For the last five years we knew nothing about my husband, and my children were accustomed to him not being around. When I thought things were going well, he showed up at my house about two weeks ago because he needed me to do him a favor. From that day until now, he has continued to see my children.

My concern is that my daughter, who has never lived in the same house with her father, has gotten her hopes up and is as happy as can be…. I have spoken with her and tried to explain the situation, but she won’t accept that he is here now only because of the present circumstances. I don’t know what to do!

Dear Friend,

It is hard to understand how some men (and a few women) can be so selfish that they are willing to abandon their own children. Usually they have ways of justifying their actions, such as telling themselves that their children are better off without them, or that it’s all the woman’s fault and she is the one to blame. Some men even see themselves as mere sperm donors, and have no feelings toward their children at all. But all of these justifications are just excuses for selfishness. And unfortunately, some people remain selfish until the day they die.

How can a loving mother protect her children from the truth about their father? She can’t. Sooner or later the children will find out the truth and will have to deal with the feelings of rejection. As much as a mother wants to prevent her children’s emotional pain, it is not within her power to do so. Some mothers lie about it as long as they can, but eventually the children find out. All a mother can do is offer unconditional love and be there to pick up the pieces of her children’s broken hearts.

When my parents divorced, I was ten years old. My father went away for several years. He didn’t call or write. My mother made excuses for him, and I was too young to see the truth. When I was a teenager, my father came around again. I was convinced that he needed me to take care of him. So I told my mother that I was going to go and live with him if she didn’t let him move into my brother’s room. I’m still not sure why my stepfather allowed the arrangement, but by that time my father was old and sick and not much of a threat to anyone. He died a few years later, while still living in my brother’s room.

I remained fiercely loyal to my father, even though he showed me almost no love and he disappointed me over and over again. I don’t remember him ever attending any school function or even showing much interest in my life. But today, thirty‑five years after his death, I think that he did love me, but that he was weak and addicted to alcohol, and it was easier to continually remain in a drunken stupor. He chose to avoid the hard work of parenting and of expressing love to his children.

I can’t know if my father really did love me, but I do know that I have a Heavenly Father who loves me with a never‑ending love. He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins so that I, too, can be His child. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”(1) My Heavenly Father didn’t take the easy route. He demonstrated His love for me. And I am very grateful to know His love.

1 Ro 5:8