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Readers Respond: How Do You Help Your Child Cope When Custody Visitation Plans Are Canceled?

Responses: 23


Unfortunately, custody visitation plans aren't always written in stone. Things come up, plans change--and, in the process, little hearts get broken. When this has happened to your child--either because custody visitation plans were changed for a legitimate reason, or because the other parent has become a repetitive "no show," what have you learned to say or do what has been particularly helpful for your child? Share your thoughts here. Share Your Strategy


Lived with my child's father until he left me and his 1-year-old to move across state, 10 hours away. He was absent from '08 until he took me to court for visitation in 2010. Then he failed to show up to the trial. Then he was absent for 3 more years. Then he started calling... I have no time for this. My child refers to him by his first name and feels he is mean because of his tone with her, and she doesn't want to talk to him. All I can say is the calls will no longer be excepted. He is cut off until he drags us to court again and wastes both of our time and money. He calls on birthdays and holidays and feels no gift is necessary since child support is paid. I would rather him give his rights up and keep his little money because it's not even a portion of the amount it takes to raise her.
—Guest Tc

Do the Best You Can

When my son was younger his dad did the No Shows. It is hard to see a child so disappointed. I'd tell my son that his dad loves him the best way he knows how, its sad that he was unable to make it and he is missing out on being with a terrific kid. After a while, I stopped telling my son that his dad was coming to visit that way he would not be disappointed. When he did show up they had a fun time. My son, now 30, is a terrific father. My son has made his own choice whether or not to keep contact with his father. He told him he knew he loved him but love alone was not enough. They seldom talk now but occasionally my son will get an email. Make sure you are not the cause of the absent father, kids can see this and will resent you for it. I told my son that anyone can father a child, but it takes a great man to be a dad. Kids are created out of love. Each parent is responsible for their own relationship with their kids. It's always whats best for the kids. Compromise for their sake!
—Guest Loretta


My ex husband just informed me that he no longer wants to see our son because he reminds him too much of me. What?! We have been divorced for seven years. Granted he has PTSD and an underling mental disorder (I swear) but his son has always been the reason for keep on keeping on. I figure he is just having one of his breakdowns. So well I attempted to explain mental illness to a nine year old. Above all else, not the child's fault and his dad still loves him but needs to get better. It is weird, but my ex wants to meet him to tell him he doesn't want to see him anymore. Ugh yeah pass.
—Guest Sarah

Broken hearts

I have two boys (13 and 8) their father was in my oldest first 2yrs of his life. Since we weren't together for a year, he felt he didn't need to see his child for that full year. We reconciled a year later, then I get pregnant with our 2nd son that same year. Upon him knowing of my pregnancy, he left again. He finally met his youngest when he was 4 1/2 and saw him 3 times. Only to disappear again for another yr. I have raised both my kids alone, with no child support or help. Their father thinks he can come and go whenever he feels lonely. It broke my heart to see my kids waiting, looking out the window and their would be no daddy coming. Now he wants to see them, after he was absent for so many years. We went to court, I have spent so much in Lawyers fees and therapy for the kids and still no child support. They gave him every other weekend visitations. Though he continues to be a no show, unless his lonely. My kids don't care to see him anymore, my kid's hearts were broken long ago.
—Guest brkn_hearts

What About the Deadbeat Moms?

My husband and I have custody of my stepdaughters and their mother has supervised visitations. Well, for the first she didn't show up, then she came for about 6 months; then she went back again to the no shows, no phone calls, and saying she's not coming... When she does talk to the girls all she does is scream at them, blame everyone else, and tell the girls they are an inconvenience to her... The oldest, who is 13, started cutting herself because "mommy doesn't love her," so we just stopped answering the phone when she does decide to call. We also told her not to bother coming anymore because her "when she decides to" attitude and brutal words are doing too much damage.
—Guest stepmom of 2 beautiful girls

Bad Mothers Too

I have been raising my stepson since he was 5. My husband was a single father when his son was 2 months old! His mother has been in and out of his life and now that he is older, I thought it would be easier, but it is not. He now looks for her on Facebook and calls her like crazy when my husband and I step out the room. He almost begs her to pick him up, and she says she will and then doesn't show. I can count on two hands the number of times she has picked him up in 8 years. She has two other children (daughters), and they are older. She went and gave them tattoos for Christmas and is happy with how they turned out -- bad, like her -- but I am not sure why he is acting like this when she has NEVER showed him any type of affection or love. He feels rejected, and I have even started therapy for him. I am currently taking her to court for failure to pay child support. All I can do is take the computer away and keep him in therapy. I always text her that I love her son and, "Thank you for being such a horrible mother!"
—Guest Dealing with a bad mother

Canceled Visitation

After 4 no-shows in one month, I just simply made his life easier by not allowing any visitations. So if he wants to see them, he will have to go to court to get visitation rights with court ordered times. And if they're broken, guess what? He has revoked his own rights. I don't play nice with a man who's willing to intentionally hurt OUR kids. Until then, for all he knows, we don't exist. Because I've uprooted to a different state, obtained my master's degree, and have changed my number and blocked him from being able to email me. So I can take care of my children and place them around loving and supportive people who won't take them and their early years for granted. Yes, I'm cold, but my kids' hearts are filled with warmth!
—Guest Proud mommy

What about forced abandonment?

