Better off dead? Single mom wonders how to explain a father's absence

"You are much stronger than you think." (Morsa Images/Getty Images)
"You are much stronger than you think." (Morsa Images/Getty Images)

Too many children in South Africa are being raised by single moms, who sometimes struggle to answer their children's questions about their absent fathers. 

Parent24 recently shared an article about how to best explain a father's absence to young children, and in response, single mom and Parent24 reader Onthatile wrote to us to share her experience of raising her son without an involved father.

Read her story here...

I am a single parent of a 2-year-old amazing human being.

His father and I were together for two years before he was born and we parted just before my son turned one.

Our relationship was very unhealthy, for me that is.

He was emotionally and mentally abusive. And once, when I was three months pregnant, he hit me and dislocated my jaw.

He was also a serial cheater.

I found him with three children from different mothers. And after I gave birth a fourth child, just a month or two older than my son came into the picture.

Time to leave 

I decided to leave, for my own mental and physical well-being and also to be a better parent for my son. Before I left, when our son was born, he was already showing red flags of parenting.

He hardly spent time with our son and he'd always either be tired after work or spend the entire weekend drinking.

When we broke up he stopped supporting our son and didn't come to see him anymore.

Then towards the end of last year, he showed up again briefly. Visited him twice or thrice for less than half an hour and bought him clothes in December.

Then for three months or so afterwards he contributed to his formula and nappies.

On and off 

And then he stopped again. Visited a few times for less than half an hour again and stopped.

We haven't heard from him for almost half a year now. I called him a few days before our son's birthday to remind him of the occasion and told him what I had planned.

He said he'd call on the day and wish our son a happy birthday. He didn't.

I am so tired of trying to make him a part of our son's life. 

And I honestly feel, from my experience of his relationship with his other children, that he is not a good parent and I would rather not expose my son to the continuous disappointments and let-downs I know he will bring him.

Better off dead? 

I had decided to tell my son his father had died if he ever asks about him.

The main reason for doing this was so that he wouldn't want to find his father if he thought he was dead, and that would therefore save him all the disappointment I know he will be faced with.

But I now realise I can't do that.

If he ever runs into his father or hears about him from somewhere else in the future my son will resent me for keeping them apart.

This is going to be a tough conversation to have with him.


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