Dear Annie: My now-ex-husband and I got married and had a baby right after high school. We had a beautiful baby girl, “Sophia.” Caring for a newborn while all my friends were going off to college was challenging, but I would not trade the experience for the world. Sophia is my light and love.
The problem is with her father.
He felt a great deal of resentment at having to care for a baby when he was only 19. He preferred going out with the guys to spending time at home with Sophia and me. The tension and resentment built until one day, he left us, saying it was too much for him. He said he would be going to community college to start over. I was devastated. He didn’t want any major responsibilities, so I was awarded sole custody.
Now Sophia is 5 years old. As hard as it is for me, I know that he is her father, so I allow him to see her when he has time. Last week, he picked her up to go to the movies. She came back with stars in her eyes from getting to spend the afternoon with Daddy. The problem is that she wants to see him every weekend. When I told him this, he said he just doesn’t have the time and can’t commit to every Saturday or even every other Saturday.
I hate to see her so disappointed each Saturday when I have to tell her that Daddy won’t make it today. His inconsistency is breaking her heart. I have allowed him to come and go as he pleases because I don’t want her to have zero relationship with her father. Is this type of inconsistency OK for a child, or should I just cut him off entirely? – Confused Mom
Dear Confused: This man is giving you only crumbs while you and your daughter deserve the whole cake. What he’s doing to Sophia – and to you – is terrible and selfish, and no, this kind of inconsistency is not OK for a child.
It’s time to sit him down for a long, serious heart-to-heart and lay it all out. Express your concerns about the effect his unpredictability is having on your daughter. Ask him whether he could pledge to see Sophia for one Saturday a month without any ifs, ands or buts. That commitment should be small enough even for his stunted sense of responsibility, and your daughter would at least have one Saturday a month that she could safely look forward to.
But also let him know upfront that if he were to stand her up even once, that would be it. Sophia’s little heart deserves to be treasured, not broken.
Dear Annie: I have just read the letter from “Appalled,” who is disgusted by men wearing hats while indoors, along with your response. I strongly suggest that you educate yourselves. My husband is a Vietnam veteran, and like many of those who served in Vietnam, he has photophobia (severe light sensitivity), a condition that increases in severity with age. The jury is still out, after decades, as to whether this condition is caused by exposure to Agent Orange; it is most definitely known to be a symptom of traumatic brain injury. He wears a baseball cap indoors at all times; the only other option is to keep his eyes closed. If your reader and you are so disgusted and appalled by his indoor hat, my suggestion is simple: Don’t look at him. – Donna
Dear Donna: You’re on the mark. I hadn’t considered the medical reasons for why someone might wear a hat indoors. Thank you for writing.
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