Home > Kids > Children's General Health > Mental Health > Visits with Bipolar Dad

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Visits with Bipolar Dad

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: I have 14-year-old twin girls who visit my ex-husband regularly. I recently learned that he suffers from bipolar disorder and that he's physically abused his second wife. Also, he has a history of driving recklessly, even when the children are in his care. I'm not allowing unsupervised visitation because of these things.

I don't want to talk badly about their father, but I'm extremely worried about my daughters' well-being. How do I explain this to them?

A: Pursue this path only if you're sure that your motives for stopping unsupervised visits are based solely on fears for your daughters' safety. If you haven't witnessed your ex-husband's physical violence or received medical confirmation that he's been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, don't use these points to prove he's a safety risk. If he's shown himself to be an unsafe driver when caring for your kids, then he shouldn't be allowed to drive with them until he's demonstrated that this dangerous behavior is completely under control.

Your daughters aren't little kids. Find out if they want to continue visiting with their dad or if they're scared to do so. Consider whether or not his abuse of his current wife would influence his behavior with your children and whether or not your girls have ever witnessed this abuse. Also, if he receives treatment for any mental disorder he may have, should he be denied unsupervised visits? I'd like you to inform your decisions by considering these issues, not the least of which are your daughters' opinions and desires.

More on: Expert Advice

Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


8 Epic Emoji-Themed Crafts, Activities & Recipes
Check out the best emoji crafts, activities, and recipes! They're perfect for an emoji-themed birthday party or anytime you need DIY (and screen-free!) summer activities for kids, tweens, and teens.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme!

10 Free Summer Learning Worksheets
Print these free printables for preschoolers and kindergarteners to help your child's mind stay sharp until September!

Ready for Kindergarten?
Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks