My son’s in his early-20's. His father and I dated for about a year. We never lived together or married. The pregnancy was unplanned; his father blamed me for "trying to trap him."
Initially, his father expressed interest in seeing him sometimes, but there were four or five periods of time when he disappeared for months or years.
I’d track him down, asking him to have a relationship with our son, and contribute financially to his support.
Eventually, there was a five-year period when he paid his court-ordered child support. That’s when his father saw him regularly and our son visited with his father's extended family. That lasted until my son was aged 15 or 16.
His father suddenly "disappeared" again, for the past eight years – there’s been no contact at all - no phone calls, letters, emails, birthday presents, Christmas cards, nor any contact from his father's family.
We’ve confirmed that his father’s alive and well and living in the same city. It’s clear that this disappearance was on purpose, since our phone number has never changed.
This has hurt my son terribly. I’m not sure he can ever recover. He’d never agree to counselling and it wouldn't change the fact that his father and his family abandoned him.
Part of me wants to contact them to say how cold-hearted, hurtful, and selfish their actions have been. But what’s the use since they’re obviously so selfish and self-absorbed.
I’m sure they’d make all kinds of excuses and blame others (including me and my son) for their behaviour.
I’ve talked to my son about calling his father, trying to build a relationship and move past the "disappearance.”
But he feels that his father should be contacting him. He also fears that possibly getting "put off" could trigger more feelings of abandonment.
Is there any action or solution I’ve overlooked? Please remind your readers who are parents and extended family members, including grandparents, aunts/uncles, etc. to think twice about disappearing from a child's life - it causes irreparable harm.
I’m hoping that many readers will respond with their own stories – especially how those who did reconnect with “disappeared” parents and other family did so, and how it affected them.
I also hope that some, like this father who ended contact, will have the courage to explain why they decided to end contact with their own child. And how that choice has affected them.
(Note: All reader’s submissions to this column are published anonymously).
My own comment on this sad tale is to urge you to support your son as you’ve always done, but do not discount the idea of his ever seeking counselling.
He’s at the age of starting meaningful relationships himself, and you must want him to have a healthy, confident approach to love, sex, respect, loyalty, and emotional connection – all of which are part of good, lasting relationships.
Though your own example as a parent has been positive, that of his father became beyond negative and irresponsible when he yanked away all signs and sense of caring that he’d shown so briefly.
Your son will need to come to terms with this and the hurt he’s experienced from it, in order to bring self-esteem and unconditional love to his own future partner and children.
Encourage him to talk to a professional counsellor when he’s ready.
Do not contact his father or family for him. That’s now his choice, to do or not.
Most of my friends are dating seriously or engaged. I’m single due to wanting to get my life on track first.
It’s also due to seeing friends’ relationships move quickly. I don't feel the rush to meet someone.
These friends aren’t financially stable with good employment. Yet they travel and spend money with their loved ones.
But when I ask to do things together, they have no money for, say, a winter vacation.. How can I nicely approach them about our friendship?
No Travel Friends
It’s not about money. It’s about the relationship’s importance in their lives.
They might also be picking up judgmental vibes from you about differing priorities.
The choice you’ve made to stay single until financially secure is fine, but so is theirs to enjoy romance when it occurs.
For now, consider travelling on group tours or even singly, where you may meet more people with a similar outlook to your own.
Tip of the day:
Counselling is crucial to helping someone handle the hurt and self-esteem blow of having been abandoned by a parent.