DEAR ABBY: I recently read the letter you received from "Joe -- Not My Real Name," the 23-year-old who doesn't want the responsibility of fatherhood after a "few fun flings" with an older woman who got pregnant.
I found myself in the same situation: Someone else made a decision that would affect me for many years. I, however, made the decision to get involved. I could have just stayed away and grudgingly written child support checks. Instead, I decided to develop a relationship with my child.
The last four years have not been easy, but the difficulties have been worth it. I have my daughter about half the time. She is the most precious thing that has ever come into my life. As far as the child support goes, it's expensive, but the relationship means everything to me, and the rest just doesn't matter now.
I'd like to tell "Joe": You got into the game. You chose to play, and these are the cards you've been dealt. If you fold, you lose. If you play fair, you can win big.
Remember, your baby had no choice in this situation. It is not the baby's fault, so don't punish your child for your decision to have unprotected sex and the decision of the woman to keep the baby. You are a dad now, so do your best to be a good one. The rewards are far greater than the sacrifices. -- A HAPPY DAD IN OREGON
DEAR HAPPY DAD: Your letter was a dandy day-brightener. I hope "Joe" sees it and realizes that his story could also have a happy ending if he looks at his situation from a different perspective and decides to be the father his child deserves.