My parents divorced a few months before I was born, and my father moved to another city. I am now twenty‑two years old, and I have seen my father only on a few occasions…. My mother never spoke badly of him, but she has said that she hopes we will never look for him because he was the one who abandoned us….

But a lot of things have happened. Last year my only uncle died, and it made me think that my father could die and I would never again be able to speak with him. So I made up with him, and now we are in contact by email, and I feel good about it. My mother, on the other hand, does not know about this. I feel badly for her. I feel that I am betraying her, that I don’t appreciate all she has given us. I don’t know what to do.

Dear Friend,

We are sorry that you had to grow up without a father. It is tragic that the problems between your mother and father caused him to stay away from you, even though you desperately wanted and needed him in your life. We hope that other men like him will pay attention to your story and decide to do whatever it takes to be a part of their children’s lives.

It is extremely difficult for divorced parents to put aside their own feelings and do what is best for the children. Mothers who have custody frequently come between the children and their father for emotional reasons, such as anger or bitterness, or because of financial disagreements. Fathers willingly walk away because they think they can’t afford to support their children financially, or because the mother is just too difficult to communicate with. No matter what the reasons are, and no matter whose fault it is, the children are the ones who suffer the most.

Your mother probably feels that your father doesn’t deserve to have you in his life because of whatever he did or didn’t do in the past. She will not forgive him, and she doesn’t want you to forgive him either. She wants him to pay the consequences for his actions, and in her mind, the price he pays for what he did won’t be enough if you decide to have a relationship with him.

God made it biologically necessary for there to be both a male and a female in order to procreate offspring. God’s pattern for the family is to have a father and a mother because that is what is best for children. Many experts believe that when one parent is taken away for whatever reason, there are serious emotional consequences for the children.

It is completely healthy and normal for you to want to pursue the relationship with your father, in spite of the way your mother feels. She cannot understand the fact that you have an emotional need for a relationship with him. “Father Deprivation” is a term that has been used by researchers who have attempted to measure the effects of fatherlessness on children. Though some of the results are controversial, it is safe to say that even though you are grown up now, there is a hidden emptiness that led you to have secretly begun contact with your father.

You should not lie to your mother about your relationship with your father. Even though you would be hiding the truth in order to protect her feelings, lies always make things more difficult. If she asks, be ready to explain that you are filling an emptiness in yourself. So it’s not about giving him what he deserves, but about getting what you deserve.

We wish you well,

Linda and Charles