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My son

  • 23-01-2021 9:33am
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 166,026 ✭✭✭✭


    I have a 22 year old son….great lad. I wasn’t in his life growing up. I left before he was born. I didn’t support him even when things were good for me and bad for them. I said if his mother wanted a baby it was her problem. I know they suffered a lot of hardship while my life was good. He reached out to me 2 years ago said he wanted to get to know me. No anger or judgement. It was great. His mother encouraged the relationship and said what happened is in the past. I know I don’t deserve this.
    I haven’t seen him since the lockdowns but we stayed in touch on the phone. Things were good. We were planning a holiday. I told a work mate, more a friend, about him at Christmas. He was shocked I never mentioned him before. I told him the story. He was angry with me, said I let the boy down. I did. I wasn’t there. I should have been there but I had too much living to do. It’s no excuse. At 22 what is the point now, he has his mam. She got married recently. He has a dad. I haven’t spoken to him since Christmas. Workmate says I should be ashamed of myself letting him down again. I let him down since day one can’t let him down again but I never asked for him to come back. I’m angry he did, angry he turned out so well, angry he’s not more angry with me, angry at his mam for not being angry.

    I don’t know what I’m asking. I’m not cut out for this.


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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 95 ✭✭Uptheduff


    If I'm reading right, you were enjoying developing a relationship with your son until your friend expressed his disgust at you abandoning him? For the record, I agree with your friend but that's not really going to help you.

    Being angry with your son for turning out well is a fairly odious sentiment. His mum is right though, your behaviour in the past left a lot to desire but your son wants to know you now. He's willing to forgive you, the least you can do is forgive yourself and try to be there for him now.

    At 22, he's not looking for a dad, he's looking to know you as a person.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,908 ✭✭✭Jequ0n


    Your friend is a dick.
    Not sure why he feels so affronted that you hadn’t told him, it’s hardly any of his business.
    You were fine with the renewed contact before your friend started the guilt trip and now you are freaking out about disappointing again?

    I can’t see why you would have to feel guilty. He doesn’t seem resentful, so just move on and give it a go if that’s what you want. Feeling guilty will just make you an easy target for so many things ..


  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 2,544 Mod ✭✭✭✭Mystery Egg


    It sounds like you are grieving.

    Don't take your grief out on your son.

    Everything your friend said to you is right but you've come up with the wrong conclusions.

    Do the right thing now. It's not too late. You are lucky and blessed. Call your son today.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,272 ✭✭✭qwerty13


    In my opinion (which is harsh) you are abandoning him a second time so that you don’t have deal with your guilt for abandoning him the first time.

    The young man (and his mother) are being amazingly generous towards you. Can you not get over your own hang ups to behave decently as they are?

    Would you consider speaking to a professional about your anger?


  • Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,181 Mod ✭✭✭✭HildaOgdenx


    qwerty13 wrote: »
    In my opinion (which is harsh) you are abandoning him a second time so that you don’t have deal with your guilt for abandoning him the first time.

    The young man (and his mother) are being amazingly generous towards you. Can you not get over your own hang ups to behave decently as they are?

    Would you consider speaking to a professional about your anger?

    Similar thoughts to this, really.
    It's not an easy situation, but is there a danger that you are allowing what your friend said to give you an 'out' again?
    The one who has the most right to be angry at this, is not your friend, it's your son, and his mother. But instead they are opening a door for you, to have a relationship with your son.

    Your son and his mother are not deserving of your anger. You really need to get that safely out of your system. I would recommend talking to a professional about the situation.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,027 ✭✭✭Sandor Clegane


    What happened in the past happened, that cant be changed, all you can do now is start from where you are now.

    Don't let your friends opinion of what happened put you off, when you confide in someone you let yourself open to there opinions, some people can't get enough of lecturing others and passing judgement.


  • Registered Users Posts: 728 ✭✭✭bertiebomber


    Opinions are like arseholes everyone has one. Your friend was out of order reprimanding you , you know you were wrong and despite you a good person evolved ( largely thanks to his mother who did not give him any bitterness towards you, what a lady !) and he is so forgiving he wants to know you . Grow a pair and get to know your son, family bonds are stronger than friendships. That male friend is a judgemental prick, lose him, grow with your son.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,094 ✭✭✭wildwillow


    Please don't abandon your son again, especially in these difficult times. Be proud of his mother and him. You had no influence on his growing up but, as he reached out to you now, you owe him your interest and friendship.

