DEAR ABBY: I have a beautiful 4-year-old daughter. I have raised her alone, with no help and no child support. The father has never seen her. I dated him for two years and broke up before I knew I was pregnant. He and his family tried desperately to convince me to abort, almost threatening me if I kept the baby.
Four years later, my little girl is now saying, "I don't have a daddy," and weeping about it. I tell her that God is her father and he's my father, too.
Abby, this guy is extremely volatile, spiritually weak, fickle and disrespectful. It took me a while to grasp all he was about, and when I did, I left.
My daughter has a great life, is very grounded, feels safe, has a one-home, one-church family and incredible grandparents. I do not want to disrupt her life by bringing a man into it who made it clear he wants no part of her, and who is not the role model I want for my child.
What's the next step regarding conversations with her, getting child support, etc.? -- SAD GIRL'S MOM
DEAR MOM: While I sympathize that your daughter doesn't have a father figure, based on your description of her father, you used sound judgment in ending your relationship. To reconnect with him now could lead to your daughter being rejected once again, not only by him, but by his family as well. You were also wise to forgo child support. If you demanded it, the father would be in her life, for better or worse.
In order to fulfill your child's need for a father figure, enlist the help of a male relative or longtime male friend to function as a surrogate father, or at least a part-time male presence in her life. Another option is to join a group for single parents so your daughter can see she's not the only child without a dad.
An appointment with a child psychologist to discuss what else may be causing your daughter to weep could also be helpful.
DEAR ABBY: The letter about taking food to families in mourning reminded me of a similar experience. After I had major surgery, some friends offered to bring lunch that we could share. They planned to stay and visit with me. I told them I wasn't up to socializing due to pain and discomfort. Two weeks later, they offered again. I thanked them, but declined for the same reason.
In the meantime, another friend called to say she wanted to drop off some meals she had prepared. She told my husband she would not stay, but that I could call her if I felt like talking.
My recuperation lasted longer than I anticipated, but she brought us more meals. You can imagine how we welcomed those homemade meals. I've told her many times over I'm forever grateful for her kindness.
This taught me a valuable lesson. I promised myself I would perform this same act of kindness in the future. When the first group of friends called for the third time, I hinted that I appreciated the home-cooked meals my other friend brought. Their answer: "We'll go out to lunch when you're better." -- A MORE COMPASSIONATE PERSON, SOMEWHERE IN THE U.S.A.
DEAR PERSON: Talk about a letter with an important message. Thank you for sharing this valuable lesson. Many can learn from it.
Abby shares her favorite recipes in a two-booklet set. To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $7.90 per set ($9 per set in Canada) to: Dear Abby Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)
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