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Why would a man not want to be a part of his son’s life? I have a 4-month-old son whose father has seen him only a half-dozen times – and only when I took the boy to visit. The father is 27 and has a job, but he’s never helped his son financially or physically. I have filed for child support, and when the man does talk to me, he just argues and tells me he’s going to file for 50% custody. Why would he file for custody if he’s never even been a part of the boy’s life? Our son is so smart for only being 4 months old and is such an amazing little person. Why would his father want to miss out on all this?
Those of us who embrace the role of parent can’t always understand why someone would voluntarily break off contact with a child. However, many people do just that, and for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the man is selfish and doesn’t want the responsibility. Perhaps he is scared of the commitment, or worried that he would be a bad father. And perhaps he just doesn’t like children.
To people who focus only on themselves, or only on the present, making the baby looks like the fun part. Experienced parents can attest that raising the child often proves even more rewarding, with benefits that last far longer. Yet some men (and women) willingly sign on for the weighty chore of conceiving, then try to duck out when the bill comes due.
Given this man’s lack of interest in his son so far, his talk about seeking custody is probably just an empty threat. At first blush, it sounds like an attempt to intimidate you into dropping your push for child support. However, people can change quickly. If the man has begun to feel guilty, or perhaps think about what he is missing, he may indeed pursue custody.
I’ll close this letter with three quick suggestions:
• First, don’t press your ex too hard on the matter of spending time with his son. If he is truly not interested, your overtures will only irritate him. Don’t give up on the subject, but don’t nag him about it, either.
• Second, don’t bend on your request for support. The father of your child has both a legal and a moral responsibility to support his son. If the man will not step up to the plate on his own, the courts can force him to satisfy his obligations.
• Third, if your ex does decide to sue for partial custody, don’t oppose it. Unless the man is abusive, your son should benefit from contact with his father. Remember that legal and moral responsibility I mentioned a moment ago? With that responsibility comes a legal and moral right to be a part of the boy’s life. If your ex lacks the wisdom and commitment to exercise that right, that is his loss.
Is it OK to teach children a little bladder discipline, like asking them to wait until the end of a movie, at church, or until we get home from the store? I’m not talking about making them wait hours on end, but instead not letting them go just because the feel a little urge. I’m talking about school-aged kids. I don’t want them to be the kid that asked to go during school while others can wait till break.
A little discipline is a healthy thing. However, you shouldn’t go overboard. Remember that nobody gets a prize for being the one to urinate least frequently.
Certainly you should teach bladder discipline to the extent that you prevent children from making casual trips to the bathroom. You don’t want them to use potty breaks as an excuse to get out of something they don’t want to do, or to go socialize with friends. That said, once they actually feel an urge to go, let them go.
The bladder tells us when it is time to get rid of waste fluids. Children have little to gain by training themselves to ignore that signal. And the same goes for adults.
Thank you for reading today’s Q&A. Check back here tomorrow for another installment of the Ask The Dad advice column. If you’d like to submit an Ask The Dad question, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.