10-21-2019 09:03 AM
Well, she actually did it. Despite me talking it over with her and youth worker, and explicitly telling her mother I didn't want my 16 year old getting a tattoo, her mother has taken her to NSW to get not only one tattoo, but TWO (It's illegal in Queensland). The reason why I didn't think she should get a tattoo? Well apart from it being illegal in the state and it being a permanent mark on her her body, it's because earlier this year, she took her grandmothers car from her mother's house (on a learners license) with other minors, going for a drive one night without incident, the other night smashing the vehicle into a tree, making her way home to her mother and in the morning pretending it had been stolen. To this day, neither her or her mother has told the grandmother the truth (her mother found out the truth). This, plus videoing her brother smoking weed in her mum's backyard and posting it to Instagram. So no, Dad doesn't want her getting a tattoo, let alone two.
The kid's mum is completely irresponsible. Several weeks ago, my 14 year old son messaged me while he was in the car as his mother was booked for drink driving (so he says). He said his mum found out I had been told, and then he got into "trouble" for telling me. She told him it was none of my business.
I am completely powerless as a father.
I have consent orders in place. Legal advice says because my daughter is 16, the court will weigh heavily on her age and any orders will likely be unenforceable. I've represented myself before, but would need to pay $300 an hour for a lawyer this time. I called the Police - unhelpful. They can't pursue the car matter as it needs to be pursued by the complainant. If she took my daughter to NSW to get a tattoo it's not illegal and a matter for NSW police. Called the Child Protection Unit - they need to actually catch the minor in the car, or catch them being tattooed illegally - they're not in the business of prevention. I've been given Child Safety's contact. Again, useless. I called them earlier this year when my son was getting into drugs, hanging around criminals and becoming homeless from his mum's house. As both parents appeared to be willing to act protectively they couldn't become involved. It's not the first time I've called them - I've had 10 years of trying to protect my kids while at their mum's house. Everything from DV, to sexual harassment by a step brother, to my son attempting suicide at age 11 because of unstable housing. As the mother appears to take action after the things occur, and is good at rationalising, nothing is challenged and nothing changes. Mediation is futile - she says one thing, then does the other. The Family Court is futile, sitting down with a family court reporter for an hour doesn't capture what really goes on, and as if they're going to "dob" on their mum? Last time I went (when my daughter was 14) her mum actually gave my daughter the court report to read afterwards. So I had my daughter making comments to me about court matters and the family court report. Any further action I take will only drive my kids away because Dad will be made "the bad guy" for causing trouble. For just being a Dad with basic boundaries. She's taking my kids out of school for a cruise for a week (she took my daughter out to go to Cuba for 3 weeks last year) while my daughter is in Year 12 next year. The most important year of schooling.
So now I have a daughter whose mum as taken her to NSW to get 2 tattoos. It's irresponsible parenting and it's modelling poor values. It's teaching my daughter to disrespect me. It's a total disregard for me as a father. And all this talk about "keeping children safe" that almost every school and authority pro-port to support, is quite frankly BS. It's all talk and no action.
Yes, I have support. I work in the community sector. I've used child consultants, psychologists, youth workers, counsellors......as well as support for myself. I know every avenue of support like the back of hand. At the end of the day, you can't fix parental immaturity and irresponsibility. Sure, I've been told not to criticise the other parent and do for the most part. But when a parent blatantly colludes with the kids and undermines my parenting, what do you do? Keep quiet? Let them go get tattoos? And hide illegal activity? "Just try and keep contact with your kids" is the advice. That's not being a father. That's being a benevolent acquaintance.
I'm angry and frustrated. I've been undermined for years and it's eroding away my relationship with my kids. I don't expect anyone on this forum to offer me anything I haven't heard before. I'm just here to rant because if I don't do it here, I'll do it directly at the mother and that's not what the kids need right now. It's just an incredibly crappy situation.
10-21-2019 10:41 PM
I just wanted to check in with you to see how you were doing. Even just reading a small part of your post would illustrate just how difficult of a situation you are currently in. It completely makes sense that you are frustrated with your situation - I think it would be incredibly difficult for any parent not to be anxious about their child, particularly when they are being encouraged to do things like breaking the law.
While I can't imagine how difficult it must feel to be in your current situation, I really do want to reassure you that while children - especially teens - may act out when being denied what they want, often they will be more understanding of your actions as they grow and develop. What may be the most important thing for the moment, is letting both your son and daughter know that you love and support them, and only want the best for them. Often this unconditional love and support is what people respect above all else. Letting your daughter know that you will always be there, even after she makes mistakes, will let her know that you are a safe space - even if sometimes you have to do the "uncool" responsible thing.
10-22-2019 09:21 AM
I can hear and empathize with your frustration.
The separation and later divorce I went through was not pleasant for anyone involved with us ending up in family court.
The feeling of powerlessness who professes to put the well being of children first and then does things or supports the action of others that you don't believe are in the best interest of the children is devastating.
I am going to avoid launching into my own tirade against the system but choose rather to let you know you are not alone in your frustration, anger and utter disbelief at how the system operates.
There is no winners in a situation like you find your family in. IMHO all you can do is to try and survive it and do what you can to keep your relationship with your children positive.
When you say "you can't fix parental immaturity and irresponsibility" and "I've been told not to criticize the other parent and do for the most part" that really made me think about how hard it was for me not to criticize my ex in font of my kids... I really tried so so hard but I still did it some of the time.
Looking back at it having come out the other side I talk with my children and I can see the hurt in their eyes today when we reflect on the separation and particularly how they still recall how the worst thing for them was when one parent criticized the other.
So my final words based on having survived the family court system
10-22-2019 12:05 PM
I think the question is "what does it mean to criticise?"
When I initially said no to the tattoo, my daughter texted her mum who then replied with "that's so unfair, you don't need your Dad's permission.....just show this text message to another adult/tattoo artist and I'll give permission". It was sent to my wife's sister who alerted us to it.
I told my daughter quite directly that both her and her mother's behaviour in this circumstance was disrespectful to me and extremely deceptive of her mum to say my permission was not required. I told her I was really furious about the behaviour of both of them.
For goodness sake, it would be remiss to NOT say anything at all.
And even after directly addressing it with the mum as well, they've gone and done it anyway a month later while away on school holidays. It's outright collusion and totally unacceptable. What am I going to tell my daughter......her mum's actions are fine? I didn't call her mum any names. I didn't say she was a bad mum. I didn't swear. I called the behaviour for what it was - deceptive and disrespectful towards me. I reckon I've got a right to communicate that, given the circumstances.
10-22-2019 05:17 PM
I am hearing your frustration here - I think anyone who has tried has hard as you obviously have would feel the way you are.
Both yourself and @PapaBill have shared valid ways to approaching such a complex situation. What I think we can all agree on is that the approach needed really varies from family to family, child to child. It all really depends on the situation, as each of our circumstances are unique.