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A son yearns for his father


Dear Life Coach,

When my 13-year-old son was an infant, his father and I separated, due to many severe conflicts. Since then there has been no communication with us, or visits with his son. Over the years I have received maintenance for my son through the Family Court.{{more}}

My son has always known about his father and now that he is older, he has told me that he wants to have a relationship with his father. Recently my son left several telephone messages at his father’s workplace, but got no response. Sometimes my son sees him dropping off other children at school and is upset that, unlike them, he cannot be with his father.

I am scared to have any contact with this man and although I love my son, I am not prepared to communicate with his father. My son has always been well behaved, but since I told him that there will be no contact with his father, I have noticed some changes in his behaviour: acting out and disrespect. I do not want things to get any worse. I feel guilty and as if I have failed my son. Now I wonder if I have done the right thing.

Concerned Mom (CM)

Dear CM,

Thanks for your email. I hope that you will be able to find the strength to work towards satisfying your son’s need for his father in his life.

Your Situation:

Several factors are at work here: need for father, bitter parental separation, search for identity/biological connection, anger/resentment, parenting/self-esteem undermined, among others. I will address these briefly.

1. Need for Father

Research has shown that the presence of a father in a child’s life is a major factor with regards to healthy emotional development for both boys and girls.

2. Bitter Parental Separation

Children are always affected by parental separation, because they want their parents to remain together. However, they are most adversely affected by the quality of the relationship between their parents after the separation: 1. Children adjust better when parents are able to maintain a cordial relationship. 2. Children develop emotional problems when parents are in ongoing conflict. See more on this at:

3. Search for Identity/Biological Connection

As part of his search for identity, your son is seeking to reconnect with his biological father, from whom he has been disconnected. It is a natural desire for him to want to know his father and have a relationship with him.

4. Anger/Resentment

Your son is becoming angry and resentful – poorly adjusted due to failed attempts to connect with his father, while other children are able to enjoy a relationship with him. His father is also very angry, neglecting to connect with his son. You are also very angry, hence your refusal to communicate with him at any level.

5. Parenting/Self-Esteem Undermined

As adults we define ourselves by the roles we play: mother, teacher, etc. When things do not go quite right, or we make mistakes, we feel as if we have failed and this impacts our self-esteem negatively.

What to Do:

1. Importance of Father

Understand that in order for your son to develop healthily, his father’s involvement in his life is important. There is no way around this, especially since his father is in town.

2. Restore Communication

Although you do not wish to communicate with your son’s father, it is important that you do for the benefit of your son. You do not need to have a close relationship with this man, but you do need to have amicable communication with him, strictly for the purpose of ensuring a healthy father-son relationship including times for visitation with your child.

3. Third Party/Mediator

Based on your bitter separation, it seems important for you to use an objective third party (eg. a person respected by both of you, a pastor, or a lawyer) in re-establishing communication.

4. Consequences for your Actions

By neglecting to set this right, your son’s anger and resentment is likely to grow and he may lose respect for you as a parent. By correcting the situation, your son is likely to feel happier and you are likely to regain your sense of control as a parent.

5. Counseling

Consider talking with a counsellor in order to move past your anger and resentment. It is well documented that long-standing emotional problems can result in various health problems.

CM, all the best as you consider re-uniting your son with his father.

Life Coach


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