Post # 1
The background: I have sole legal and physical custody of my 3 year old daughter and 5 yeard old son who have the same Dad. We split long before I moved out, but the kids and I moved out when my daughter was 1 and my son was 3. My son has always been mama’s boy and has never been really interested much in his dad. When we all lived together his dad always worked nights and we really only saw him at dinner time. Their dad has never bathed them, dressed them, fed them, tucked them in, woke them up in the morning…. all the normal parenting stuff that creates important bonds. He was never around or helpful for any of it. It’s part of the reason I left. When I filed for custody he never responded to anything and under the advice of a lawyer I marked the box that said “reasonable visitation” with Dad. That basically means whatever I find reasonable (as long as I am genuinely being reasonable of course). We had a schedule worked out where he would take them Sun, then thursday, then Monday, then Sunday, then Thursday then Monday for 4-6 hours. It is not court ordered. He lives in a one bedroom and has nothing there for them besides a few toys to play with. Last November he said he was too busy on Mondays and dropped them from our schedule. Since then he has only been seeing them every other thursday and every other Sunday. He cancels often and picks them up late and brings them home early. Despite it all I go out of my way to never say a bad thing about him. I don’t even tell the kids they are going to his house until I’m certain he’s not cancelling or something. Then I try to get them excited to go. He recently picked Mondays back up on his visitation schedule.
My son has high functioning autism and/or severe ADHD (the doctors can’t figure him out). The straw that broke the camels back and sent me packing was a related incident. When my son was 3 he could NOT stop jumping on the couch. You would remind him 100 times and 100 times he would listen, get down, and end up jumping again within the minute. He was propelled by a force stronger than nature to jump. One day he was jumping on the couch and his dad told him to stop. He didn’t listen and jumped right on his dad’s balls. His dads knee jerk reaction was to hit him repeatedly in the butt and back until I could get over there and snatch him up. I think he was just trying to spank him on the butt but our son was little and his hands were large. It left red marks on him and I filed a CPS report and moved out. It’s on file but no investigation was needed as we moved out. “Spanking” is a weird grey area from a legal stand point in case you didn’t know. I only mention it because it will always be a concern to me.
That brings us to now. Sometimes, my son goes to his dads to visit with no drama. Often though, like today, he screams and cries and says he doesn’t want to go. I just do NOT know what do do about it. Today I had to carry him to the car shoeless and wrestle him in to the carseat. He then pointed right at his Dad 5 times and yelled “I DON’T LIKE YOU!!”. Not normal behavior from him, but not really abnormal behavior from a five year old not getting his way in general. Listening to him scream as they drive away is THE WORST feeling ever. I do worry to some extent about his dads temper (given the past) in these situations. My son however, is easy to set off. Like today for example, I think he may have just been upset because he was hoping to stay home and play video games. He also hates to be away from me (though he manages fine at school) so some of it may be seperation anxiety. I don’t think his Dad is doing anything wrong to make him feel this way. That’s what my mommy gut says at least. On days like this, when he returns home he seems to have had fun (I don’t want to probe toooo much or put ideas in his head and he doesn’t say much). I’ll usually get at least a “we played” and “we ate pizza” out of my son. So do I just continue to force him to go?? I always end up being the “bad guy”. My baby begs and pleads to stay home while grabbing on to me for dear life. His Dad stands back and watches while I wrestle him in to his car. Part of me worries he’d be rough with him if I didn’t do it so I feel obligated. I do tend to over worry and baby him though. I have to be honest about that :/ What would you do if you were me???
Post # 2
Therapy for your son. There MIGHT be things going on that he cannot properly express. Either way, he is having difficulty with the split and it can help him cope.
Post # 3
With his diagnosis we already have an occupational theapist, a speech therapist, a developmental specialist, an ALTA Regional Center Case Manager, a psychologist (for ASD and ADHD type of stuff), a LCSW at Kaiser (who is the most helpful with this sort of thing), and we have ABA therapy. It feels like overkill. I’m going to reach out to the LCSW tomorrow though thank you for reminding me. 🙁
Post # 4
So you’ve seen your ex hit your son, you’re concerned about your ex’s temper your son acts of character when forced to go to his house….it seems like something is seriously off or something bad could be happening.
Why does your ex have unsupervised visits when you filed a cps report against him? If he did it front of you, do you think about what he could be doing when there are no other adults around?
Post # 5
My son is 8 and also has high functioning autism. I am not with his bio dad but I do not allow him to see him. He’s never fought me for visitation and I told him as long as he stays away I will not try to collect child support. So, here we are 8 years later and my husband is my sons dad in every other sense of the word. His bio dad is bat shit and he would take my son off with him over my dead cold body. I don’t trust him, he is abusive.
