Dear Ann Landers,
My son's father has taken a permanent leave of absence from our lives. "Arthur" and I divorced when my son was 6. He is now 11.
After the divorce, Arthur was supposed to have custody of our son every weekend. The court order said he should pick up the boy on Friday evening and return him on Sunday night. Arthur immediately made it clear that Friday nights were for bowling and he had to work on Saturdays. He offered to pick our son up Saturday night and return him Sunday. I told Arthur that wasn't good enough. I also said he needed to spend more than one evening a week with his son and should make whatever arrangements were necessary to follow the court order. At that point, Arthur became angry and stopped having any contact with us. He said I made things too difficult.
Arthur pays child support, but he never calls or sees his son. He doesn't send birthday cards or Christmas gifts either. I feel very bad for our boy. He is growing up without a positive male role model in his life. I have not remarried, and my parents live in another state.
Was I wrong to insist that Arthur follow the rules? Arthur says it's my fault he no longer sees his son. Should I have been more flexible about the scheduling? I would really appreciate your advice, Ann. -- Single Parent in Iowa
Too bad you picked such a lemon for a husband. Unfortunately, you two have a lot of deep-seated anger and unresolved problems. You are still fighting it out, and your son is the battleground. For the child's sake, you both need to be a lot more giving. After five years of living apart, the wounds should have healed. Apparently, they haven't, so please get some counseling, and learn how to resolve whatever differences you have.