The father of my baby dumped me when she was one month old. Two months later he announced he had been living with another woman for several months and that they were getting married in a month. Of course, all that broke my heart (I had been dating him for years) and I went into a crisis.
Before dumping me, he had been filling our relationship with lies and signs of disrespect towards me. He was going out to bars with friends even the day before I gave birth (I was at the hospital). He started doing this when I was about five months pregnant. I never confronted him because I was afraid the pain would affect my pregnancy. Indeed I went through a lot of pain, but now I am confident everything is in the past and I am much better without him (my baby is six months old now).
My life is peaceful and without lies. However, one question remains. I know there is a legal part because my baby has his last name, but my question regards my baby’s wellness.
I cut all communication with my baby’s father, for my own mental health. I wish I could keep it like that for good. He has not shown any signs of wanting to be responsible for the baby at any level (financial and emotional). I know I can file for child support, but that also would give him rights to visit my daughter (the law in my country would grant such rights). I am financially solvent. I have a good job and so I really don’t need to ask for child support. And I know I can file to remove his paternity rights to keep him away.
However, I wonder then, will it hurt my daughter in some way if I keep the “zero contact” situation with her father forever? He is distant and uninterested now. He wanted to have only “phone contact,” to which I refused. But I’m afraid later on, after a couple of years, he will try to have contact again.
Does she really need to have him in her life even though he has shown to not have good feelings for her? I don’t want her to suffer for not having a father while growing up, but I am not sure if that kind of father would be good for her. I’m so sorry I did not give her a better father. Now I only want to do what’s best for her.
- Dr. Schwartz responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
- Dr. Schwartz intends his responses to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; answers should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).
- Questions submitted to this column are not guaranteed to receive responses.
- No correspondence takes place.
- No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Schwartz to people submitting questions.
- Dr. Schwartz, Mental Help Net and CenterSite, LLC make no warranties, express or implied, about the information presented in this column. Dr. Schwartz and Mental Help Net disclaim any and all merchantability or warranty of fitness for a particular purpose or liability in connection with the use or misuse of this service.
- Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.
Sadly, there are too many people who experience the type of dilemma you describe. It is understandable that you want to sever all contact between your baby and her rejecting and insensitive father. Yet, you seem to be aware that doing so may not be in the child’s best interests, particulary when she gets older.
A simple answer to your question is, “yes,” your baby needs to know and be able to see her father. Though it may not seem so now, the day may come, even years from now, when he changes his mind and wants to see his daughter. Also, most children want to meet their biological parents, even if they have been absent for one reason or another. To pull a screen down and pretend he does not exist would be to get caught up in another lie. It would also leave your child asking about who her father really was. If he never wants to see her, she can know that when she is older. At that time you will be free from being accused, by your daughter, of telling lies or keeping him from her.
It seems to me that paternity rights are another matter. Some people may disagree with what I am about to say, but, this is my opinion:
The father refuses to see his child and has really surrendered any rights to her, in terms of custody or anything else. You make a good living and you are able to support the baby and yourself. On that basis, it is my opinion that parnity rights should be severed. That would not prevent him from seeing her in the future, if he wishes. However, severing his paternity rights also protects you and her from any potential for interference in the future.
One of the awful things about what this man is doing is that he is setting up this child for his rejecting her in the future. The world is filled with fathers who promise to visit their child and then fail to show up. Children suffer awful feelings after this type of thing happens. At present, he seems to be that type of man. That is why I support the notion of severing his paternity rights and even changing her last name to your’s.
Best of luck to you and your daughter.