[Editor's note: this letter has been condensed.]
I'm worried about my son's relationship with his father. His father and I split when I was only 4 months pregnant. His father is actually married to someone else, during the time of our relationship they were separated, he was living in his own apartment....Upon finding out about my pregnancy, the estranged wife threatened to take his other 3 kids away across the country if he did not come back to live with them and cut ties with me and the baby.
Now our son is a toddler. His father comes to visit a couple times a week (at most) and he pays child support. The problem is that while he wants a relationship with our son, his visitation is unreliable. His other children (ages 4, 6, 8) do not know they have a half sibling, and he keeps his visits secret from his wife. The support agreement has no visitation agreement written into it. When he visits, I often have very little notice or he cancels last minute. The visits are also often very short (like 20 minutes). I'm a single, full-time working mother to a toddler, schedule changes are not easy to accommodate, and they disrupt my son's daily routine. He gets very agitated when his father leaves....
I'm wondering what is best here. I want my son to have a relationship with his father, but I fear the one that he has will only be disruptive and disappointing. I'm also extremely uncomfortable with my son being a "secret." I do not want to enable his father's behavior, but I also do not want to prevent a relationship that maybe in the future could be normal. What is the best course of action here? Thank you for your insight.
From: The Other Son, North Shore, MA