About 3 weeks ago, I called you to discuss how my teenage son had gotten a young girl pregnant, but had left the country for Thailand and was showing no interest in accepting responsibility. Your advice was to tell him bluntly how I felt about things, and then turn my attention to helping the baby and mother. Because my son is in Thailand and unavailable by phone, I had no choice but to address the matter via email… What follows is the pointed (and loving) letter I sent to him. I thought maybe you’d get a smile out of seeing your advice put to work. Results and the future are still unknown, but I have faith that things will be fine. Thanks to you and your staff for confirming my decisions and positions, and encouraging me to take the action I have.
Good luck to all.
I feel the need to be clear about some things – probably already known by you, and possibly overdue from me – but it seems time for me to share openly with you….
Though I realize you are going to make your own choices – I also feel totally comfortable and appropriate that (as your father and someone who loves you), I at least share MY view on responsible fatherhood.
A good dad is present: Physically and emotionally. Always. No excuses and no higher priorities. His #1 RESPONSIBILITY is to always be present. Period.
A good dad provides: safety, security, food, shelter, healthcare. He places needs of his child ahead of his own – first, second and third. Maybe then he thinks of himself but probably not. His #1 JOB is to provide.
A good dad teaches: shoelaces, multiplication tables, manners, football rules, kindness. Everything a child needs to know is up to Dad…whether through his own efforts and examples, the help of schools/teachers/pastors, and/or through exposing the child to experiences. A good dad teaches.
Lastly – but also first AND at all times – a good Dad loves: hugs, boundaries, laughter, discipline, kindness, consistency. Kids deserve and need these things from their dad – and to behave in ANY way that restrains or eliminates such things from a child is quite simply – wrong.
I believe a guy can be a MAN without having children. But I also believe that a guy with kids MUST be a FATHER to be a MAN.
All this being said – I’m YOUR Dad and I love you and always will. I love you enough to send this note to you, even when I suspect it won’t change anything, and that you may find it upsetting. So in addition to sharing my big picture thoughts on being a good dad, I will add my views on specifically what’s happening these days…Maybe they’re right and maybe not – but at least you won’t have to wonder what I am thinking.
Your child will be born in a few weeks – I believe your place is here, now, and involved with planning how her life will be – starting at day 1. Such decisions and plans are important and should not be made casually, hastily or without deliberation. Waiting to address the considerable list of issues to be addressed seems ill-advised. Please don’t believe that I endorse your decision to be absent as the day of your daughter’s birth approaches.
You need to focus immediately on how you’re going to permanently provide for your daughter. You need a job (or jobs) that pays enough to cover your daughter’s needs, and to cover your own needs that enable you to be a father.
You need to squarely face the reality that there’s no way you’ll be taking a baby/child to Thailand any time soon – not for many years, if ever. You’ve no resources to provide the basics for your child in the U.S. – and even less so, on your own, out of the country. No mother would allow it. No judge will allow it. That means if you’re really going to be “in her life” – that means you’ll be here, in the U.S.. If you’re not here – that’s up to you but don’t fool yourself, or think anyone else will be fooled – about your ability to be a good dad and a standup guy from around the world. You’re having a daughter here. Thailand will have to wait.
And lastly – you need to accept the reality that your baby’s mother will be a part of the equation and in your life forever. She and the baby need to be able to count on you to be reliable, pleasant, collaborative and honest. That relationship needs to be developing now. The sooner you develop a solid working connection with your daughter’s mother, the sooner your child will enjoy the benefits of her parents working toward her life being peaceful, safe, and healthy.
Drugs and alcohol won’t help, and will only harm your ability to be Dad. Like it or not – you’re going to need every dollar and ounce of energy for your daughter – doing otherwise will be selfishness that will have a price to all.
And – as you know – fatherhood is VERY important to ME. You know it because you’ve lived it and seen it with me. Having my son become a father creates new joys and responsibilities for me in my role as your dad – so all that I have shared with/about YOU as father applies to me too!
I am definitely willing to continue to do MY duty in support of you as you stumble into fatherhood yourself. So what does that mean? What can you expect from me?
Specifically that means I will help you do what you can do for yourself as you become a dad – as you find your own paths to be present, provide, teach and love that baby. And – I will not assist when you’re doing/being contrary to such basic principles of fatherhood. My concern will remain for/with you – my son – but my priority and sense of responsibility will now include this child as well. You should expect my thumbs up to YOU most when I see you being a father and a man. I will help you figure that out and make it so – but I will have little interest if YOUR top priority is not your daughter.
Think about what’s on your plate. What’s right. How you’re going to do it. And ideas for getting started. You’re a father – it’s time to assume the role. It’s a big job – but you’re not alone.
I’m proud of you and am certain that – if we all team up – your mom, me, our spouses, your brother, and all our friends and families (the mother’s folks, sister and crew) – with you and your baby’s mother solidly at the helm – we can build a wonderful life for this baby.
I have faith in you. I love you and I KNOW that your very best days are ahead of you – and your daughter. Make good decisions now and your future will turn out fine. I promise – and a dad never lies to his son!