    Ignore your friend and enjoy having your son in your life.

    Forgive your young immature self, but those excuses are long gone.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,018 ✭✭✭Rubberchikken


    Your friend was kind of right in that yes you did behave badly at the start but you’ve more than made up for it and sound like you have a great relationship with your son and a good relationship with your former partner. That’s what you need to focus on now.

    Keep in touch with your son. It’s a priceless relationship and one you and he can have all your life. The connection with your friend...not so much.


  • Registered Users Posts: 589 ✭✭✭heretothere


    If he wants to know you take it!


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  • Registered Users Posts: 8,029 ✭✭✭SusieBlue


    Please don’t abandon your son again, he doesn’t deserve it. Put building a relationship with him before your guilt and frustration at how you behaved in the past.

    Your friend was out of order for confronting you, though technically right in what they said. The truth hurts and hearing that someone thinks poorly of your actions is never nice, but you should use this as inspiration to be an even better father to your son.
    The father he deserves.

    Lastly, you should be delighted and thankful that he has turned out so well. Count your blessings and don’t lose your son for a second time, because you won’t get a third chance with him.
    Think of how confused and upset he must be that you haven’t contacted him since Christmas, the poor thing.
    It’s make or break now, so it’s time to swallow your guilt and step up. This could be your last chance and you are throwing it away, and your future self isn’t going to thank you for it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 564 ✭✭✭Yellow pack crisps


    You have a second chance. You are incredibly lucky. Your son can have two dads. You can make up for not being there. Don’t let this opportunity slip away, you will regret it more than the first time. Relationships are like blocks that build a house, one at a time, slowly, structured and securely fitted as so one day you can trust it not to fall down. The son and the mother seem like hugely decent, positive and extraordinarily kind to want to get your son to know you. The past can be Mended with trust and kindness. Get to know your son. He can be a positive person in your life and you can be one in his. You seem 40 or so! You have loads of time.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,185 ✭✭✭Dark Phoenix


    You feel guilty. You should feel guilty. Fair play to you for acknowledging your past failings and not making excuses for yourself.
    You have a what sounds like a wonderful son and a very understanding ex. You have a chance to have a future with your son. It’s daunting though as part of you is afraid you will fail again. You have a prick of a friend and are in danger of allowing this friend to give you the excuse of failing now - don’t do this. This man is 22 and needs his father - he reached out to you - can you imagine how hard that was for him? Do everything now that you can to have a relationship and to give him what he needs. Just because he is over 18 doesn’t mean he doesn’t need your care and support. Your friend clearly has issues - don’t let his attitude and behaviour influence yours. People can change and you have every opportunity now to be a good person and father - don’t waste it. While you can’t go on holidays - communicate as much as you can


  • Registered Users Posts: 15,176 ✭✭✭✭ILoveYourVibes



    I don’t know what I’m asking. I’m not cut out for this.

    You are going to have to build up your emotional resources, wisdom and maturity so that you are cut out for it.

    Guilt and shame are not really useful emotions ....

    They don't DO anything.

    IMO op it sounds like you might be missing a lot of emotional coping skills and intelligence.

    Also you don't need to tell the whole world your business. Hey i have a son. Don't tell them the whole history ...

    First lesson ...figure out how you are going to deal with the friend...

    Don't run from it.

    You are stronger than you think. You are not going to suddenly melt away or anything etc.

    Be honest with yourself ...but also focus on the FUTURE ..not on the past.

    Be honest with yourself ...but be kind to yourself ....and see the best of the situation.

    Your friend is judging you ...on the worst of you ....not the best of you. So don't let it shape your view of yourself.



    It doesn't matter what the friend thinks btw ...or anyone ....just your son really...right?

    And you have to give him room for any complicated feelings. But that is all that matters. That connection.

    In fact ..i mean its about you ...but like its not WHOLLY about you and what people think of you.