Anyway, I say all that to let you know we have a similar background so I sort of know where you’re coming from. I don’t think you should be forcing your son to go with his dad at all, I think this is damaging with the details you mentioned about dads temper along with your sons condition. It doesn’t sound like dad would even be all that bothered anyway. Could you pull back on the visits and perhaps have dad come over to your place for smaller visits? I just don’t think stressing your son out is beneficial to his well being. And what happens when your son accidentally hurts dad again and you aren’t there to check his temper? Hell no.
Post # 6
I think it was a bad choice on his part and an incident of “spanking gone wrong” but it did sat badly enough with me for me to leave. I contacted law enforcement 1st who told me spanking is a very gray area and is not illegal. They said I could call CPS so I did. CPS “filed” a report but said no further investigation was warranted because we left. They said to call back if I felt they were in danger or if I suspect abuse in the future.
When I filed for custody I just put “reasonable visitation” at the advice of a lawyer rather than “supervised visits”. For about 6 months I only allowed him supervised visits and his mother or sister had to be present. He completed counseling during this time (under court order for a custody case with his teenage daughter). Before we split he had 50/50 custody of his teenager. When I left him she no longer wanted to see him. Her mother got a lawyer and the mediator ate him alive. She ordered counseling. He no showed for court so it became an order. He now sees her for 4 hours every Sunday and that’s it. Our arrangement is similar. After completing counseling, he gave me a letter from his counselor that stated he was of no risk to his children. The lawyer said I couldn’t really justify the “supervised visits” after that if he wanted to fight it. None of this was through the court. At least not on my custody case. My custody case just says I have sole legal and physical custody and I will allow him “reasonable visitation”.
My son is very verbal and is very much a tattle tell. I feel like he would say something. I messaged his LCSW about this though. I don’t know how to ask him properly with out being suggestive or putting things in his head. My gut says nothing bad is happening there and that he’s just decided he doesn’t like him, or it’s boring. Hopefully I’m right. I don’t know what to do.
Please excuse the grammar and typos. Lord knows there’s a ton
Post # 7
Oh, boy. I feel for you. And your son.
Based on your description I’ll assume your son thrives on routine. And he’s not getting that from a man who cancels last-minute. He may benefit from a more limited but more likely schedule (once a week?)
Hopefully all the people working with your son are aware of your family history, including the violent response that caused you to leave your ex, and will alert you to any concerns expressed by your son. If not–inform them.
Does your ex have any understanding of your son’s specific needs and how to address them? Is he willing to learn?
Post # 8
Their dad is a “public figure” and cares VERY MUCH what other people think of him. He’s gone as far as to show up at my sons soccer game, snap a pic with him, post it on FB and leave. He cares tremendously about what others think of him, therefore he would never just give up or go away. If you saw him on social media he just may convince you he’s dad of the year too. He puts on one hell of a show. Sadly our kids are part of that show. He needs them for his image. That’s truly how I feel about him. I wish he put that much energy in to actually building a relationship with them. He’s ordered to pay a good chunk for child support too (they included it when I filed for custody, I didn’t ask for it) but he pays it when it’s convenient for him and almost always shorts me by $300-500. He’s an independent contractor or I would DCSS go after him. It would be squeezing blood from a turnip. He lies and lies about his income. It’s yet another reason he won’t go away though.
Post # 9
The people that work with him are aware. He is willing to listen when I tell him about our sons needs, but refuses the training from the ABA therapist. They offered 1 hour of training a month for him. He said he’s not with them enough and that he doesn’t have any problems with our son when he’s there so he doesn’t need training. He doesn’t attend IEP’s or appointments. :/
Post # 10
When I was a kid, I didn’t want to go see my dad because he was mean to me. He would make fun of me and always put me down. I was always sad around him and miserable when I was made to see him. My mom didn’t make me go after a few months even though it was court ordered. I was old enough to tell her. Unfortunately, your son isn’t.
I think you need to go with your gut. Listen to your son. If he’s upset, let his dad come over to YOUR place to visit or meet in a neutral area so you can still be there.
Post # 11
Would it be possible to approach a lawyer with your observations, as well as recommendations from your son’s therapists, to try and get a mandated schedule put in place (eg his father has him every second weekend)? I second PPs who have mentioned that children with ADHD or ASD thrive on routine and clear expectations. If his father is constantly changing the visitation dates, and if there are not clear behavioural expectations in place at his house like there are in yours, the resulting confusion can lead to high anxiety and acting out in children with these conditions.
Post # 12
my brother has spina bidifa. when my parents divorced, my dad took my brother on thursdays (me if i was home or felt like going, i was older).
days when he came back from my dad’s, his behavior was always awful to my mother. he couldn’t control his anger. our dad was not reliable, would cancel a lot, etc. but my brother always had perfect behavior and took it out on my mom.
your son is still young and with autism, he needs routine.
Post # 13
I would like to gently recommend this “community” as a resource for you. The first link is Jess’s blog where you can pose your question on the Community Support Page, and the second is her Facebook page, which is a wonderful community of autistics, parents, and others.
The most important thing I have learned from the DOAM community is behavior is communication. I think your child is communicating loud and clear.