It’s a father’s duty to care for their family, but it’s a sad fact that not all men are up to the task. Some fathers want nothing to do with their child, leaving their families behind to patch up the hole left in their absence.
The transition to solo parenting is difficult, especially when you’re still reeling from the situation. We can give you some guidance on what you ought to focus on to best ease this difficult process.
An absent father means less income, so focus on stabilizing your financial situation through any means available. Next comes mental wellness, which requires that you and your child have sufficient support systems in place. Be honest with your child when they ask hard questions, but make sure cut their absentee father out of any future family plans.
A father backing out not only leaves their child but their partner as well. Spare them as little thought as you can. Your priority at the moment is keeping the family afloat, starting with finances.
Common Reason Why Father Wants Nothing to Do With Child
Financial Situation (Damage Control)
Fathers tend to be seen as the breadwinners of the family. Even if they weren’t the sole providers, their absence often reduces a household’s income. Sometimes this renders current living conditions unsustainable. You need to get on top of your financial situation as soon as feasibly possible.
In difficult financial situations, the first thing you need to reduce is expenses. Try to look into what goods you could either downsize, downgrade, or simply do without altogether.
It might be better to swap to off-brand detergent rather than pricy brands, for instance. You might have to dilute your shampoo bottle with extra water when it’s still half-full. You could also start making overnight oatmeal over time-consuming cooking every morning.
The effectiveness of this strategy still depends on your income. You can’t budget your way into fiscal security with a shoestring budget – especially with children to care for!
Just because your father wants out of their kid’s life doesn’t mean they get off scot-free though. You can still hold them financially accountable with the support of the law.
In most cases, an absentee father is still capable of paying child support. Very few circumstances will exempt them from that legal obligation. If they try it anyway, they could be tossed in jail!
Child support is literally just support for the child. Don’t feel guilty about “forcing” the father to take a modicum of responsibility – a few weekly payments are a fraction of the time, effort, and opportunity cost you incur doing your job as their parent.
The policy and details will vary across different states, so always seek legal counsel on how to proceed for the area you’re in. How much your child gets from this arrangement depends on their absentee father’s income, but any amount of additional income helps when finances are tight.
Emotional Well-Being (Yours + Your Child’s)
Each family has its unique contexts, which can alter the impact of certain situations. Some families feel devastated when a father wants nothing to do with their child, while others might be overjoyed hearing the same news. The rest tend to fall somewhere in between.
They do have one thing in common: none of them leave the family unit unscathed.
A mother already has one of the hardest jobs in the world. Having to go at it alone will take more out of her – not all mothers have enough to give, and this takes a toll on their well-being.
For children, they’d end up without a positive male role model directly in their lives. If we go by assumed cultural tradition, they’d also likely end up short on a source of discipline and security.
Both parties would also very likely suffer from the rejection. Their minds mind dwell on why, which can lead to lingering doubts or even self-loathing.
Mothers have to handle this devastation while nurturing their children, leaving them little personal time to process the emotional fallout.
Children won’t understand why they weren’t wanted, and will often internalize this dejection or attempt to find faults in themselves to justify why they were refused by their father.
You aren’t a bad person for being bothered by this level of rejection. You can’t bottle things up forever – what you feel will spill over eventually. It might manifest in maladaptive methods that damage you along with the people you love. This goes for both mothers and children.
Below are a few common emotional pitfalls most people lose themselves. Mind the signs.
For a Mother
Mothers often feel that they’re responsible for everything in their children’s lives, which can lead to them taking unfortunate circumstances as a personal failing. They’d hold themselves to impossibly high standards, then burn out trying to meet them.
To reiterate, a mother’s role is to care, not to be perfect. There will be some situations you’ll never be able to prepare for, but you can always do the best you can with what you have. It won’t always feel that way, but that’s why we talk to people who can support our difficult feelings.
As for the absentee father, they left of their own volition. It’s not been, nor will it ever be your fault. You’re allowed to be upset with the situation, but don’t ever think you caused it. Focus on being the best person you can be moving forward rather than dwelling on what drags you down.
Your children won’t understand why their dad left them behind. They might look for reasons to justify that action – most of which would do a number on their self-esteem.
Help them understand that their dad leaving was not their fault. Guide them to move on with their life, but always listen to the concerns and misgivings they have to share on the topic.
Your child won’t have the people or systems you do. They might not even know what they’re going through right now. The last thing you want to do is leave them to their own thoughts.
Of course, it’s not easy discussing such a volatile topic. It’s okay if you aren’t ready or equipped to deal with the emotions you’re experiencing yourself, but don’t let your children process alone.
Validate what they’re going through. Seek professional help for them if need be.
It won’t be easy, but you need to handle it properly. You’re setting an example of not only how others should treat them, but how your children ought to treat themselves. Teach them to value themselves the same way you value them, and they’ll carry that lesson all through their lives.
Information (Honesty is Key!)
Your children deserve to know the truth about their father’s choice. It won’t be easy to digest, and they might not even be ready for it early on, but sharing the painful truth will be best for everyone.
A child’s imagination is a powerful thing – especially when objective information is scarce. They could very well idealize the absent figures in their mind, blaming everyone else for their absence.
You can’t shelter your children from a truth that affects their lives this deeply. They could very well resent you for withholding this information. You can stonewall their attempt, but you will never be able to make them stop asking. They’ll just look for other accounts to piece it together.
It would be better to take the initiative and speak about the troubling topic.
Explain that their father left, and is unlikely to ever come back. Clarify the reasons you think are behind the choice, but be delicate here. Make sure your children understand that none of this is their fault. Remind them that you love them as they are and that you’re here to stay.
There won’t ever be a good time to share these difficult details, so don’t bother waiting for the perfect opportunity – it simply won’t come. You need to be brave and make that opportunity.
Your children rely on you, so don’t let distance and secrets get in the way of your bond. Distrust will alienate your already-struggling children. If that sets in, where would they turn to now?
How to Talk About It
Don’t lie about their father. It doesn’t matter if the lies are positive or negative. It doesn’t even matter if the lies were meant to protect your children’s feelings.
Lies won’t last, and lies certainly won’t further a family’s relationship.
Your children deserve the full extent of the truth, free of embellishment. Offer to talk about anything they need to be clarified, on their terms, then help them sort through their feelings.
Your children need time, comfort, and maybe company to help process the truth. A good mother should never leave her children lacking for any of that.
Acceptance (Close The Book)
Dealing with single-parenthood can be overwhelming at times. It’s not unreasonable to entertain the fantasy of your ex-partner coming back a changed man, ready to take responsibility.
You need to fully accept that this family is composed of you and your children alone.
The presence of your ex-partner is optional at best, and unwanted at worst. There’s no point in fantasizing about that slim possibility when there’s so much to be done! Vague hope is the least of your priorities, and where would an absentee father even begin to make amends?
It’s not impossible. Such returns have happened, and some even left families better for it. But it’s still extremely unlikely, and even if they returned there’s no guarantee it’ll be an improvement.
Accept that they aren’t coming back. Accept that the children are yours alone. But never accept that you’re alone – how could a mother ever be alone, when she has children to care for?
Focus on the tangible joy you find doting on your children.
Leave their absentee father out of your family’s foreseeable future.
Sometimes, fathers want nothing to do with their children. It’s a difficult situation the rest of the family has to cope with, but not an impossible one. While finances are an urgent concern, the people left behind need to strengthen the bond they share through trust and open communication.