Anita recently sent us this e-mail:
I’m a single mother, and by chance I ran upon your web site. The information scared me—not for myself, but for my 2-year-old son. His father left when he was born, and he’s had no contact with him at all. I feel this is for the best because his father doesn’t care and has no desire to spend time with him. He is very irresponsible and I’m personally happy he is out of our lives. We are surviving. I want my son to be happy and healthy, and I would love nothing more than to meet a good man to be a father to my son. But until that special person comes along, it’s just the two of us.
Thanks, Anita, for your openness. It’s great that you’re motivated to act on your child’s behalf, and your letter gives me a chance to talk to all single mothers out there. And I think there’s a lesson here for all fathers as well.
I encourage you to get your children—especially your sons—involved with responsible men who are positive role models – even if there’s no possibility of a romantic relationship between you and the man.
If your child’s absent father was a destructive and negative influence, I completely understand why you don’t want him around. Your reasons are probably valid; he has no good excuses for deserting you and your children. But let me give you something to think about.
Someday he very well may come to his senses—even if it’s ten or twenty years from now. He will probably want to be part of his children’s lives at some point. I’m sure there’s a lot of bitterness on your part, and your children will have lots of questions, too. But your children want and need to know who their father is and, if at all possible, have a good relationship with him. Simply, kids need their dads.
Now, please hear me: I’m not saying this because I feel some sense of male solidarity with your child’s father. This isn’t a battle of the sexes; it’s a battle to do what’s best for your child.
We’ve seen that, even in extreme situations, children almost always have a soft spot and a hope deep in their hearts for their fathers. In my opinion, it’s best if you can separate your own feelings and, assuming the father does clean up his act, encourage that relationship.
I know these are not black-and-white situations. If he comes back and wants to see his children, you have every right to be suspicious, and should proceed very cautiously.
But keep in mind that a man’s priorities change as he matures. He may not deserve to see his children, and having him in the picture may complicate your life to a great degree. I know—it isn’t fair. But please have an open mind that he can become a good father. Your children do need him.