It was a few moons ago now that @coffeecurls and I were having a talk about something or other, when she used the expression “you’re on a hiding to nothing”.
That expression has stuck with me ever since! It came back to bite me yesterday.
Bit of Background
OnlyDads was contacted by a dad a year or so ago now. His situation was far from straightforward. I met up with him for a catch-up yesterday. Things have now reached the point of impossible.
OnlyDads exists to help dads (and mums) find solutions to family predicaments. The one (and perhaps only) advantage of me running the show, is that there are not too many situations that phase me. I have faced many myself, and sort of come out the other end. Albeit wiser and weaker!
So when I find myself telling a Dad he’s on “a hiding to nothing” – things really are difficult.
Mum and Dad are divorcing. There are 5 children. (3 through to 16). Dad has brought the whole family up on his own for extended periods because sadly, Mum has been in and out of hospitals for much of this period suffering from Depression.
The most important fact to get in at this point, is that this Dad loves her. He loves her to bits! But the marriage is over. neither Mum or Dad are moving away post divorce. What Dad wants is for his children to basically have base-camp at his house, but with frequent (as in daily if possible) contact with their mum, especially when she is well, which she is from time to time.
His preferred route of going through Mediation to arrive at a solution that was clearly going to be in his children’s best interest and long-term security failed. Mum has gone to a Solicitor and is now stating in Court, that this Dad is a good for nothing A,B, C…through to Z, and the children should live with her. Children’s Act proceedings have just started.
When we met up, he told me he simply had to move out of the house because of the constant rowing – it was upsetting for all the children. Her health and general well-being were sinking while he remained in the house. In the few weeks since then however, his children have been left on their own for extended periods, and basic stuff around the house (cooking food and cleaning and bedtimes) are not being done. Two of the older children came to him the other day and said they really wanted out of there, and needed to move in with Dad. They told him the youngest child especially was really not coping without him at home.
To stress again, this is a Dad who wants peace and security for his children. He knows (because of Mum’s illness), that if the Court really got to hear the whole history, he would end up with the children and Mum would end up a broken – possibly dead – woman. There have been suicide attempts previously.
Going around the Houses
We discussed all his options. There were no rose-tinted spectacles available to us!
99% of the time I would be saying to a Dad in this situation that he has to find out what is “in the best interests of his children”, and then find the backbone and the wherewithal to execute that solution. But with a Mum is such a terribly vulnerable position, such easy words were not appropriate.
This is one of those posts that need an update. I will do so, when further news is available. For now however, I just wonder what the wonderful commentators on this blog would be doing if they were the dad. I told him I would be writing this up.