- Family and Parenting
The Impact of Absent Fathers
Here in the Uk there are 130,000 absent fathers, I wanted to address the impact my own children's fathers have on them in their day to day life and how it affects my own life being the one left to pick up the pieces.
I'll start off my telling you about my son Liam's father, He falls into the category of yo-yo dad. When I fell pregnant with Liam, his father told me he didn't want the baby, I didn't want to terminate because it felt wrong to me so I decided to keep the baby and raise him alone if need be. Liam's father chose to stick around and be in liams life. I told him straight at the beginning, if we wasn't going to be a consistent figure in our son's life then he should leave there and then because I didn't want him walking in and out of my sons life. He agreed that he would not leave and he would see him regularly. So after Liam was born his dad came to see him everyday, I thought ok, this isn't so bad, at least he wants to see him. As the weeks past by his dad gradually saw less and less of him, he never took him out anywhere it was always at my home and only for short periods. I thought okay, maybe he is worries because he is so small, so I didn't say anything, hoping that as Liam got older, his dad would take him out places and maybe even have him over night sometimes. This never happened, he wouldn't show up to see him for weeks on end, he wouldn't answer the phone to me or reply to text messages I sent him.
After a year, I stared to get fed up with the constant coming then not coming so I asked him to tell me how often he would like to see his son. His reply was, ''I'll have him over night once a month!'' I wasn't happy with that as you can imagine but I went along with it anyway. My reasoning was that at least Liam would spend sometime with his dad opposed to none at all. So he had him over night once, he brought him back to me at 6am and that was the last time he ever stayed there. I started to feel really angry towards his father for keep letting Liam down, I understood that he didn't want Liam at first but I had given him the option to walk away, he had chosen not to. I thought I had been more than fair in letting him come and go as he pleased. Nothing I said to him made any difference, he still only came and went when he wanted, completely disregarding the fact that Liam didn't even know him. I received no help from him financially either but I didn't mind I had survived this long without help I didn't need it now. Accept one day I was really stuck, I had run out of nappies because Liam had suffered with a bad stomach, I was completely poor and couldn't afford any, so I asked his dad to please bring me some round. He did so, Liam was two at the time and was very happy to see his dad, as it was the day for his dad to see him, he was ready to go out with him. His dad showed up with the nappies and when Liam asked can we go, His dad told him, 'daddy has to go somewhere really quick, I will come back and get you soon,'' he didn't come back, Liam sat with his coat and shoes on by the window all day waiting for his daddy to come back for him. When I tried to take his shoes off he shouted at me, 'NO MUMMY!'' It broke my heart to see him sat there waiting for him, I was livid! Why did he tell him he was coming back when he knew full well he wasn't? I bet he didn't think twice about how his actions affected him! For the first time I sent his dad a message, His reply to me was something like this, 'I do want I want, when I want, the sooner you get used to it the better!'' How dare he say that to me, it wasn't me that cared if he came it was his two year old heart broken son that cared. Did he have to get used to it too? I didn't think so, I told him to leave us alone and stopped him from having contact with Liam because I felt that it was the best thing for Liam rather than have this part time stranger coming and going. A year later Liam wanted to see him, so I contacted his dad again, he started coming round to pick Liam up on Sundays, this lasted for a short time until his usual tricks resurfaced, showing up, not showing up. I sent him a message once when Liam was three he replied by telling me 'well you should of had an abortion then shouldn't you!'' How could anyone still wish their child dead when they have been here for three years and they supposedly love him? So you guessed it I told him no more contact. Liam's behaviour had really stared to go down hill since his dad had stared messing him about and he was emotional all of the time. Liam didn't see his dad again for another two years, it was Christmas day and his dad knocked on the door, gave his a few presents then left. Of course all my gifts went entirely out of the window and meant nothing to Liam because daddy came and brought him all these expensive gifts, never mind the whole year I had spent scrimping and saving to afford the gifts I struggled to buy him. Don't get me wrong though, I was pleased for Liam, I was happy his dad had bothered to buy him something for Christmas but at the same time it angered me at he got to show up and play Santa after all that time, then leave again without spending even five minutes with his son on Christmas day. I could understand it if his dad and myself didn't get on, but I had been nothing but polite to him over the years even after everything he had done to my child, the least he could of done was watch him open them, I would of left them alone if that's what he wanted.
Over the years Liam has learned for himself what his father is really like, he's been angry with me about it, taking out his frustration on me, he has hit me, told me he hates me and many other things but the whole time I have never said anything bad about his dad, I figure that he will make up his own mind one day and I will always be there to show my support regardless.
Liam has suffered at school due to his dad's absence, the school got the children to make their dad's a fathers day card, of course Liam couldn't give his dad his one. Liam isn't into football like the other boys because he doesn't have a male role model to play sports with him and I am useless at sports so Liam gets left out at play time when all the boys are playing football, he goes and sits in his classroom alone, this breaks my heart, I have tried to encourage him to join in, I have bought him a football and goalie gloves but its no use. I cant afford to send him to football practice and even if I could, he's not interested. He went through a stage at about five years old where he would make up stories about the things he has done with his dad, he would often remark, 'my daddies got that'' or 'me and my daddy went there,'' of course I knew it wasn't true, but it shows how badly this little boy wanted his dad and hope much he wished he could talk about true things he had done with him.
My second child Lennon's father is totally absent, Lennon has no idea who his father is and has only seen photographs of him, he doesn't seem to miss him much right now but he is only four years old. Occasionally he will also make up stories about when he was at his dads house or he will come home school and talk about his dad, I think it's mostly because the other children must be talking about their fathers and he is mimicking them. I have approached Lennon's dad on many occasions asking him if he wants to see him. He never does, I have learned to accept that I cannot make him want to be in Lennon's life and all I can do is try and fill in his dad's role as best I can by being both mum and dad to him.
There are so many difficulties I face being a single mother to boys, like if they have issues with their boy parts, I don't know what to do, and have had to resort to calling my brother to ask him questions. Or when they were potty training, I could not show them how to pee standing up, as they get older I can't answer all the questions they might have as I am not a man and I am somewhat lacking in knowledge when it comes down to manly areas, but alas I will endeavour to do the best I can, that's all I can do.
I end this article with these words to any absent fathers, please think carefully about how your actions affect your child, just because you cannot see them doesn't mean that their are not somewhere missing out on lots of things. Its never too late to make a change, and no matter how difficult things are between yourself and your childs mother please don't allow it to come between you and the child that is a part of you. I know first hand that children of all ages are impacted massively by your absence, please do not wait for your child to find you when they are older because by then the damage is done, you cannot repair it then but you have a chance to now. I wish you all the best in being great dad's to your children, even if the mother makes it hard for you, if you show her you're not messing around she will eventually trust you again because no mother wants to feel the hurt that her babies feel by you not being there.