Dear Viv: Should my unreliable ex have contact with our kids?

On this week's podcast, Viv discusses whether your children should have contact with their unpredictable father

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By Viv Groskop on

Dear Viv,

I’m a big fan of the show and of your no-nonsense advice, which always seems so workable. Many agony aunts require their readers to be their best selves. Something I find hard to achieve!

The problem I need help on is this: my daughters’ father left 6 years ago and moved to another country. Over the years he’s maintained sporadic contact over Skype. He promised to come and visit them but that never materialised. He would prefer that I bring the girls to visit him, but he lives on the other side of the world in a country that is not signed up to The Hague Convention for the return of children. I don’t think he would try to keep the children, but this has to be a consideration.

After zero contact for about two years following a disagreement between us over me not taking the children to visit him, he got in touch asking if the girls would like to Skype him. The youngest agreed but didn’t seem bothered either way. The eldest, who is 11, said she didn’t want to and was visibly upset by the mere mention of it. She is very sad about his absence and doesn’t trust him after all the let downs. She won’t discuss this with me at all and completely shuts down if I try to bring it up. I don’t think she’s doing this to spite him. I believe she couldn’t talk to him without breaking into tears.

My question is this: is no contact better than unpredictable contact? Should I encourage my daughter to have contact with her father despite her obvious sadness at the thought of it. Bearing in mind that I went back to her dad and told him that the youngest said yes and the oldest said no and I haven’t heard from him since (this was two months ago).

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. My daughter is an otherwise happy and well-adjusted girl who does well at school and has lots of friends. Does she really need an unreliable Skype dad?

I want to do the best for my children but sometimes I just don’t know what that is!

From Mum in a quandary

Got a question for Viv? Email her at The Dear Viv podcast airs weekly on The Pool at 5pm on Tuesdays. All letters will be edited for length. Unfortunately Viv cannot reply to your emails personally. 

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