We rip fathers for "abandoning" their children. Certainly, there are some worthy of that. However, there are a much greater selection of fathers who have been abused by laws that, while they claim to support both parents, are clearly motivated toward protecting women and forcing the male figure out of the children's lives. I had such a thing happen to me. Though I have always paid child support, I was blocked from previously agreed-upon visitation by my x-wife after announcing the conception of a new child to my children. There has never been any legal complaint filed against me. Yet, the courts not only failed to uphold my rights as a father, they made them effectually non-existent. So, as I walk out of my children's lives, I do it because of a crooked justice system that fails to uphold the truth of the matter. It will look like I abandoned them, but in reality the primary custody parent blocked, smothered and killed my relationship with my children.
—Guest John

Now it's Too Late, but Easier

My son's dad lived overseas, but I tried to set up regular Skype calls, etc. But there was always an excuse or lateness or just nothing (& sometimes requests for money). In the end, I stopped trying, and my 6-year-old just accepted that while he had a dad, he just wasn't here. This month, his dad had a car accident, died, and was buried before we even knew. It was the hardest thing to ever tell a child, as the concept is just not there yet. But I know that as he gets older, he'll know more about what an opportunity his dad gave up and could never get back. But at least now, it's easier for him to say my dad is dead than give a full explanation of why his dad isn't here. I think Obama is a great example of a child that grew up with an absent father and a strong mother, and who took his own opportunities. I know I can point to great sons in the world and great moms, and I'm confident that we did our best.
—Guest Ms Bery

Texts Each Month

My son is four, and I'm pregnant with my second child. His dad dropped him off over a year ago and said he didn't want to ever see him again. Right in front of our son! Now that I'm pregnant, he now "wants" him back. But he only texts me every month to let me know that I “ruined his life.” He has made some plans to come over and spend time with our son, but he never texts then or shows up. The only time I hear from him is when I've apparently done something wrong. It's always about child support and how I'm a bad parent for spending the little $81 every two weeks on our son. I've dealt with the questions: "Does my daddy hate me?" and "Why does that boy have a daddy?" It's heartbreaking. But I tell him that he has so many people in his life that are worth a million daddies. Sometimes it works, but other times I just have to say some daddies aren't ready to be daddies. It's still a struggle, and I don't put down his dad. But we make it through...
—Guest fed up

No Shows

My son is 5 now, and for the last year has not seen his dad. Well, on Friday - out of the blue - he showed up (and, yes, I keep track of who's weekend it is ). He has tried telling me it's my fault, that I wouldn't tell so-and-so to pick him up... Well, needless to say, he asked our 5-year-old, "Do you want to come to my house?" My son said, "No, thank you. But you can visit with me." His dad so no. Me and my 5-year-old are close, and he does tell me, "Mom, my daddy don't love me." I try to say he does; it's just that the other baby takes up his time, but my son knows better. What can I do after a year of him not showing up, and now he wants to? And my son freaks out; he starts crying and screaming that he doesn't want to go.
—Guest mom27

Fatherless Daughter

All I can say is that the pain of not having a father physically around can be so unbearable. I hate my dad, and I remember being so jealous of other kids who did have a father-figure.
—Guest Fatherless

He Left as Well

All the theories in the world don't change the hurt of being abandoned. May God show them in tenfold what they've done to their children!
—Guest S

She Doesn't Miss What She Never Had

My daughter is 13 now. Her dad left when she was 6 months old. He never came back, never paid any support, never asked to see her or ever sent her a birthday card. Its like she just wasn't anyone he ever knew. She is happy, healthy, caring, kind hearted, and a very loving person. I'm proud to be her mom! She was told her dad wasn't ready to be a dad. He wanted to have fun with his friends and not have to pay bills all the time, so he left. She understood and has never asked about him. She is loved and she knows that I've worked hard to make her content. It's his loss!
—Guest pa mom

"You Should Have Picked a Better Dad..."

Yep, that's what my daughter said to me after (yet again) her father failed to call. Fortunately/unfortunately he has no legal rights to our child whatsoever, but I try to keep the contact. It's hard to see your child suffering and know that ultimately your choices brought this on. So we deal with the disappointment and the anger. I try to always create our "Special" time at least three times a week. We'll go have ice cream, to a movie, or a park. I always tell my daughter that her father loves her, but sometimes he just doesn't think. That leads into a discussion of the "How comes?" "How come daddy doesn't call, see me, care...?" The list goes on. So I try to focus on the good things and I always tell her how thankful and grateful I am to have her. I tell her that I must have done something very special for God to have given her to me. Then she smiles and our lives go on, until the next time her father calls (which is usually months later) and we repeat the process.

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How Do You Help Your Child Cope When Custody Visitation Plans Are Canceled?

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