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Fatherless ds, at an disadvantage?

(27 Posts)
Iloveyoutilltheend Wed 27-Jan-16 20:59:00

I divorced abusive ex DH when DS was 5. I certainly don't regret it. My DS is 19 now and in his 1st year at university so am I even a Mum anymore? Not sure. Anyway I am a bit wistful of all we have been through. I sometimes tear up when I see other young men of his age or younger bonding with their Dads. If I say so myself DS is such a loving kind and sweetnatured young man if a little shy. I just think now, did he suffer by not having a Dad. He would have had a crap one anyway of course but I mean a proper one. I can't of course relate to being a man not boy but sometimes I think it did him good. He's always been very kindhearted and considerate to women especially, very feminist and won't tolerate his friends being sexist I think and I wonder if the EA he saw as a small boy made him this way. Then I get sad and think is he shy because I deprived him of a Dad? I don't know

HormonalHeap Wed 27-Jan-16 21:05:13

Sounds like you've done an amazing job. From what I understand, shyness is an inherited trait, I don't think it has anything to do with having a dad or not. Just think how he would have turned out living long term with your abusive ex! I think you e answered your own question, saying how loving and kind he is. One of our friends was brought up by his mum alone and is the best, most involved dad I've ever metsmile

Iloveyoutilltheend Wed 27-Jan-16 22:12:48

It is true he would have been damaged being surrounded by the ex. Just you see people sometimes and wonder did he miss out.

ExitPursuedByABear Wed 27-Jan-16 22:15:08

We are what we are. Try to celebrate the lovely young man he is rather than dwell on what might have been.

QuiteLikely5 Wed 27-Jan-16 22:18:37

If his father was a great father but absent then yes he has missed out but if his father was a terrible father then he has not missed out!

Be thankful for your son. And look forward not back!

Tutt Wed 27-Jan-16 22:18:59

Firstly you sound amazing and have done a fantastic job.
I would like to think that they don't miss out on something they never knew.
My DS is the same and same age, shy, quiet etc and like you I'd of loved for things to have been different for him but they weren't and did they best I could just like you OP.
My DS's sperm person would have destroyed my DS's life!
I do find it hard when I see boys and their Dads having fun, going out together etc.
Hopefully they aren't at all disadvantaged but advantaged in other ways.

scarednoob Wed 27-Jan-16 22:21:54

Of course you are still a mum! You will be his mum when he's 100.

You can't change what has happened. You did your best with what you had, and it sounds like you did a brilliant job. And if your DS had had a different dad, he wouldn't be him.

UnderTheGreenwoodTree Wed 27-Jan-16 23:01:47

You did him the best favour ever taking him away from an abusive Dad thanks You may never know how much, he will hopefully never jnow - but you did him enormous good. An abusive father is no good to anyone.

heyday Thu 28-Jan-16 00:13:15

I look at my gorgeous little grandson (aged 4 who frequently misses his dad) and I could weep because he doesn't have a decent man as a father. Does he miss out? Oh yes, without a doubt. Children generally have much better life chances and opportunities by having two parents as long as those parents love and genuinely care for their children and that they are decent human beings. Whilst my little GS misses out enormously by not having a father around, his enforced absence is the only hope the little boy has. His 'dear' father thinks it's perfectly acceptable to do drugs, beat up women and not pay a penny in upkeep for the endless children he keeps producing. He thought it was just fine to have my 17 year old daughter on the floor with a knife at her throat whilst she was carrying his child. Good fathers are priceless, useless, violent ones can destroy a child's life. Your son has turned out brilliantly, just be thankful and try not to dwell too much on something that you simply cannot change.

BertrandRussell Thu 28-Jan-16 00:15:54

"My DS is 19 now and in his 1st year at university so am I even a Mum anymore? "
Oh yes you are! And will be forever!

Iloveyoutilltheend Thu 28-Jan-16 06:22:44

Some of these responses made me tear up, in a good way. DS went to an all boys school mainly because they were the best (and free) option around and I have to admit at times all the talk of "raising men" and strong male role models bewildered me. It's true the messages he would have got about well everything particularly how to treat women would have been bad ones. I was hoping he'd start being more confident when at university but he is still shy.

bibliomania Thu 28-Jan-16 10:58:40

Sounds like you've done brilliantly. Don't torment yourself by comparing actual life to the fantasy "If things had gone perfectly and he'd had a wonderful dad..." version. Life can never live up to the fantasy version.

Your son sounds fab. Well done.

