- Family and Parenting
An Open Letter | To Absent Fathers
My whole life, I've heard about them. Men who don't want to take responsibility for the children they helped create. Men who try to wriggle out of child support. Men who pay child support, but offer no moral or emotional support. I've never actually had to deal with such a man, however.
Thankfully, I still don't - at least, not in the most immediate sense, of me being the luckless mother. No, my brother is now an absent father. I have to say, I'm shocked and disappointed - our mother did not raise us this way.
"No, my brother is now an absent father. I have to say, I'm shocked and disappointed - our mother did not raise us this way."
This makes me curious. What makes a man think that such a course of action is okay, or even acceptable? Is it society? Nature? Nurture? Is it inherent immaturity?
I have a few friends, much younger than my brother, who have had accidental children. They are not in monetarily stable positions in their lives, yet they still do the best they can to support their children emotionally and fiscally. Interestingly, these friends usually do not get along with the mother at all - but they put that aside as best they can for the sake of the child.
I have a husband, too, who was surprised and dismayed when I had an unplanned conception 3 months into our marriage. He could have left me way back then, when he was 20, earning enough to support only two people, and entirely not ready for the upheaval of a child - nor pleased, in any sense of the word. Yet my husband stayed with me, supported me, and accepted his responsibility. He now enjoys a full and loving relationship with our son.
So how is it that my immature, unemployed, and uneducated friends will step up to take care of their children as best they can, but so many men who are supposedly mature, definitely educated, and have job security - won't?
I don't care if you met some girl in a bar and knocked her up. I don't care if the relationship with the woman didn't work out. I don't care if she has questionable intimate sleeping habits, or if you're "not sure" if the child is yours. Get a paternity test.
I don't care if you don't like her as a person, or if she's just such a witch that you don't want to be around her. You are an adult, you deal with horrid people every day. The difference is, you slept with this one, got her pregnant, and created a life.
I don't think less of you because you were shocked when you found out - hey, that would be a big shock. I can understand a little initial resistance to the news. No, I think less of you because you because you are now punishing a child for your immaturity. I think less of you because you don't want to even try to help someone who is of your blood simply because you don't like his mother and you don't think you're "ready".
Maybe those of us who care about you, your family and friends, have no right to get involved with your relationship with the mother, but why should we punish the child? Why do you want us to pretend as though nothing has happened? And how much responsibility lies with those who know about this father's inaction? Should we be offering moral and emotional support, despite his denial of the situation, or would that be enabling him? Is it all right to offer that support to the mother and child, if he won't step up?
I say yes, it is okay to offer moral support to the mother. I also contend that showing understanding and acceptance of such a father is enabling not just him, but every absent parent who opts to ignore that which they've wrought. It is a societal disease that we must do our best to cure.
I have been told things like; "This isn't life or death, it's just a kid." I'm actually speechless at such a statement. Raising a child may not easy, but it's so worth it. You can help shape that child's view of the world, and how they interact with people. You can be the difference between teaching them wisdom or fear; kindness or cruelty.
This is about life, and about you, irresponsible father that you are, ignoring it
Would you have preferred that this was about life and death? Would you be okay if that mother had an abortion all those months ago, and you happened to run into her, find out, and add up the timing and realize: "Hey, she killed what was probably my child."?
What if she'd given him up for adoption? This is not a cure-all solution - that child may still seek you out, looking for medical records, closure, even a relationship. All you are doing is delaying the issue.
Would you have prefer she didn't tell you, and in 18 years, that child showed up on your doorstep and said, "Hey, I'm your kid. Where were you?"
Or do you prefer it this way - that in 18 years, that child will show up on your doorstep and still be able to say, "Hey, I'm yours. Where were you?"
Is it a fear of responsibility? What, you weren't ready to be a parent, so you won't? Guess what, she probably wasn't, either. Regardless of whether she was or not, that child came about because of both your actions. If you are having sex, you should be prepared to deal with the consequences. And no, that doesn't just mean using birth control -- it means being able to deal in a mature manner with what may occur if and when that birth control fails.
News flash, people: birth control is not foolproof. The only way to guarantee you won't have to deal with children is to NOT HAVE SEX. Even then, I've heard an interesting story about some lady a couple centuries ago who managed to have a baby anyway. Hey, guess what? Her man took care of her.
Honestly, your actions disgust me. Not only will you not support those who you wronged, but you try to hide from your family exactly how awful you've been acting. You discourage us from contacting her or helping her out with even such a simple thing as moral support for reasons that escape me. Are you really that selfish? I don't care about your opinion of this woman you found good enough to sleep with, but otherwise unimportant. I don't care about any disagreements you may have with her.
I care about that child, and how you are treating an innocent life that has no concept of the situation, and doesn't deserve your punishment.
You have shown yourself to be the type of person I try not to associate with; the type of person few people respect or care for. I can only hope that such immature men will grow a pair and truly act like a man, I suppose.
So, it's several years later. At this point, the situation has settled -- the mother in question is doing well for herself, is in a happy relationship, and has a beautiful child. My brother (the father in question) is also doing well for himself, is continuing to enjoy a variety of girlfriends, and has no contact with the child. He does, however, pay child support and insurance. So while he and the child do not have an emotional relationship, he does provide financial support.
I've gotten a lot of comments and different views on this blog. I'm aware there are a lot of different views on the right/ wrong of abortion and single motherhood. I'm also aware there are a lot of people who resent the fact that women can choose whether or not to carry the child, and therefore "ruin" the life of a guy.
Look, for that very small minority of people who genuinely believe that women get pregnant for "easy" money from their baby-dada, I'd just like to point out that pregnancy, childbirth, and parenthood are pretty much the least efficient get rich quick routes in the world. There are many, many factors that play into a woman choosing to keep (or abort) a baby, and let's face it -- financial concerns usually come down firmly in the "not-keep" column. Having and raising a child is expensive.
For those who have suffered the loss of a partner, parent, or child -- my heart aches for your loss, and there is a brighter future in store for you. I believe in the resilience of the human spirit and in strength of self, and I believe that most people can overcome whatever life throws in their direction.
For those who insist it is not fair that women get to have say over their own bodies, and that men have no say -- I'm sorry, I have a hard time taking you seriously. Sex is a choice (generally speaking). If you have sex with a woman, use a condom. If you have regular sex and know you don't want children, get a vasectomy. If you don't like condoms or vasectomies, look into a clinical trial. Your participation can make male birth control a wide-spread reality. Be the change you want to see in the world.
Finally, I'm shutting down the comments. This hub seems to go through cycles of popularity. I'll forget it exists for months, and then I'll be getting several comments a week. That's fine, but seriously. So many of the commentators don't seem to actually bother reading this, and I've had to delete more than a few needlessly insulting comments that in no way added toconversation. Recently some people who really, really seem to hate the idea of single moms not choosing to abort have been commenting, and the comments are starting to trend toward slut-shaming, sex-shaming, anti-woman language that I'm not comfortable with.