So now its my turn…
My story doesn’t really involve mental health as such, more relating to other topics which the Men’s Mental Health Gamers (MMHG) focus on, parenting.
The first thing I need to acknowledge is that the mother of my child is a good parent and I’m not going to speak negatively for her. Yes, she’s made mistakes (like we all do from time to time), my daughter is loved and cared for to an amazing standard which provides me with peace of mind as I only see my daughter every other weekend.
Those mistakes however do consist of contact denial. My daughter, who was less than a year old at that time, and I did not see each other for three months despite numerous attempts of me trying. There we’re no safeguarding concerns which would prevent my daughter staying with me, simply a fact of the mother not wanting our daughter to stay with me.
The effects of not being allowed to see your child can be extremely damaging on ones mental health, luckily I had the support through a fantastic network of friends and family who enabled be to take my case through the UK’s family court system and now safeguard a loving and meaningful relationship between my daughter and me. My daughter now stays with me every other weekend, some school holidays and half of Christmas.
What I would like to briefly discuss is the issues which I’ve encountered since becoming a father.
- My daughter required a hip operation during her infant years. I had to rely on mum disseminating information to me as the NHS decline my requests to add me to the mailing list regarding important consultations and appointments due to being unable to have two addresses to post information to. According to the UK’s Office of National Statistics (ONS) 4.3 million children who do not live with their father in the UK. I find it hard to believe that the NHS is not keeping up with societal trends and omitting fathers who don’t live their children from important information about their children.
- The Child Maintance Service (CMS). The CMS calculate how much a non-resident parent should pay towards the upbringing of their child in several ways. One being how much you earn, which is fair. However, another being how many nights your child stays with you. As my daughter was not allowed to stay with me, the amounts which I had to pay increased. Within hours of the first case of stopping contact the CMS were phoning me demanding a reassessment of how much I should be paying, even though it was not my daughter’s choice or mine that she was not staying with me. After the court hearing, this amount took almost 5 months to lower to the correct rate.
- Inoculations. I was asked if I could take my daughter to my local GP surgery for her inoculations my the mum. I did, however the surgery refused to administer as I had no proof that I was her father on me. I fail to understand why the other female patients (who happened to be either a grandmother, sister and auntie) who were also waiting with a child were also not asked to provide proof of parental responsibility.
So why am I treated and labelled like a ‘deadbeat dad’ as I do not have the privilege of living with my daughter? That’s the question I would like to ask people in authority, like MPs and the senior management of our health services.
In addition, I would like to share my story to demonstrate that there is no sense of privilege in being male. We are sometimes discriminated against too! While other demographics seek equality and representation (and rightly so), being a man and a dad is also tough at times.
Thanks for reading.