Sean, I love your blog and find your insight wonderful, which is why I am hoping you can lend me some advice as well.
I have been dating a guy for about 4.5 months and things were going great. He’s a single father though, and a poor one at that. That’s the part that gets to me. He was with this woman and had a child with her, then he split. He literally moved half way around the world to avoid child support, then when his parents convinced him to move back home (he couldn’t convince himself?), he did, but he is really bad about spending time with his son and paying child support. I don’t want to sound like a nagging girlfriend, but I keep trying to convince him to step up and be a father, but he keeps making excuses, then he gets mad. I am finding myself drifting away from caring about him because I just don’t want the same thing to happen to me, should things ever get that far.
Thanks for writing, and thank you for working hard to try to get a “deadbeat dad” to take care of their child, though there ideally shouldn’t be any “convincing” that needs to happen when it comes to taking care of a child. I think you’ve done all you can here, and it may be time to leave the relationship if this is causing you excess stress. It’s time your boyfriend learns the consequences of being irresponsible.
I don’t want to compare a child to a pet, but I think you’ll see where I am going with this… I could get a dog tomorrow and just lock it up on a chain outside. I could put out the occasional bowl of food, leave a hose running for some water, and even dig out a hole under the deck so the dog has a place to hide during a storm, but that doesn’t mean I am caring for the dog. I’m just letting it exist. Chances are that dog, if left neglected, would grow up to be a mean, socially unacceptable, and vicious dog. It’s not the dog’s fault, it’s mine. I didn’t do what I could to raise it, care for it, and teach it discipline. I just let it live.
A message to all of you dads out there: Father’s Day is coming up. Father’s Day is a day in which you can take pride in being a father and working hard to raise a child, but just “making” the child (or just “paying for it”, for that matter) doesn’t make you a father. You need to do your part in raising the child, providing for the child, caring for the child, and giving the child all of the love, attention, and discipline it deserves in life. THEN you’re a father. Until that point, you’re just another guy.