ArcheryAnnie Thu 28-Jan-16 11:21:07

Oh, OP, you sound like you've done a fantastic job. And yes, you are still a mum and will still be a mum when he's 59, nevermind 19!)

Children thrive when they have adults around who love them and care for them and provide them with good role models. For many children that's a mum and dad, for others it's a mum and friends, or all sorts of other combinations. The need there is for that love, that care and those role models, and that's what you have provided, and it worked.

I had a dad in my life and he was terrible - me and my siblings would have been a great deal better off if he's swanned off when we are all little. I cannot tell you how many times I wished he'd left, rather than staying to make all our childhoods a misery - and it's stayed with us for our adulthoods, too. You spared your son that. Please be a bit kinder on yourself, and believe that you have done the best for him.

PoundingTheStreets Thu 28-Jan-16 11:29:30

Yes, you'll always be his mum, and no, he's not at a disadvantage.

There are so many misconceptions about what constitutes the ideal environment to raise children, and I am very tired by the idea that one man, one woman is best. It's one of the ways and the easiest, simplest way to create that ideal environment in today's society, but it is not the only way.

What children need is a loving, nurturing environment where there physical and psychological needs are met; where they are encouraged to develop and to take (carefully controlled) risks to achieve their full potential; where they do not see lack of success as failure, only a learning opportunity, and where they are cherished for who they are, faults and all. Role models are an important part of this, because they show a child a whole other world available to them, and embody all these lofty ideals in a real person - they are the application of the theory if you like.

IMO it really doesn't matter whether those role models are male or female. That's tired old crap trotted out by the idea fathers are the last line in discipline; that a male child needs to see a male adult being the breadwinner/playing with his DC in order to internalise the idea that this is what males do. As someone who passionately believes that men and women can do the exact same things with the exception of gestation and lactation, I don't need my DS to see a man contributing to housework in order to raise a male child who sees it as his responsibility to contribute to housework. This is because he will be raised to see it as every person's responsibility - irrespective of gender - to contribute to housework. To my mind, gender is very much secondary to all the other human characteristics and traits such as fairness, decency, personal responsibility, self discipline, hard work, co-operation etc should be very much gender blind. And I, as a mother, am just as capable of fostering those in my DC as any father is. To say different is to say that same-sex families are inferior.

The reason we hold up two-parent families as 'better' is mainly because the more adults who are that heavily invested in a child, the better. A report by The Children's Society concluded that the ideal for a child was actually an extended family because of the amount of positive relationships available to a child and the safety-net it affords (child abuse is less prevalent in extended families for example as other adults are unwittingly safeguarding). That doesn't work well with today's society where people move in search of work, etc, so we've elevated the ideal of the heteronormative nuclear family. And where it works, it works great. It's not to be sneered at.

But it often doesn't work. IMO a happy, stable single-parent family is far, far healthier for a child than a two-parent family where there is an unhappy family dynamic, let alone one in which domestic abuse may feature.

The reason that outcomes for single parent families are worse than those of two-parent families are nowhere near as straightforward as many like to believe. One of the factors is blindingly obvious - the reasons that led to the relationship breakdown in the first place! As an example, abuse features more highly in the history of single parents than it does in the general population (busting the myth that women stay; they actually leave and then get punished for it). Or there may have been gambling issues, an affair that led to one party being largely absent, or someone may have lost their job, etc. These will all affect the child regardless of whether the parents stay together or split. But we examine the effects less in families where the parents stay together and choose to focus on single parents.

Furthermore, once you control for poverty, the differences between single parents and two-parent families are actually negligible. And even in families where there is poverty, if the primary carer (usually mum, as is the case in 90% of LP families) has been well educated, even the negative effects of poverty are cancelled out. But it is, of course, far easier to demonise single parent families than it is to accept that maybe we should be doing more to ensure single parents aren't left in poverty - such as maintenance should be considered a god-given right, not a bonus if you manage to get any (let alone a reasonable amount), or making childcare more accessible and affordable, or trying to do more to ensure children from poorer backgrounds don't fall foul of the postcode lottery when it comes to schools and poverty of aspiration.

The world has changed. We know that children need stability, love, education and money in order to reach their full potential. When we accept that there are many ways to achieve this - well-supported single parents, traditional nuclear families, same-sex-parent families, extended families - and stop trying to apply a one-size-fits-all approach, I think we'll have a far happier society.

bibliomania Thu 28-Jan-16 12:13:52

applauds Pounding

VivaHate Thu 28-Jan-16 13:32:38

Your boy sounds like he could be my husband 10 years ago!