    I believe in you. I believe in the best of you.


  • Registered Users Posts: 166,026 ✭✭✭✭LegacyUser


    I contacted him last night and we talked. I will stay in touch. I spoke to my mate and he asked if I would have looked for my son if he hadn’t found me and I said no. I’ve been thinking about that all night. He looked for me. I never gave him or his mother a thought over these years or maybe I did and I just didn’t care. I see myself as an older brother to him but that’s it. I don’t want to be his dad. When I said I felt angry I am not able for his attitude. His mother wanted to meet me but I said no. She wrote me a lovely letter. We still haven’t met. They should be mad at me but they are not. I know his past and it was very hard and I could have put my hand in my pocket to help but I didn’t even though I was doing very well. I don’t know why I did that. He knows this but has never mentioned it. I think I thought if he ever contacted me that he would be a thug and I would not want to know him but he’s a great lad. He’s never asked for anything but time. I’m proud of him but don’t have a right to be. I didn’t make him that way My mate says now I am finally having to face up to my actions the guilt is coming, he says I could ignore it before. Maybe he’s right. Me and the lad are in contact for now so I will see how it goes.


  • Moderators, Music Moderators Posts: 2,147 Mod ✭✭✭✭Oink


    Your son wants to get to know you, instead of pushing you away.His mother is supportive, instead of telling you to go away. They are both willing to look to the future.

    So face up to the past, own up to it. But don’t let it eat you up and spoil the chance that your son is giving you. What’s the use of that?

    Be the best dad you can be NOW, it matters more than what you did before.

    Your friend is out of line.


  • Registered Users Posts: 663 ✭✭✭Funk It


    Great to hear you are back in touch, and hope everything goes well for you all from here.


  • Registered Users Posts: 939 ✭✭✭bitofabind


    You’ve suppressed the guilt and shame of ignoring your son and not being a father to him for the past 22 years. Now he’s walked into your life it’s unavoidable and has to be faced. But this time instead of processing it, you’re projecting anger onto your son & his mother for being far braver, generous and vulnerable than you’ve ever been able to be.

    Anger is the easiest emotion to access. Guilt, shame and regret, not so much. But they are just feelings and they won’t kill you. Feelings can be dealt with and processed. Find a therapist and start doing that work. It’s clear that your son wanting you in his life in some way is something you have to honour to be a person who can look at himself in the mirror and not run from his duties for the rest of your days. Start therapy and start showing up for him. Uncomfortable feelings are not excuses for not doing the right thing anymore.


  • Administrators Posts: 13,420 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭Big Bag of Chips


    When I read your post yesterday one of the first things I thought was - would he have been happy if he found out the son was dragged up and was a bit of a layabout thug.

    And you answered that this morning.

    I think the fact that he is a nice lad, well brought up, turned out to be a fine young man with a positive attitude to life and a mother who clearly has shaped him into that bothers you. When you turned your back you expected them to fail. And then you could have also looked at them and felt you did right because you were never going to be able to change the inevitable 'dragged up young lad with a bitter single mother'.

    But now you realise that the single mother, like very very many single parents who are left with little choice but continue on actually thrived without you. They didn't need you. She didn't need you. It would of course have been better if you could have stuck around and been a positive influence in your son's life, but if you knew you were unlikely to be that (and it sounds like you couldn't have been) then the best option for everyone was to have you out of the picture and let the mother work with the knowledge she was alone in this, rather than having you on the sidelines but not ever being properly involved.

    Your ego is bruised now because you thought they would struggle and fail. You admit that you knew they could have done with financial support but you never gave it. In the end, she didn't need it. It obviously would have helped, but she got by and she raised what sounds like a lovely kind and generous young man.

    I think all the feelings you have now are to be expected. At least you have the decency to acknowledge you are inadequate as a father. You are ashamed, guilty and angry at being shown up for your failings and obviously the easy targets are the ones who have succeed in life and who actually (without meaning to) highlight all those failings in you simply by not being like you.

    You mentioned feeling like an older brother rather than a father, but even older brothers feel they have seniority over younger brothers and more life experiences. They often feel the younger siblings are "beneath" them a bit and that if anyone is going to learn from anyone else it should be the younger sibling looking up to the older sibling.

