Being a an estranged dad has as many disadvantages as being an accused criminal without an attorney. Being an estranged dad sends some kind of message to others of irresponsibility, immaturity and selfishness, and that tends to wear a man down.
However, for most single men it is not just a battle with the child's mother - most of the time it is a battle with the entire community...
I myself have a three-year old son. His name is Nick and I've got a rough custody battle ahead of me. Nick's mother and I broke up a month after his first birthday. We were both nineteen years old and had lived together since the age of fifteen.
That was a couple of years ago.
The time I get to spend with my son, nowadays, is controlled by his mother. Sometimes I haven't been able to see him for weeks; during those periods she won't even allow me to speak to him on the phone. When she goes out I can not baby sit, on my days off I am not allowed to see him, when my son gets sick I'm not allowed to be with him and give him comfort.
His mother's main excuse is usually that she and Nick 'have plans'. We do have our differences, but I always plead for our paternal relationship to be focused on Nick's best interest. This, however, has never been the case. She only accuses me of being a bad father.
She claims though, she would proudly have him cultivate the same character as his father.
He needs me - his dad.
Husband and father are two different roles. They go pretty well together, yes, but are not indispensable to one another. Most people say that being a father is one of my best qualities. I feel sad that I can't guide my son in life as the father I am. I would never wish to put him through this and certainly not keep him from being with his mother.
If you live under similar circumstances, I ask you to hang in there.
Don't give up on your little ones - they will never give up on you!
It is very hard to fight society when you're stereotyped and thought of as just another one who "messed up", just another kid who is irresponsible and so forth... With time the stereotype starts to sink in and before you know it, you start to doubt yourself. Sooner or later those doubts become reality. People start judging you for what and whom they think you are instead of judging you as an individual.
I want society to understand the situation that I have to face. My age and gender are automatically disadvantageous in the court system. I have found that prejudice, unfortunate as it is, is found left and right, at home and at work - everywhere we go.
When I try to talk to an attorney about my situation, I'm usually nothing but a waste of time, to them "Just another kid, unhappy with how things are". So I just get a quick no and out the door I go.
I think my situation is similar to that of a six-year old boy I once saw at a fast food joint. While he was waiting in line to get a refill on his kid's meal drink, the cashier kept ignoring him as if he was the least of the customers. Little by little the boy got pushed to the side, where he waited until there were no more "customers". Then, at last, the cashier pointed at him and asked if he needed a refill.
A twenty-one-year old estranged father fighting for visitation rights, and a six-year old boy trying to get a refill...
I once read the following on top of a district court:
"We are all equal under god". I feel disgusted when those words are up there and prejudice down here.