Wedding Woes

I'd say something, knowing the friendship would be over.

Dear Prudence,

A friend (not a great friend, not a best friend, just a friend) of mine found out her husband had been serially cheating on her throughout their marriage. At the time she had two young boys and was pregnant with her third. They have been divorcing. She claims he never wants to see the kids or be involved. He does not have any formal custody rights. I don’t excuse his behavior and definitely don’t think he is the perfect dad.

I do think he is selfish, and a flake, and could be better. I know he has canceled and been a no-show on scheduled visits. But he still reaches out to her and tries to see his kids. She does make it difficult for him: refusing weekend or overnight visits or purposefully saying the kids are busy on days he asks to see the kids. Now that he says he is in a serious relationship and wants his new girlfriend to meet his kids, my friend has gone ballistic. She is now forbidding him from seeing the kids in any fashion at all.

The kids (all under 10) have made comments saying that their dad is going to go to hell because he is bad. She is essentially practicing parental alienation. I tried compassionately telling her the kids should have a right to have a relationship with their father, and she dismissed this notion entirely. What are my moral obligations here?

—Alienation Nation

Re: I'd say something, knowing the friendship would be over.

  • It's a little hard for me to get on board with this when LW only knows one side and doesn't appear to have any sort of real knowledge.  It's pretty rare for a divorce decree/proceedings to not give any visitation rights to a parent and if they did, there's a reason why.  Dad has the ability to contest/go after any sort of changes he wishes to those proceedings and if he isn't...well, there's usually a reason why (and it's not always money).

    I don't really see why there is any "moral" obligation.  If you don't like it, step away from the friendship.  But this stinks of the "I don't want to pick a side" BS I went through in my divorce.  Sometimes, there is one guilty shit party and they don't need your moral support.
    charlotte989875STARMOON44CasadenaMyNameIsNot
  • "Friend, when parents do this it often backfires.   Kids grow up and find out that the reality their parent told them was not true and then it hurts.   This has to be rough, but eventually this may actually hurt you emotionally.   Also, if this continues to happen he could take you back to court and that's also going to be emotionally and actually expensive.   Is that what you really want?" 


    She may cut ties or she may start to listen.   But I also have issues being friendly with someone really vindictive.   So the follow up would be, "I've watched how you treat someone that you created 3 lives with.   If you'd do this to the father of your children what would you do to me?" 
    mrsconn23
  • Do they or do they not have a divorce in place with set custody? If they do and he doesn’t have any formal rights then she doesn’t have to encourage any visitation outside of that order. 

    I agree no one should badmouth the other parent or intentionally alienate them, and doing so is wrong. 

    LW sounds like an apologist for the Dad; saying “he misses visits and is a no show” but coming down on the Mom for not making it easier on him? Yeah, no. LW doesn’t know the full story here, or if the kids even want to see their Dad, and needs to stay out of it. 
    STARMOON44short+sassy
  • So I'm feeling there's so much being said.
    The dad doesn't wanna put effort into it and when he does she fights him?
    I mean .... Idk his side but it sounds like he only wants to see the kids when it's convenient for him. I know dudes like this and often ends up with the dad having supervised visits.

    This is only one sided, and LW should advise that maybe court moderated visits should be done. That way he can't only see them when he wants and they basically BOTH can't fight about it.
    Everyone is right, this could backfire horribly for the kids.
  • I will say if he doesn't have custody I would not insert my opinions on the visitation.   My commentary would be that she's telling her kids that their dad is going to hell.   Regardless of your opinion of the other parent you DO NOT say that to minors.    And mom needs to keep these decisions to ones as factual and truthful as possible.   If she wants to tell people that her soon to be ex is going to hell then she can say it privately to the LW over a glass of wine.    

    LW also needs to not be an apologist and does not need to fight the ex's battles.  
    charlotte989875mrsconn23short+sassy
  • I would be taken aback by a child of less than 10 telling me their dad was 'going to hell' for being 'bad'.  I think I'd bring that up at the very least.  

    Also, playing 'shell' games with custody is a recipe for getting in a heap of trouble if there are formal arrangements in place.  Yes, missing visits is bad...but being vindictive is sometimes worse in the court's eyes. 
    charlotte989875
  • mrsconn23 said:
    I would be taken aback by a child of less than 10 telling me their dad was 'going to hell' for being 'bad'.  I think I'd bring that up at the very least.  

    Also, playing 'shell' games with custody is a recipe for getting in a heap of trouble if there are formal arrangements in place.  Yes, missing visits is bad...but being vindictive is sometimes worse in the court's eyes. 
    Yup.   This is going to be a possible contempt of court situation.   
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    She says they "have been divorcing". I read that as either they are in the middle of divorce proceedings or they are going to file for divorce soon. If that's the case, custody is part of that process. Both of their bad behavior in relation to visitations is going to come out, and likely the bit about dad going to hell. That kind of thing is a big deal to a small child; they're likely to ask their dad about it. 

    A pending divorce plus LW already having been unsuccessful in warning her friend would be enough for me to stay out of it, and distance myself from this friend. It does sound like the mom is trying to alienate the kids from their dad, but not much LW can do about it. 
  • It sounds like you've already expressed concerns to your friend about how she is alienating her children from their father. Yes, she is wrong to be doing that, but  I don't get why you think you have some "moral obligation" to deal with this. If you want to talk to her again about the things her kids have been saying, then fine, but don't keep going back to her about it if she isn't receptive.  While I agree that she shouldn't be acting as vindictively as she is, her ex-husband also sounds like a jerk who doesn't deserve your advocating for him. You can't fix this, so stop trying and step back from the friendship if you're that uncomfortable.
    image
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