner and passes us everyday, he has not paid a single penny for the upbringing of his child and he has a drug, alcohol and gambling addiction which seems to come before everything and everyone. My child has been asking about his dad recently, as his friends have questioned him about it in school. Last week i was contacted by the father asking to meet and arrange something. Should I give him the time and meet with him and possibly arrange something? or should I move on and focus completely on my child's wellbeing as he is an extremely happy boy with the life he has now and should i let my child make the decision of finding him and meeting him when he gets older?
My child has been asking about his dad recently, as his friends have questioned him about it in school.
What specifically was he asking about? Would meeting his father actually help answer these questions or what is else going through his mind?
he has a drug, alcohol and gambling addiction
This may be difficult for a 6 year old to understand and put proper into context.
i was contacted by the father asking to meet
Why did the father reach out now? Did he gave a specific reason? Is there anything different now than it was for the last six years?
Should I give him the time and meet with him
I think this would be helpful, just to assess the situation. You would need to prepare for this meeting. Things to discuss
- What does the father actually want? Why interact now after six years of completely ignoring the child.
- Does the father intend to play an active role in the child's live? What would that role be? How would the child benefit from it?
- What are the rules of engagement. Absolutely no alcohol, drugs or gambling around the kid. What topics can be talked about. What's the story if the kid asks "why are you never there"
- What changes in his life is the father willing to make, to be a better father?
Unless the father makes some serious concessions and shows real effort to make this work, I would deny a meeting.
should i let my child make the decision of finding him and meeting him when he gets older?
Not exactly. You are his mother and you probably will need to help him with this. I would take cues from the boy. Listen to his questions and answer them truthfully (but not hateful or resentful). "Your father has a lot of personal problems and at the moment he cannot be a real father to you. This may change over time but that's the situation at the moment".
If you get to a point where these answers don't work anymore and you feel it would be beneficial for the boy to meet the father you can help to facilitate that to make sure it's safe and the child is properly prepared in terms of behavior and expectations.
Before allowing the father and son to meet, you might want to join at least one relevant support group meeting: Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, Gam-Anon, and/or Smart Recovery Family & Friends. These support groups are not for addicts themselves: they are for family members and ex-partners of addicts. They offer in-person and online meetings in various countries. Arrive ten minutes early, and hang around for a while after the meeting ends. Introduce yourself to people there, and tell them that this is your first meeting.
You can tell someone from the support group some more in-depth information about your situation; perhaps they can give you some more advice which we haven't yet mentioned in this thread.
At some point later in the future, you might also want to check out these other resources as well. They include books, websites, and YouTube videos which you may find helpful.