Should a teenager try to get to know the father who abandoned them?

tinno 06 asks: I am hurting. I really want to know my dad, and I have tried, but I have failed. It hurts me so much that am expected to be like everyone else and forget about him because he walked out on my mum when she was pregnant. Am I wrong to do this?

Hi tinno 06 –

One of the saddest things a human can go through is being abandoned by a parent.  For lots of people, it means they spend their life angry at, or even hating, that parent.  But as you point out, for some others, it’s a different pain – that they want to find that parent and get to know them, maybe even get close to them, while those around them tell them not to.

Deep down, the basic fact is that it’s all unfair, tinno 06.  It just stinks that anyone ever goes through this.  And, given that fact, your job is just to figure out how you choose to live with it.

Now one thing I’m a little unclear on – when you say you’ve tried and failed to get to know him, do you mean that your father has refused to communicate with you, or that he’s been hard to find, or that he’s just someone who’s hard to get to know?

If it’s the first one, if he’s saying he wants nothing to do with you, then I’m afraid that you may be just stuck with what lots of people call a “deadbeat dad,”  and you just have to find your way through life without him.  And if so, your job now is to really grieve all that you are being denied.

People love to tell others to “move on” past awful things, without understanding that that “moving on” isn’t very easy, and that there’s a lot to go through first.  So if anyone says that to you, just tell them “Give me time.”  And if they don’t, maybe you need to tell them in a clearer way (For me, what works, is snarling, showing my fangs, and giving a good growl – that gets very understood quickly!).

But if your dad’s not avoiding you, if he’s just hard to find or to talk with, then you have every right in the world to keep trying, and to create the relationship you want with him.  Your mom might never like him – and she has a pretty good reason to feel that way – but he’s not her father.  Nor is he your friends’ father.  So you don’t need to “obey” them about this.

All that matters, tinno 06, is that you do what’s best for you.  I wish your dad had stuck around, and been there for you all the times you needed him.  But as you grow up, you get to make more choices about what you want and need.  And right now, it sounds like what you need is whatever parts of your dad you can get.

So be good to yourself; understand that he’s very likely to be distant and pull away again (as he did to your mom).  But, taking care to keep safe, I say to go for it.  I haven’t seen any of my family since I was a couple of months old, and if I had the chance, I’d leap over trees to find them today!

All the best luck in the world,



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