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Allie's avatar

What do you say to someone you haven't seen in 17 years?

Asked by Allie (17431points) April 24th, 2008

I saw my father recently for the first time since I was 3. He showed up once between then and now (on my 10th birthday), but other than that I haven’t seen or spoken to him.
He asked the usual. How am I? How’s school? How’s my mom?
Would it have been ok to ask him where he went? Why he didn’t keep in touch with me?
It kind of hurt to see him. I felt like I was being left all over again. =[

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25 Answers

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sandymo's avatar

Dear Allie: Try to establish with him a friendship like you would with any new person you meet. I bet he was probably as scared as you were at this new meeting. I think with the right attitude if you ask him nicely he would answer your questions.Don’t feel like he is leaving you all over again…he probably didn;t want to leave but sometimes our lives get complicated and adults do and say things they dont really mean. I am a parent and we all love our kids even at a distance.

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ppcakes's avatar

i could give you the advice i use, just dont talk to him, but you might not be like me. you might want a relationship with him

scamp's avatar

I think it would have been perfectly alright for you to ask those questions. I don’t think it would have surprised him if you did. If you had the time to sit with him while he explained why he wasn’t there for you, you might be able to find some closure. After hearing what he had to say, you could then decide whether or not you wanted a new beginning with him. At this point, it’s up to you to decide if you want to continue seeing him. Is he still around? if he is, don’t feel bad about telling him you have some questions and want to have a talk. But if you don’t want to do this, it’s also ok. The ball is now in your court. I wish you the best, and I hope you get some answers. BTW, what does your Mother have to say about this?

Randy's avatar

I’m like ppcakes. I wouldnt want anything to do with my biological (I hate that word) father. For not being around since mom’s pregnancy, I’d say he’s a sorry piece of shit. I dunno your situation so my advice could be bad.

Personally though, I think you deserve the answers to any questions you might have.

Zack_In_Black's avatar

@Randy: You insulted her Father man.

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Randy's avatar

@Zach In Black, No. If you think I insulted her father, then you read my message wrong, sir. I insulted my sorry sperm doner who dosn’t deserve the right to EVER see or know me. If her situation is anything like mine, I suggest she do the same. I don’t know her dad therefor I cannot insult the man. Please reread my comment and think about it.

@Allie, Please don’t take what I said the wrong way. The last part is probably the Most important for your situation.

emilyrose's avatar

I think if you want a relationship with him you should definitely ask those questions. I have a friend who just reunited with his father and it has had a huge impact on him and has been very positive. You may need to forgive him in order to move on and create something new. In my friend’s case, letting his dad know that he was willing to forgive and move on was the greatest gift his dad had ever received. Good luck.

gailcalled's avatar

Allie; How old are you. You have every right to be enraged, confused and unclear.

Perhaps see a therapist for a few sessions in order to be validated. Of course you are hurt (never mind kind of) and you have the right to ask whatever you want. But it is difficult if you have had no experience in confronting anyone, particularly the man who sired you. Get someone (trained) on your side.

Aside; I find some of these answers incomprehensibly cruel and stupid. Randy’s seemed fine and on point.

richardhenry's avatar

General notice: Please don’t use the anonymity of the Internet in order to post cruel and thoughtless comments. If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, then don’t post it. If you believe you would say it to their face, then you should be sorting out your problems instead of being on Fluther.

@Allie: the questions you mentioned are very valid, and I would think you have every right to ask them. Gailcalled’s suggestion of finding someone to speak to is a good idea and I’m sure it would help you to decide the way forward.

