What Makes an Unfit Parent?

Posted: January 19, 2011 in Custody Advice
Tags: , , ,

Anyone who has read my blog knows that I now agree that my step-kids’ biological mother is an unfit parent. What made me come to this realization? On what facts am I basing this logic?

There is a lot of debate as to what makes a parent an unfit parent and, obviously, this woman does not think of herself as unfit. However, after much debate and research, I have found that she is indeed unfit. For those out there who are wondering if they may be dealing with ex-spouse’s who are unfit parents, I can provide you with some general guidance.

Whether or not your ex-spouse is an unfit parent actually depends on what state you live in and what behaviors your ex-spouse is displaying. Some states are more forgiving than others. It sucks, but it’s a fact. With that being said, a mother or father is usually legally defined as an unfit parent if they have been abusive, neglectful or have failed to provide proper care for their children.

Surprisingly, a parent with a mental disturbance or an addiction to drugs or alcohol may be considered unfit by the state. This means your kids can be taken from you if you have an alcohol or drug addiction. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that being treated for a mental condition doesn’t make you unfit, but if you do things like drink alcohol while you are taking medications for a mental disturbance, that action does make you unfit — which is exactly what my husband’s ex-wife does.

A parent is also an unfit parent if they fail to provide proper parental care and protection (like leaving your kids home alone till three in the morning because your friend got so drunk that they needed to go to the ER and you decided to stay at the hospital with that friend rather than going home and taking care of your kids). You can spend all day every day at home with your kids, but if your face is glued to your computer and you don’t provide your children with the attention and care they need you are still neglecting them.

As a mother, I can say that most parents do everything they can for their children. There are, however, unfit parents out there who do not deserve to be around the wonderful children they have created. If an unfit parent wants help, that’s one thing. When they flat-out refuse to acknowledge their issues and do not care how their actions affect their children, it’s something else entirely.

Again, I’m not a lawyer, but this is the information I’ve gotten through my recent experiences. If you are dealing with a spouse who is an unfit parent and you wonder if taking the kids from this person is the right thing to do, please reflect on these facts…

I was worried about taking the kids from my husband’s ex at one time, thinking it would not be in their best interests. After talking to lawyers, social workers, psychiatrists and other professionals, I have discovered that leaving them in her care would have done much more harm than good. When children are exposed to certain behaviors, it affects their emotional development and behaviors. My step-son is now suffering from the things his mother has done and my step-daughter is showing symptoms of depression. Do not let your children suffer because of an unfit parent’s actions. While an ugly custody battle may do some short-term damage, the long-term damage of being exposed to unfit behaviors would be much, much worse.

  1. Rachel says:


    I would like to make some points and know what you think about this situation.

    I just moved in with a man who I was very much in love with.

    His ex wife loves her kids and so does he but I have found that he is using some things to his advantage.

    He moved down to Fl to be near his kids after his wife of ten years left him overnight.

    She said she was going to care for her father but she really meant to stay here.

    He followed her, sure of himself and to this day has no worries about matters of court.

    She has 4 children with three different fathers and from what he said there is no way any judge would listen to her or take her seriously, thus she gets custody but the agreement is that she will share them part time.

    Well, they are here most of the time because their mom works and goes out with boyfriends and tries to re-live her youth and she finds her ex husband a free, convenient babysitter so they end up getting dropped off here a lot.

    They will oftentimes come home from her place without having brushed their teeth for days, and eaten nothing but twinkies, soda and donuts for LUNCH, BREAKFAST AND DINNER.

    To make matters worse, there is constant swearing, porn and fighting at their mothers house and she lives with her brother who’s stepdaughter accused him of molesting her and her mom, the kids grandmother hits her.

    Their mother does, however, bathe them which is good but there are many concerns that go unnoticed.

    For instance, both of the children have poor manners and not once have I seen them without a fourth inch of dirt caked under their fingernails as though she cannot even take the time to clean them. The 8 year old son often uses the f word and talks casually about The Family Guy, saying he sees it and South Park regularly…the funny part about all this is that at least there they have a place to run around and play, are taken out to disneyland 3 times a week minimum and tend to get loads of attention.

    That is her side.

    Now the father.

    Well, he has a lot of money but insists on living in a shack and feeding them Great Value fruitloops and white pasta for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    Usually breakfast is skipped because he is sleeping in and the kids go hungry. I have taken on the task of feeding and sometimes bathing and administering vitamins to them.

    He has been here for over 2 years, now in this same condition, cockroaches everywhere, rat feces in the kitchen drawers and under the sink, the place filthy-ever inch and black dirt on the windows and windowsills, urine on the bathroom floor.

    I have cleaned and cooked almost nonstop since living here. It makes him angry because he thinks I am trying to send a message.

    He drinks about 10 beers a night and demands his kid get him a new one every 15 minutes while he sits at his computer day and night.

    He plays with them on occasion and I can tell he likes it and cares for them but what confuses me is why he allows them to go days without showering or brushing their teeth if he loves them.

    I told him calmly a few weeks ago that they are underfed, have no room to get excersize, play, rarely bathe and almost never brush their teeth and that I believed him and his ex to be irresponsible.

    He became enraged. Almost every day he growls “what the fuck are you standing there, for?”

    “Get the fuck in the car” and his kids just worship him, anyways even though he talks to them that way.

    He does no drugs that I know of and does not abuse them so it’s hard to say but I think this situation is pathetic.

    I swore I would never put him in a position to lose them after he had a meltdown, threatened to send the kids to his parents to “hide” them and accused me of plotting against him.

    They love him dearly, and their mom and older brothers. But I think these people need to grow up and stop being so selfish.

    I am moving out, asap and last night he tells him to clean themselves and brush their teeth and tries to cook lame meals and makes a big, obvious drama about it so I could see it happening.

    I am beginning to wonder if this is for him and to level things out with his ex more than his need to be a real parent.

    There is a lot of bitterness there.

  2. Rachel says:

    also, he has become increasing more violent-not hitting me or anything but he throws tv’s, breaks things, trashes the house, recently called me a cunt, screaming and yelling in front of his kids because my ex fiance called and he is convinced he is my “boyfriend”. Is very possessive. Yesterday he shoved me into the bedroom and tries to bully me with his size.

    He considers himself to be so spiritual, talks about ascension and says that he hopes I will come with him and not be left behind. Very controlling, insecure, irascible, volatile, psychosomatic, mean.

    This sounds pretty textbook psycho to me.

    • princessjd says:

      I feel for you. I really do. On one hand, I am very glad that you are getting yourself out of that situation. Anyone with money should live in a decent house and should not live in those conditions. He obviously has some serious mental issues and needs help. It could be BPD. Maybe not. I know BPD people are notorious for playing the “don’t leave me I’m really trying hard now” game once you decide to walk out the door.

      If you do leave, when you do leave, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE get Social Services involved. Right now, you are probably the only sane and stable person in those kids’ lives. Once your gone, they have nothing and no one to protect them. I don’t care what kind of horror stories you hear about the Foster Care program. The homes are closely monitored and those kids would be in a better environment than they are right now.

      Social Services might not necessarily take the children, but they will make the parents get the help that they so obviously need. Either way, the parents will have to get help and the children will be safe. That is what is important here.

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