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Man reaches out to son he abandoned 31 years ago; his new family sides with son.

Man reaches out to son he abandoned 31 years ago; his new family sides with son.


Childhood trauma is hard to outrun.

The hurt can run just as deep for the parents who wronged them. One man finally tried to do right by the son that he abandoned over 30 years ago. But, his attempt at redemption may have been far too little and entirely too late. What he did manage to change, was his new family's opinion of him and the lense through which they viewed the father they thought they knew.

Attempting to build a relationship with my son after being an absent father and could use some guidance on how to move forward.


I guess I'll just start right in with the story.

In 1992 my then on and off girlfriend got pregnant and had our first son. At the time, I was working for a landscaping company making pennies and was in no way emotionally or financially ready for a child. I wasn't mature enough for that yet. I let my cowardice get the better of me. I accept full responsibility for my actions.

Rather than being a man and taking care of my son, I fled. I left Saint Louis for Colorado. I had a friend who had set up a job for me and I went after it completely leaving my son and his mother alone.

Life went on and I did my best to forget about them. I would tell myself that 'I'll go back when I'm ready.' But I never really made plans to do it.

As time went by I met someone, got married, started a business and started a family. I had 4 kids. The oldest is currently 19 and the youngest 7. I was able to provide a very good life for my family and late last year, around my oldest son's birthday, I finally faced the fact that I had completely abandoned him and didn't even know if he was alive at this point.

I left him and his mother poor and living in a bad area. It's likely he could have been in jail or dead.

I decided to confess this to my wife and my children. It was a very rough week I put on my wife. When we finally told my kids they were rightfully furious and demanded that I find their brother and let him know he has a family.

I ended up being able to get in contact with his mother. After a long conversation she hung up on me and then days later called and told me how hard it was for my son to grow up without his father and how much he suffered.

All the nights he cried, the teams he quit, the fights he got into, the identity crisis he went through. She told me everything. And at the end she told me that I could come because she thought he would want to meet me.

She also told me about the man he became without me. He's a medical student on scholarship at Washington University and he volunteers for Big Brothers Big Sisters. He's become one hell of a young man, no thanks at all to me.

I took my wife and I flew out to see him. Our first meeting went roughly since I said the wrong thing to him. I foolishly told him I was proud of him and he took exception to that, rightfully so.

After he cooled down we sat together and had lunch. We had a great conversation. We laughed and bonded a little. I told him about his siblings and he tensed up. He said he wasn't anywhere near ready to talk about them. I don't blame him. They grew up in a situation he dreamed about and he grew up in hell.

He said that he wants to get to know me and eventually his siblings but that it has to be slow and certainly not while he's busy with school. He said he has some time in the summer and that he'd fly out to Colorado and we could do some outdoorsy things together.

He's also understandably distant. For example when he said he'd fly out and I offered to cover it he just shook his head. Said, 'Nope. You don't owe me anything.' He refers to his siblings as 'your kids.' Which I get since he has no connection to them.

My question is how do you think this is best approached? What would you tell me to keep in mind while spending time with him? What should my mindset be going in?

People were pretty harsh and honest with their responses:


If you are wanting to make amends, I would suggest starting with the 18 years of child support you owe to the mother. As for the future, I guess figure out what it is you want from all this and let them know. You can't be proud of him, that would mean you were involved in some way, you can only be impressed.


You need to let him lead with this. You left him so you don't get to call the shots unfortunately. Just remember he is not obligated in anyway to want to know you or your kids, whether or not they are his half-siblings.

Hang in there, and just let him progress it at his own pace.


I think you need to put together an accounting of how much child support you ought to have paid, Including interest. Send his mother a lump sum check. Even if you have to refinance/mortgage your home to do it, or sell any item you own (like a motorcycle, boat, hunting cabin, etc).

If his mother refuses the money, then establish a non-modifiable trust fund for him and his mother and deposit the money into it. Next add him to your will, equal to your other children. Because, after 'I'm sorry' comes 'making amends'.

As for your role in his life, follow his lead. I hope your wife and children forgive you. I wish the best for this son and his mother (and You too).

The OP chimed in here:


This is a good idea. I'll do exactly this. The child support, letting him lead, all of it.


I've seen posts like this both here and on the relationship subreddit. The absent parents can get ridiculed badly, and somewhat deservedly. A lot of times this leads to the parent getting defensive and justifying their actions.

I don't condone what you did at all, you still have a long road ahead, and there's a ton of room for error. But I have to commend you for taking your knocks both here and in real life with acceptance.

You're not trying to butt your way into anyone's lives or defend what you did, and I respect that. Obviously none of us know what will happen, but I hope it works out in a way that's healthy for everyone.


I think you need to take it slow and be there and open while still letting him lead. You also need to understand that you are about as much of a father to him as I am, which is to say none at all. You don't really get to just swoop in and expect to be dad.

You are a stranger to him just like anyone else. Maybe actually worse because in his eyes you rejected him. If you put in the work and give it time, the two of you may develop a relationship as he gets older and more mature, and also sees you aren't going anywhere. This could take a decade or more and may never happen at all.

Update to meeting and building a relationship with my son after 24 years.


He allowed me to fly him out to Colorado for a few days to spend some time with his siblings who were all dying to meet him.

It went really well. His siblings already adore him. He's all they can talk about. He instantly, naturally went from stranger to big brother. It's really remarkable how seamlessly he embraced that role.

He spent the time he was here mainly with them. I gave him a car to drive them all around and they had a blast. My baby girl cried when he left. My oldest was obsessed. She said at one point, 'we've got 19 years of selfies to catch up on.'

It was really nice to see them together like that. He went back to Saint Louis for clinicals, he said. But they all exchanged numbers and social media info and they're staying connected.

A couple of memories that stand out to me were watching him play wrestle with his brothers and talking to my oldest daughter about what it's like to be in med school. She's trying to figure out what she wants to do and having him there as an experienced voice is just so heart warming.

Of course, there is a struggle. My son's and my oldest daughter outright told me they respect me less as a father and a man. That was and is a tough pill to swallow but I understand it.

My wife has asked for counseling because of my deception and because she never thought I could be capable of something like this. But at least my son finally has some type of a relationship with his siblings. That's all for now.

This new update prompted another outpour of comments:


That actually seems like a really good outcome. Possibly the best you could really hope for realistically.


I'm glad things are working out with your son. Prioritize your wife, mate. Seems like she's struggling the most.


You did the right thing. I'm glad to hear your children are getting to know each other. Best wishes to your family.


What really pisses me off, that once he was in the financial position to do so, he never sent money.


That boy is a much better, MUCH more forgiving person than I would have been in that situation.


i'm glad OP's ex, wife, and kids all called him out on his bull@#*t. i'm also glad things seem like they're going well though. the kids bonding was really touching. hopefully OOP can make it up to everyone. seems like some great first steps.

What would you tell this repentant absent father?

Sources: Reddit,Reddit
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