Your dilemmas: I'm afraid my kids are not safe with their dad

In her weekly column, JOAN LONG, a Bishopstown psychologist and psychotherapist, answers readers’ queries
Your dilemmas: I'm afraid my kids are not safe with their dad

"My worry is he has a new girlfriend and from what I hear from the children there is a lot of drinking and people over in his house." Picture: stock, posed by model

Dear Joan,

I am a separated mother of two and waiting to get divorced. My ex sees my children two days a week and every other weekend they stay over with him.

My worry is he has a new girlfriend and from what I hear from the children there is a lot of drinking and people over in his house.

Their dad has always liked his drink and is a bit of a party animal. We both used to socialise, I drew back from the lifestyle when our first child was born, and he didn’t.

I was OK with this in the earlier years but now I find it too much for the kids. Their time with their dad is precious, I respect that, but I am afraid they may not be safe with him at weekends. What would happen if they had a fall or got sick?

I have spoken to my own family about this and to some friends but they seem to think I am too “precious”! I do not agree as they are helpless little children and have been through enough.

Our marriage ended because my ex was having an affair and I found out, but I suppose it had not been good for a few years.

I do not know his new girlfriend but the kids seem to like her, she plays with them and takes them walking and shopping. I cannot really communicate with their father as he has become very angry with me about the family home, which I live in and hope to keep. He wants it too. The court will have to decide this in time, I expect.

Please don’t tell me to send him a solicitor’s letter, we spent the first two years after the initial separation fighting that way and I could not go back to that.

Dear Reader.

I am sorry to read this. Of course you worry for your kids if you have reasons to believe their dad and friends may be drinking, etc, while they sleep over with him.

I can picture you without the kids, pondering and worrying that they may not be safe. That must be awful for you if you’re sitting alone on a Saturday night, for example.

It is unfortunate your friends or family don’t appreciate your dilemma. It makes your place more isolated and lonely. You do not say if you are in a relationship, but if you’re not, your path with this is a more lonely one.

Can you speak to your husband in a mature, appropriate manner, to share your concerns? Perhaps pre-empt the conversation by letting him know you believe you are both singing from the same hymn sheet. That this is about the kids and you are not criticising him and wish him well in his new relationship. Do you think this may calm the waters?

It is better, in my opinion and experience, if parents communicate without the need of a legal facilitator. Keep it open and respectful.

If you cannot speak to your ex, is there a mutual friend or family member of his whom you could voice your concern to? If this is not possible, unfortunately you will have little choice but to consult your solicitor.

Another option may be to ask your ex if her would be willing to attend a counsellor/family therapist to discuss this with you.

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