A mom writes in asking for advice after a disturbing incident. She shares custody of her son with an ex, who recently admitted himself into the hospital after experiencing severe suicidal thoughts and who may, in general, suffer from mental health issues. Later, this mom went to her ex’s house, which was in extreme disarray.
She also learned that her son is unhappy and uncomfortable when he is at his father’s and also that the lines of communication between father and son are not always clear or open. She doesn’t want to keep her son from his dad, but she realizes there are safety issues at play. What should she do?
A member of the community asks:
“An incident happened with my son was with his father: How should I move forward?
The Friday before Thanksgiving, my son’s father was supposed to pick him up for the Thanksgiving break (we are not together). Everything seemed fine except he was 2 hours late with no communication to let me know. On Sunday morning, I got a call at 5:30 am, telling me my son was with a police officer, and I needed to get him right away. I was told the dad went to the police station, leaving my ten years old alone at 3 or 4 am, and he told the police station he was having extreme suicidal thoughts and was a harm to himself/others. The dad was then transported to the hospital while an officer went to his house to sit with my son until I got there. I walked in, and the house was not in very good condition.
There were small walkways and one spot on either couch to sit with piles of junk and things thrown all over the house. The toilet was brown, cups randomly on the floor; the sink was full of crusty dishes; you could hardly see the floor in my son’s room. I realize this is a sign of depression, and I am so glad he got help. I understand this because I’ve worked in behavioral health for a long time, so I am understanding.
But my son even said he gets tired of it being that way with nowhere to play or walk and his dad had been talking about death to him… my question is, what is your opinion? I feel if dad is unstable, my son should not be alone/stay overnight with him. I do not want to keep him away from his dad and will meet him anywhere to see him or take him to his family’s house. I think dad should take time for himself to get his mind and his home in decent condition. I’ve spoken to the attorney general & I am honestly afraid for my son’s safety. He was left alone with no phone, no neighbors he knows, he was lucky the cops got there before he woke up, or he would have been so afraid.
And apparently, his dad leaves him alone a lot. He doesn’t know where he’s going & no phone to contact anyone. I’ve talked to my son about it all, and he isn’t fond of his dad anyways because he is a wishy-washy, in and out of his life type of parent, but this incident has made him very scared. I feel in my heart I know what’s right to do, but I am curious about what other people think. Am I fair? How long would you wait until you let your son go back there? Dad gets very angry very quickly & I don’t want to out him. I just want him to get his mind and home better and feel until I have proof those things are stable, that he should not be alone with him.
There are way too many tragic stories that occur due to things like this, and I don’t think I could handle it if something happened to my son. Any advice is greatly appreciated.”
Community Advice for This Mom Who Is Worried About Her Child’s Father’s Mental Health
To see what advice the Mamas Uncut Facebook community has for this mom in need, read the comments of the post embedded below.
Most advice for this mom involves her making use of official legal systems to ensure both the safety of her child and the child’s father.
One said: “If he has visitation rights I’d bring him to court and fight that visitation to be either only supervised or stopped until he gets help. Maybe the Court will order him to go to a psychiatric hospital. I don’t mean to do it to hurt the father; that’s just what I would do because he obviously isn’t mentally stable enough to take your kid at the moment. If that isn’t the route you wanna go then just try to help him out, clean up his house, be there for him if he needs to talk. It sounds like he wants help. Good luck to you I hope everything works out.”
Several commenters suggested getting the courts to order that the father can only have supervised visits while his mental health struggles continue.
“Talk to the court see about supervised visits at the visitation center. That’s your best bet. They have officers there who watch, plus they record, so if he pulls anything your son is well-protected.”
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