    In your case however I think you are finding that it is actually YOU who would benefit from learning from these 2 people you have ignored and looked down on for all these years. You who should look up to your son and want to be more like him. Not the other way around.

    I think it would have been easier for you if your son was a, thug. That way you wouldn't feel all this guilt for having nothing to do with him. It's an uncomfortable places to be in and one that makes you feel awkward. But it is the place you are in now. Your son doesn't want your money. Your ex doesn't want you coming in and playing the role of "Daddy". None of them need that. But.. It would be nice for your son to have a relationship with you. Even if it's only superficial. He doesn't need you coming in offering fatherly advice and guidance. He's doing OK without that. But just knowing you. Knowing a bit about your life now is what he's looking for. I think that's the very least you owe him at this stage.

    Good luck with it. The easy thing to do is turn your back. You've done it before without a second thought. Try the tougher path this time. It won't be easy, but you might find that it helps you to eventually feel better about yourself.


  • Registered Users Posts: 557 ✭✭✭Sonic the Shaghog


    To be honest one thing I'll say is if you do eventually realize you're not bothered with him I would disagree with the posters saying you can't abandon him again and need to be there for him.

    It will be far more damaging for him trying to maintain a relationship with someone that can't be arsed with him.

    Take your time, baby steps, just chat with him, but like refusing to meet his mother, don't get massively involved until you know your own mind.

    I'd agree with engaging with a therapist or counselor. See is it the guilt that's making you put up a wall or do you genuinely not want to be bothered.

    It's nice and all to say step up or get some counseling and all will work out but unfortunately sometimes we are just selfish and as I said if you realize you just have no interest it might do him and in turn his family more harm than good.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,023 ✭✭✭Gruffalux


    This story is very sad because of some of the things you have said about the boy. Makes me sad for him. Angry that he turned out well - that part especially. I just cannot understand that.

    Thing about children is they will often love their parent more than they deserve simply because they have an archetypal place in their being. Your son loves you. Just because you are his father.

    I do know a man who was careless about his son. The son kept reaching out. For years. The father often would not respond. It was cruel. The son inherited a lot of money and suddenly the father was in regular contact. But the son loves his Dad and does not pin bad motive on him. That is the heart breaking goodness in the boy. These are the everyday tragedies.

    At the end of your life this offer of contact and interest and affection may be the best thing that ever happened all your days. To have another human being feel real love for one is rare enough. Someone who actually cares especially about you from all the teeming millions.

    Other than that I agree with Bag of Chips advice.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,394 ✭✭✭ManOfMystery


    What is it you want out of this situation?

    You said you spoke to him last night, but you see yourself like an older brother and don't want to be his Dad. And you have feelings of anger.

    You are his biological father, like it or not. And despite the years of abandonment he had (I don't use that word to be harsh, but let's be honest, that's what it was) he seems to harbour no ill-will and has reached out to you. I think at this point it's only fair that you be clear in your motives going forward. He's had a lot to deal with, and it would be cruel if you went into this half-hearted or with a chance that you might just decide weeks or months down the line that late fatherhood isn't for you either.

    I doubt very much that he is looking for a 'brother'. But he probably wants to find out who his father is, what his father is like and so on - because let's face it, we all want to know where we come from. Not in a geographical sense, but in a sense of family and bloodlines. And because most of us who grew up in unbroken families take that knowledge quite for granted , it's hard sometimes to appreciate the the hole that can be left in the life of those who have a parent (or parents) that decide to step away from them before they're even old enough to know them.

    I would caution that you think very hard & carefully about this - life is short, and you have a golden opportunity now to build something of a relationship with your son that may not come around again. There is no point deciding to do this when you're an old man and perhaps not as concerned about your freedoms & lifestyle, and he's moved on with his life by that point. There is a lot of good that could come out of this, for both of you. The fact that he seems to be a well adjusted young man with no inherent bitterness towards you is a huge bonus that many men in your position would not get to enjoy.


  • Registered Users Posts: 897 ✭✭✭mikep


    I let him down since day one can’t let him down again but I never asked for him to come back. I’m angry he did, angry he turned out so well, angry he’s not more angry with me, angry at his mam for not being angry.

