September 21, 2006

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Pinings: Baby daddy
by Sherry Hughes sah103@hotmail.com

Dear Pinings,
My son is 4 and lives with me full time. His father has been around for his whole life, but he is never very consistent. We never married. Now his dad is moving across the country and doesnít know how he will see his son. He is taking a job but doesnít have a place to live yet.

Iím really mad that he is leaving our son and has no plans to see him anytime soon. He says that I need to trust him; that heís not just going to abandon Jarred (our son) but I donít know if I can. Also, what about child support? Heís been really sporadic about that, too.

I donít want to be a screaming bitch about this but what am I going to tell my son? And when do I ever get a break? I never felt like I could just pick up and leave ó because I wanted my son to always be close to his father.
Anna

Dear Anna,
Iím sorry you are in the midst of this struggle. Parenting is hard enough when two people live together; itís very challenging when the parents separate or when there is conflict.

Since you are clearly the more responsible parent, you are going to have to put this in the most positive light you can for your sonís sake. I donít think you should lie, but I donít think you should give him the impression that his father is abandoning him either. At 4, he wonít understand that. At 14 he wonít either. Get your ex involved in the conversation if you can. Let him know that itís his responsibility to talk to his son. Tell him that the very least he can do is to explain to Jarred whatís happening.

And itís time for you to go to court and secure child support. It is your sonís fatherís job to support his child. Unless you are in a position to take care of him without any help, financially, from your ex, and donít want any, you owe it to your son. This isnít about being vindictive or pissy. Itís about taking care of him. You never know what the future holds. Maybe your ex will prosper in his new environs and send you checks regularly. But maybe he wonít. And you may fall on hard times, too.

And if I were you, Iíd be sure you have a legal document in place that states that primary custody for Jarred is with you. You want to be sure that your ex canít fly your son out to see him and then end up in some legal wrangling about when he will return.
Good luck.

Sherry Hughes welcomes letters from readers at sah103@hotmail.com


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