DEAR ABBY: When I was 19 and played bass in a rock band, I fell in love with a guy I'll call "Brian." He was three years older and also a musician. We had the best times together -- we were young and wild without a care in the world.
But the years rolled on and we got older. After six years together, I got pregnant. I thought Brian would be thrilled, but he wasn't. It changed how I felt about him. I was heartbroken and lost respect for him.
I grew up fast, and put our son, "Ricky," first. Brian, on the other hand, has refused to give up his rock 'n' roll lifestyle. He shows up to see Ricky two or three times a month, but doesn't even look at him. I can't stand the way he ignores our son. Brian says I can't alter who and how he is. I say, if we mattered to him, he would change on his own. This leads to arguments.
Which is worse -- having my son grow up with an absent father who's not "present" even when he's here? Or Ricky seeing us fight all the time, but leaving the option for Brian to be a part of his life? Or should I get my ex out of our lives for good, and risk resentment from Ricky because I moved on with our lives? -- FULLY FORMED ADULT IN L.A.
DEAR FULLY FORMED: If Brian didn't care about Ricky, he wouldn't show up two or three times a month. What strikes me as sad, however, is that he apparently doesn't know how to relate to his son.
Rather than exclude him entirely, stop the arguing and suggest that he and Ricky would both get more out of the visitations if he enrolled in a parenting class for fathers. Tell him that for the sake of Ricky's emotional well-being, you would be glad to help facilitate it any way you can, including helping him to research some of them online.