    I don’t know what I’m asking. I’m not cut out for this.

    Looking at this I think you should go talk to a counsellor and maybe tell your son you are doing so to help deal with all this..

    From what you have said about your son and his mother, they seem keen and open to having you involved so go for it but get help if you need it...

    Best of luck!


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,710 ✭✭✭sporina


    sounds like its your feelings your scared of.. as others have said, maybe you should talk to a professional...

    your Son wants to get to know you... he came looking for you.. he's obv not looking for your money - and he obv has no anger towards you...

    you wer happy to meet him till your mate brought up those feelings of guilt in you - well they are there now - go work on them - you might regret it if you don't..

    look at it this way - you let your son down once - don't do it again...

    wondering if this is related to your relationship wit your own father? you don't have to answer to that here - maybe think about it.. but this is all v heavy stuff.. you should get some help with it - but i hope you do it - twud be worth is.. imagine, if your Son gets married.. has kids - wudn't you wanna know your grankids? you don't wanna die regretting this.. go for it... you came on here for a reason.. and that took courage... you have the courage to do the right thing..

    i wish you the very best of luck x


  • Registered Users Posts: 12,901 ✭✭✭✭Purple Mountain


    To be honest one thing I'll say is if you do eventually realize you're not bothered with him I would disagree with the posters saying you can't abandon him again and need to be there for him.

    It will be far more damaging for him trying to maintain a relationship with someone that can't be arsed with him.

    Take your time, baby steps, just chat with him, but like refusing to meet his mother, don't get massively involved until you know your own mind.

    This 100%.

    To thine own self be true



  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 158 ✭✭Zebrag


    I have a 22 year old son….great lad. I wasn’t in his life growing up. I left before he was born. I didn’t support him even when things were good for me and bad for them. I said if his mother wanted a baby it was her problem. I know they suffered a lot of hardship while my life was good. He reached out to me 2 years ago said he wanted to get to know me. No anger or judgement. It was great. His mother encouraged the relationship and said what happened is in the past. I know I don’t deserve this.
    I haven’t seen him since the lockdowns but we stayed in touch on the phone. Things were good. We were planning a holiday. I told a work mate, more a friend, about him at Christmas. He was shocked I never mentioned him before. I told him the story. He was angry with me, said I let the boy down. I did. I wasn’t there. I should have been there but I had too much living to do. It’s no excuse. At 22 what is the point now, he has his mam. She got married recently. He has a dad. I haven’t spoken to him since Christmas. Workmate says I should be ashamed of myself letting him down again. I let him down since day one can’t let him down again but I never asked for him to come back. I’m angry he did, angry he turned out so well, angry he’s not more angry with me, angry at his mam for not being angry.

    I don’t know what I’m asking. I’m not cut out for this.

    My "father" did this with me. Kept in contact. Didn't tell many people about me and then waddled in and out because some days he was in the humour for being a parent and other days he wasn't bothered. This messed me up. It's the rejection moreso than the actual father figure. It's the not knowing when he's going to bother and whether I should continue. In the end I was the one that stopped speaking to him and he kept trying to come back with his tails between his legs.
    I haven't spoken to him in over 7 years and I refuse to allow him to decided when HE can speak to me. He choose to not be there when I was growing up and when he decided I was old enough and he doesn't have any responsibilities, he gave me a sorry story and how it was everyone else's fault.
    No.
    Your son will eventually stop caring about you and what you do. I don't say this easily but he will eventually realise that this relationship you have, if that's what you want to call it, is simply a nothing relationship.
    Your issue doesn't lie with your son or his mother. Your issue lies with the fact that you can't be consistent and you refuse to allow a relationship to develop. Would it be jealousy that you choose not to be involved in his life growing up? Would it be possible that when he was first born you decided you didn't want the responsibility?
    Those are the questions and answers you have for yourself but regardless of how well off or down the dumps you were, non of this is your sons problems or issues and any anger you have towards yourself shouldn't be directed at the fact that you can't keep a consistent relationship with your son.

