At The End Of Your Tether

Sometimes at the OnlyDads office we hear from men who are clearly at breaking point. Can I share the latest such case?

no names mentioned and one or two slight details have been changed. The vast bulk of this post is fact.

Position as of this morning:

  • Dad raising four children, 6, 10, 14, and 15
  • Children have NO contact with Mum. Mum is not in a good place! He is the full-time carer for his children.
  • Dad has lost his job and is in economic melt-down. He has to move from his current home very soon because of money.
  • His 15yo son is drug-taking and becoming increasingly violent towards Dad and siblings. Things are going missing from the house.
  • Dad admits to being “out of control”
  • GP has put Dad on drugs for depression and suggested counselling. Dad is doing neither.
  • 15yo has started using the house as a place for drug-dealers to hang out. Dad knows this is wrong and unacceptable.

My understanding

We are talking to a broken man. He is clearly educated – but tears and just a never-ending stream of hardship and a very difficult domestic set-up have driven this man to breaking point. He is at the end of his tether.

Crisis point

Dad is supposed to be down the Job Centre for a meeting to ensure he continues to receive benefits. He says he can’t go. He is (you may know this state) beyond tears. He tells me he has contacted OnlyDads because we may understand.

His repeated assertion that he “would prefer death than having to carry on” (exact words)has left us in a position where we have to act.

Advice Given

The seriousness  of this case led me to seek our own professional opinion yesterday. I passed the advice on to him this morning.

  1. Go to your GP and/or Child and Adolescent Mental Health service urgently. He isn’t going to. He says because he hasn’t done what the GP suggested previously and he can’t face him.
  2. Go the Police regarding your sons drug taking and threats of violence. He isn’t going to do this either for fear that there will be repercussions on him. He is very scared that his other children will be taken away from him, because he knows the facts are he isn’t really coping.

Magic Wand

This Dad needs urgent respite and, to use that word, holistic and urgent advice. It breaks my heart that OnlyDads and OnlyMums do not yet have a “buddy” system up and running nor indeed links to professional crisis teams that can step in and help Dad regain self-respect and take control. This is not the first time OnlyDads has been presented with a potential catastrophe! My God we know what is needed…but lack of human and financial resource continually dog our ambition for making this the organisation it needs to be!

It has taken me 15 minutes to dash off this post. I do not want to be hearing on the news that another single dad has taken his own life and if you are a professional reading this who thinks they can offer genuine and urgent advice to OnlyDads, please email me at

Many thanks. Bob

About onlydads

Single Dad living near Totnes in Devon. I founded in 2007 and live with my daughters Priya, 14 and Anya 11. I write about single parenting, work, overcoming trials and tribulations and sometimes not overcoming trials and tribulations.
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11 Responses to At The End Of Your Tether

  1. Bob, if this Dad (or any other parent) needs a Buddy, I’m here. Happy to be called at any time, day or night.

    I know what he’s going through, I’ve been suicidal, out of control, needing depression medication but not wanting to take it in case it made me “doped up” and feeling more out of control. I’ve had to deal with an absent parent who wouldn’t make an effort to spend time with our children. I’ve supported my new SAHD partner with his teenage child who got into a bad crowd and was doing drugs.


    I know it won’t seem possible to this dad at the moment, but he can, too. If he needs people to talk to, I’m happy to listen, for however long it takes.


  2. Leigh says:

    I’ve emailed Bob separately, but Like Anna have been through times of crisis as a lone parent and can appreciate the problems this guy is facing.

    As such through the charity I work for in Newcastle upon Tyne, am setting up a lone parent support group, the aim is to set up a lone parent group initially for mutual support, we can pool our experiences, knowledge and skills, to then support newer/less experienced lone parents or those in times of crisis.

    If this single father in crisis is in my region, I hope he gets in touch and can come along, I’ll leave it to Bob whether or not he wishes to share my details and that of the new group.

  3. A Samaritan says:

    Sounds to me like right now, he’s had enough of professionals and being told what he should be doing. When somebody’s in a place like that, Samaritans is a good port of call – no advice, no judgement, just someone to listen. There’ll be time to deal with the rest later if he can get through this crisis, but for now, it doesn’t sound like people trying to ‘fix’ stuff is quite what he needs… People just being there might make all the difference. Fingers crossed.

  4. Diana Jordan says:

    Wise words from a Samaritan. And I would love to know from Anna and Leigh what it was that enabled them to pull through: what kept you going, and what was it that eventually helped you to see things differently? Something someone said, or didn’t say, medication, counselling … or just waking up one morning and seeing the sun was shining: your world does sort itself out and time does heal everything eventually, if you can just hang on in there long enough.
    One thing that can help in such times of crisis is to keep repeating to yourself: “this too will pass” as a mantra to cancel out all the negative self-talk and jumble of thoughts and feelings that keep colliding in your head, wearing you out and making you unable to make even the smallest decision.
    I hope Bob is able to convey to this Dad that we are all rooting for him and willing him to come through this: there are four children here who desperately need him to pull through.

  5. @Diana, in my case, first and foremost, my kids came first. At my lowest moments, they were and are always my rock. I could not leave them without knowing I’d equipped them to survive life in all its myriad forms.