He's met his dad once. Raised by mum, granny, aunties. He's the most rounded, considerate, loving, wonderful man I've ever met. He is very close to his family and speaks to his mum every day. It's lovely.

He has never once felt like he missed out by his dad not being around. He (and his identical twin) grew up surrounded by love. They both went to top universities and now have fantastic careers. Like your son he was once very shy but in recent years his confidence has blossomed.

Sounds like you've done an amazing job with your boy and set him up for a wonderful life! And you'll ALWAYS be his mum!

VoyageOfDad Thu 28-Jan-16 13:59:22

OP , I grew up with a mum and dad. My dad worked hard but we didn't ( my brother and I ) see a great deal of him as if he wasn't working he was playing golf, watching sport on the telly or mowing the lawn.

He had a tough childhood himself so I'm inclined to cut some slack.

Subsequently my mum, bless her, did almost all the parenting.

Now I think I'm very much on the empathic sensitive shy side of things . I was never into the ruff and tumble side of maleness and am generally for want of a better term, in touch with my feminine side. Which I think is very positive.

And I think the reason is the amount of exposure I had to mum vs dad. I've seen it male friends who only had a mum too.

I'm determined to show my young dd that men are , can be, sensitive and gentle too.

Jan45 Thu 28-Jan-16 14:13:59

No, especially if dad would have been shit.

I raised my daughter alone, I was very young but had the full support of my family, my dad became her dad/grandad and she had plenty other positive male role models growing up.

I was frowned upon, it was 30 years ago; I never once felt bad about it though cos I knew I was a great mum; I was judged a lot by other friends' parents - I proved them all wrong because my daughter turned out the brightest, kindest, most well adjusted kid on the block - her peers were living with parents shouting and falling out every other day, my daughter had a nice peaceful environment in which to grow and prosper - she is my pride and joy - I could burst with admiration for her.

PoundingTheStreets Thu 28-Jan-16 23:58:59

she is my pride and joy - I could burst with admiration for her.

That is so lovely. smile

expectantmum79 Sat 30-Jan-16 08:00:41

Some lovely posts on this thread.

Your son sounds like a fine young man. I have also raised children alone and worried that around just women they'd be less rounded/socially awkward but I think children take their influences from many places. In their pre school years it's parents but then it becomes, teachers, friends and various others. Being shy is much preferable to other personality traits you could name.xx

Hissy Sat 30-Jan-16 09:12:47

Aw... I can't thank you enough for posting this, I had this exact same thought/big stick to beat myself with, thinking how I'd made such an almighty mess of my life by picking such a twat as a father for my truly inspirational child.

I wished I had thought more of myself and stood up for myself and told his dad to piss off on the first occasion of him being an arse..

Mind you, as a single woman in her (late) 40's I observe how bloody foul so many women are to their partners when out and about, and they have a partner... I don't talk to people like that and I'm single. confused

happyanddappy Sat 30-Jan-16 09:26:44

I don't know about sons and fathers, but I'm a woman who grew up without one (same situation, mother left abuser), and it's given me some positive qualities; resilience, the strength to know that it's unacceptable to treat other people like crap, a closeness to my mother that is fierce, and a grip on the reality of life - things happen beyond our control, life is not always perfect. The situation also made me grow up a bit faster - and be more mature - and I feel okay about all that...your son sounds grand, he will be grand. dont worry.

Iloveyoutilltheend Sat 30-Jan-16 11:07:55

Hissy interesting what you say about seeing people being horrible to their partners. I've observed this too and can't help thinking "look at the way you are together and Me I'm single". I often wonder is it like disappointment with their partners jobs or something?

Hissy Sat 30-Jan-16 11:52:44

I just think that maybe it's familiarity breeding contempt, I see it in other parents FB feeds etc, useless dads making snide comments about their wife's cooking when they can't boil an egg. It sets hideous examples to any kids they have.

I have to stop myself berating myself for seemingly being undatable/unpartnerable despite never having treated any partner of mine (excusing the abusive ex at the end of our relationship) like something I'd stepped in.

The young woman I saw in the supermarket the other day spoke to her boyf like shit because he'd not taken the basket with him.

It was all I Could do not to say something. It was her fecking basket too...

Hissy Sat 30-Jan-16 11:55:19

Your son sounds amazing. You sound like a truly fab mum. He's lucky to have you.

I'm so heartened and moved that the young men here on this thread have turned out so well. It does help.

Are they able to form decent relationships? Is that hard when they have not seen healthy relationships modelled?

I am trying to date, but so many are single for so many reasons...

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