    You had too much living to do? Well off you go and keep living without your son so. He has his mother who has brought him up and fair play to her. Like you said, his mother has married and he's got a father figure.
    If you can't be consistent then don't bother
    This problem lies with you and doesn't lie with a son who wanted to know who his father is. You're making excuses. Stop. You're a grown man who clearly had a life to live and so did your son. Accept what has happened and move on with your son or wallow. It's up to you but the worst thing you can do is ignore your own child because your ego won't allow you to accept the fact that his life has been carried on without, regardless if it was good or not
    This is my from experience and I express greatly that you're doing no one any favours.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,529 ✭✭✭karlitob


    I have a 22 year old son….great lad. I wasn’t in his life growing up. I left before he was born. I didn’t support him even when things were good for me and bad for them. I said if his mother wanted a baby it was her problem. I know they suffered a lot of hardship while my life was good. He reached out to me 2 years ago said he wanted to get to know me. No anger or judgement. It was great. His mother encouraged the relationship and said what happened is in the past. I know I don’t deserve this.
    I haven’t seen him since the lockdowns but we stayed in touch on the phone. Things were good. We were planning a holiday. I told a work mate, more a friend, about him at Christmas. He was shocked I never mentioned him before. I told him the story. He was angry with me, said I let the boy down. I did. I wasn’t there. I should have been there but I had too much living to do. It’s no excuse. At 22 what is the point now, he has his mam. She got married recently. He has a dad. I haven’t spoken to him since Christmas. Workmate says I should be ashamed of myself letting him down again. I let him down since day one can’t let him down again but I never asked for him to come back. I’m angry he did, angry he turned out so well, angry he’s not more angry with me, angry at his mam for not being angry.

    I don’t know what I’m asking. I’m not cut out for this.

    Tell your work mate to shag off, that it’s none of his business, and you don’t know need to be any sort of moral adjudicator of you.

    Speak to your son and ask him what sort of relationship he would like with you AT THE MOMENT. Things can and will change. He’ll likely get a job and a partner and kids etc. so he might not have as much time in the future or he might want to have a different relationship with you. Or none at all. The figure out what sort of relationship you want with him - that’s not easy to figure out.

    Stay in the now, enjoy your time with him and be thankful that you have the opportunity.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 12,449 ✭✭✭✭pwurple


    Good for you keeping in touch.

    Keep talking to your work buddy about it too. Seems to have a decent moral compass at least.


  • Registered Users Posts: 166,026 ✭✭✭✭LegacyUser


    The friend at work is a long time friend. My closest friend. I know him over 15 years and I trust him to give it to me straight. He is just saying what he thinks. He is saying what everyone will think. I have told my son to give me some space for next few weeks. I need to think about this some more. I will be judged by everyone who knows me for what I did. My own family do not even know about the boy or my other friends. Everyone will think I am the bad guy and I am not able for that. I have a good life and when things are normal I am able to travel and spend time on leisure activities and that will be difficult now that he might expect me to stick around here or bring him with me. He is in college and has plans to study abroad and I feel that might mean he expects me to pay some of that. His mother is not rich and will struggle so it will fall to me to step in. I know how this goes. I sometimes wish he had never contacted me and I am thinking that more and more over the last few weeks. I like the lad but I am not able to be who he wants me to be.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,078 ✭✭✭BnB


    The friend at work is a long time friend. My closest friend. I know him over 15 years and I trust him to give it to me straight. He is just saying what he thinks. He is saying what everyone will think. I have told my son to give me some space for next few weeks. I need to think about this some more. I will be judged by everyone who knows me for what I did. My own family do not even know about the boy or my other friends. Everyone will think I am the bad guy and I am not able for that. I have a good life and when things are normal I am able to travel and spend time on leisure activities and that will be difficult now that he might expect me to stick around here or bring him with me. He is in college and has plans to study abroad and I feel that might mean he expects me to pay some of that. His mother is not rich and will struggle so it will fall to me to step in. I know how this goes. I sometimes wish he had never contacted me and I am thinking that more and more over the last few weeks. I like the lad but I am not able to be who he wants me to be.

    Send your son a link to this post and that will solve your problem.


This discussion has been closed.
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