    I’m also a Domestic Violence survivor; bugging out without anything except the clothes on my back and having to go to court to negotiate residence orders for two of my children taught me how to prioritise quite nicely.

    I’ve seen what anti-depressants, Prozac etc do to somebody – I couldn’t take that and still be certain I was going to be fully there for my children. I was scared that if I asked for counselling it would be used as a reason to take my children away from me, so I avoided my GP like the plague.

    I still get panic attacks, mainly when I can’t immediately find my purse – I am so scared of not having money again (DV) that I cease to function rationally.

    I find having a spiritual link or at least a sense that there is something out there that I can strive towards, helps. I had a Christian upbringing but found that Buddhist philosophy was my anchor, due in part to the dominant religious philosophy of my abusive ex.

    My SAHD partner was widowed, his daughter “went off the rails” as part of her grieving process. Both mourned for years. It took him some time to accept that divorcees can need to go through the same grief process.

    In part, we helped each other through our troubles; I would listen for hours if necessary, knowing that he would listen when he was able to. Venting to somebody who understands and will not judge is so important – Samaritans are great for that. Our children are amazing – his daughter is a proud mum now, and knows through experience just how much we both love and accept her, as do my four.

    We need to remember that there are times when we need to be children again; when it’s ok to hold the hand of someone we trust and let them lead us through life, support us when we stumble. Whether that’s your God, your Angel, a total stranger or your best friend is up to you. I truly believe that when the need is great, that help will appear. You just need to open the door enough to let them squeeze in and help.

  6. Diana Jordan says:

    What a lovely posting Anna, you’ve brought tears to my eyes and I’m so glad I asked the question as I’m sure what you’ve said will bring strength and comfort to others parents in distress.
    Could I just try and dispel some of the myths about children being taken away. Having previously acted for many children being taken into care, as well as lots of parents, I am not social services’ greatest fan, but sometimes they do get an unneccesarily bad press. It may be helpful for people to know that most of the children’s homes in the country were closed many years ago and foster carers are in desperately short supply. This can mean that some parents are refused even if they beg social services to take their children away for a while. If children are taken into foster care every effort is made to get them home again, or with other family members, as soon as possible. Foster care is expensive and councils do not have money to spare these days where it can possibly be saved.
    Unfortunately this also means that the resources are often not available for prevention eg paying for a home help, after school clubs, expert help for the drug problem and counselling for the Dad we are thinking about here, even with a top-up of his benefits, would cost the local authority £££££££££s less than taking four children into care. Some councils are better resourced than others so it’s always worth asking what help might be available. Obviously if children are being abused or seriously neglected (the test in court is whether they are at risk of significant harm) they may be removed and you would be better advised to keep a low profile, but even in serious cases they will be returned if they possibly can be. Respite care can be a life-saver and it sounds as though this is exactly what this poor father needs right now. Most foster-carers are, in my opinion, nothing short of saints, and will take excellent care of needy children. Parents need also never be afraid of seeking help by way of counselling, indeed it is often one of the requirements before children are returned to their family. Counselling is seen as a sign of strength not weakness … although in my view a certain degree of strength is required to enable someone to embark on this, and a parent in crisis is often not in a place to benefit from it. The Samaritans are wonderful people and I would urge anyone feeling suicidal to call them, and preferably before they feel quite that bad.

  7. Hi again, Diana.

    I totally agree with everything you say re respite care, counselling and the Samaritans. I was greatly helped by the Samaritans, who I phoned half-way through a bottle of painkillers. They got a taxi to me, listened to my pain and then got me to a hospital for a checkup. I can’t recommend them highly enough. I also know some very lovely, very dedicated social workers who desperately want to help and are deeply hurt by the fear and distrust they encounter every day from parents at the end of their tether.

    My own fear of having my children taken from me was, in the main, instilled by the ex who effectively controlled me whilst we were in the relationship through access to my own children when we were all still living together. After almost 3 years of being brainwashed, I was as well trained as one of Pavlov’s dogs…

    For a while, I was both a DV telephone help line support person and a Homestart volunteer. That experience showed me just how afraid many parents are of the case management process they have to undergo when social services and other agencies get involved. When you are at your wits end and stressed/depressed, you are not thinking straight and the simplest offer of agency help can and will be misinterpreted as your worst nightmare revealed.

    At that point, you need the support and advice of somebody who’s been through those experiences; it’s one of those “walk a mile in their shoes” situations…

    Oddly, this is the first time in 23 years I’ve managed to be this open about my own situation and I’m still shaking as I type :-S

    But I’ve realised that getting the message across is more important than my own fears. I cannot and will not allow myself to be controlled by another’s view of me any more, not when somebody’s wellbeing is at stake.

    (Hope that doesn’t come across as too weird!)

    I think Bob, Rachel and everyone who helps and supports their work are wonderful; there needs to be funding for them and others like them. The generosity of spirit is awe-inspiring and I’m glad I discovered Bob’s blog.

  8. Aaarrggghhh – That should have been Rebecca, not Rachel. Sorry, Rebecca. 😦

  9. Just thought, if the Dad is being evicted, there are things he can do to bump himself up the housing queue. I can provide further advice if needed?

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