thecoot's avatar

I have a similar experience and hopefully this helps a little bit. Within the last 6 months, I actually came into contact with my father for the first time in 20 years. I actually found him through facebook accidentally, while helping my mother set up an account and helping her find some old classmates.
Now I have never had any contact with him. My parents had me when they were both very young, and their circumstances didnt allow them to stay together past the first 2 years of my life. Mom gave the ultimatum of either being a part of my life wholly or not at all and he wasn’t a part of it at all. My mother married another man soon after, and I knew her husband as my only father up until I was about 10–11. I was very confused and didnt know what to think, as most 5th graders don’t really know how to sort out those kind of feelings. It was something that never was never brought up in the family, and certainly not in front of “step” dad, whom I have never had a close relationship with at all.
Life went on, and as I grew up, I always had new questions about everything and still never really knew how I felt about the whole situation. I told myself that I would at least try to attempt the man, at least for the sake of not having to live my life with the regret of not trying. Whether I was shunned, ignored, or embraced, I had to find out who he was and see what questions I could get answered from him. This was one of my goals to accomplish by 25, I told myself. A project for a rainy day maybe.
Then as fate would have it, as my parents started the initial stages to the beginning of their divorce, I see my father’s profile in front of me on facebook. I sent him a message asking if he was the same man from the graduating class of the high school he went to and that was all. 24 hours later, I get a response from him saying that it is, and that he admired the courage it took to contact him. We had sent a few messages back and forth and then set up a time to call each other. After talking to him for a great length of time, some of my questions got answered without me ever asking them. There was a great deal that he wanted to get off of his chest, I could tell, and I soaked it all in slowly, as to process it all correctly.
Fast forward to today, 6 months from the first contact, and things are going ok. We have formed a great friendship and talk at least once a week. We have met for dinner when he was in town (he lives on the west coast, where as I am mid-westerner) a few times, and we always enjoy each others company. His family has become very open to our friendship, whereas my family hasn’t been so much. It has been a great experience thus far.
So for advice, I would say to approach the situation as trying to establish a friendship more than anything. The questions that you had suggested are good, but I would avoid any questions that put any guilt on the situation. Saying that seeing him hurt may establish a feeling of guilt that may distant him from wanting to pursue future contact. It also depends on the the situation. I made a strong point to insure that I was not after any money, or to vent my frustrations with his absence in my life. All I wanted was to have him be a part of my life from this point on. Your goals may be different.

If you have any more questions or are looking for any more advice Allie, pm me and I will help you the best I can.

marinelife's avatar

There is a lot of good material here to sort through and think about, which is probably what you will want to do in this situation. I think no two situations are ever the same so his story and its impact on your story you will have to discover to your own satisfaction.

If it were me (and I am currently going through an indirectly analogous siutation thinking about reconnecting with some relatives [not a parent though] that have stayed out of contact for many years), I would at least want to ask my questions.

You are entitled to a a whole lot of feelings, anger, sadness, abandonment, bewilderment. He did not even address what must have seemed like an elephant in the room to you—his leaving and why he left—what comes up for me when I think about that is that you need to be very gentle with yourself.

If you choose to talk to a therapist or someone about it, they might be able to give some guidance about protecting yourself when you meet with him and ask your questions. The last thing you need or want is for him to have a chance to hurt you all over again!!

You didn’t say whether you are in contact with your other paternal relatives. Even if you don’t form a permanent bond with him, there might be some value in knowing them or knowing about them. Maybe you have someone’s eyes or someone’s laugh. You are entitled to that sense of continuity and, especially important, to genetic or medical history information.

Good luck with this very serious and complex issue. I hope you get an outcome that gives you closure if not peace.

ninjaxmarc's avatar

don’t be a stranger

Bri_L's avatar

As he felt within his right to do what he did I would suggest it is well within your right to ask whatever you feel you need or want answered. Be prepared however for him to say anything. And I wouldn’t put to much stock in what ever he does say.

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punkrockworld's avatar

Why did they delete my answer?

richardhenry's avatar

[Fluther Moderator:] Your answer was hurtful and received complaints from other users. Respectfully, please re-read the question before posting.

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Seeker767's avatar

I suggest to do what feels best. Use your best intuition, and if you really feel that you want your question(s) answered, I suggest you ask away. But really, do what feels best for you.

JCifaldi's avatar

We are in the same boat here. Its been 24 years since ive spoke with my bio father. Im 26 now.

JeffVader's avatar

After not seeing my dad for 16yrs I simply asked….. “Are you my dad?” Luckily he said yes or I might have sounded a little desperate…

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