Should I Help Raise a Child I Didn’t Want?

Saturday, Feb. 25th 2012 11:26 PM

Whether to have children is a very big (and very personal) decision, one without a right or wrong answer. Deciding whether to take that plunge is easy for some and harder for others, but it can really get complicated when factoring a partner’s desires into the equation. For couples with differing desires, striking a compromise (or not) on such a life-changing decision can tear a marriage apart – or cause its participants to get creative.


I recently received the following from a reader:

In a recent blog, I featured the following question from a reader:

I have a friend whose husband did not want children. However, she pushed and pushed, and threatened divorce, and he gave in. Now, they are parents, and he’s not attentive with the baby. My friend is really upset. She thought the child (once here) would change him. I bite my tongue to keep from saying, “But you knew he didn’t want kids. What did you expect?” This is an issue I’ve seen in several relationships – one person wants kids and the other doesn’t. I hate seeing them both unhappy but I don’t know if anything can be done about it now. Your thoughts?

In the original blog, I addressed the wife/mother in question. This is my advice to the husband/father:

It sounds as though you and your wife have found a unique way to negotiate, even if one or both of you is unhappy with the current state of affairs. It also seems like you care for each other. She was comfortable enough with you to want to create a child with you. And you were willing to conceive a child, even though you did not initially want one. Your partnership is worth commending.

If your relationship with your wife is important to you, and the baby is important to your wife, then your self-interests are on the table where the child is concerned. To keep her (if that is your desire), you may have to become more involved with the parenting. That all depends on what you and your wife are willing to negotiate from here on out. But at the end of the day, in order to be a Powerful Person in a Partnership, you must first consider what you want and what you’re willing to give (or do) to get it.

You took a significant step with your partner by conceiving a child. Even if only through a bloodline, you are now a father for life. You do, however, get to choose how entrenched in the raising of this child you would like to be. You could walk out the door tonight and never see your wife or child again. You could also choose to co-parent (which sounds like what your wife wants). Or, if she is willing, you could live together and allow her to handle the child-rearing completely.

I am not one to say that any of the aforementioned solutions are right or wrong. I believe all three of you can enjoy exceptional lives either way, depending on what you each choose to make of the situation. Furthermore, any reason(s) you have for not wanting to be an active parent are reasonable and worth respecting. I would, however, like to share my perspective as a father of four children – two boys and two girls – who enjoys every minute of raising them, even when it isn’t easy…and it rarely is. But I get an immeasurable amount of satisfaction from watching them grow, acquire new skills, and experience new things.

I treasure the wildly-different conversations and special relationships that I have with each of my unique children. My oldest is a genius who never ceases to amaze me. My second-born is an actor and already a lady’s man. My younger son is independent and as stubborn as both of his parents, collectively. And my youngest is not even two years old and already informing us of her plans to take over the world. They make me laugh, cry, hope, think and enjoy my life in ways that I don’t think I would without them.

Based on my own positive experience as a father (admittedly something I have always wanted to do), I suggest that you consider whether you would find these experiences valuable, should you decide to raise your child. You might discover that you want to be a co-parent with your wife, and there’s no way to know for sure unless you give it a shot. However, as much as I enjoy my children, I also understand that there are people out there with children who don’t like parenting. And there’s no shame in that. If this is not for you, accept that about yourself. Do not beat yourself up, and don’t allow anyone else to do so either.

Of course, there may come a time when you have to answer to your child. If you and your wife stay together, or if you have some other role in the baby’s life, he/she may someday ask why you seem removed from the parenting. In this case, I suggest opting for diplomacy, not rehashing the past. Your answer could be as simple as “I am sincerely trying to do what I think is best for all of us.” I believe that you are.

There may also come a day when your child finds another “father figure.” Try curbing any jealousy or anger that arises, should this occur. We all have wants and desires. As you wish to be respected for your child-rearing decision(s), respect your child’s needs and desires as well.

Continue to flourish in the beautiful family you have created. Keep writing and re-writing your script as you go along, and have no regrets.

Keep Rising,

Frank Love

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Leave a Comment: Let Us Know Your Thoughts

How to Gracefully Exit a Relationship

34 Comments on “Should I Help Raise a Child I Didn’t Want?”

  1. Susan Berg Says:

    Depends. If it is your child, yes, to the best of your ability. Perhaps knowing that this impressionable child will be impacted for the rest of their life on whether or not you wanted them will be motivation enough to give it your best shot. (Unless you are a practicing addict with no interest in recovery, in which case it would probably be healthier to stay away because the addiction will come first anyway.)
    If it is a stepchild, do not marry the woman if you have absolutely no interest in helping her raise her child. It will only add stress to the mother and the child and make for a rough family life.
    Just my opinion and I look forward to hearing from others.

  2. Marvin Claude Coble Says:


  3. Razi Ghaemmagham Farahani Says:

    “given in” that means agreeing for some reason within time, however, my perception of the issue different which is,

    ,these two individual have conflict within themselves and bringing child into conflict is just avoiding to see what is really going on between themselves. I also believe parents maturity is important and it seems they need time to work on their conflict and process of growth before making a child as excuse for their conflict

  4. Dustin Price Says:

    It is an interesting problem. People who us kids as weapons in their relationship problems bug me. Kids need both parents to do well. I don’t think the child should suffer because mommy and daddy have issues. That said the way a parent cares for their children can vary a lot and still be helpful.

  5. Luther Kanpur Says:

    Razi is humanly practical, as an experienced ( psychologist/ Counselor) guide to those seeking approval /suggestions on their actions or thought process.
    How ever as to Frank it seems he is too self obsessed to take it for granted that his experience is the ultimate, for he vociferously renders inferences in general for all of his (personal) experiences. Even ‘How to exit a relationship……….’ is also the same he is deciding every thing on his own and as per his vision & authority.

  6. Marguerite Tennier, M.A. Says:

    Step up to the plate – you agreed, so put your selfish interests aside, and learn to be a good parent. That child deserves no less.

  7. Charles Freeman, Ph.D., L.P. Says:

    Wow! That is powerfully written Frank. I like the language you used very much.


  8. Ron Battle Says:


  9. Marjorie (Margie) Campaigne Says:

    This may be another “inconvenient” truth. Presumably someone raised the father in question. What would he think about not having a father himself? Should he open his heart (and mind) to his progeny? I think so.

  10. Elder E. LaVerne Braxton-Thomas Says:

    First of all, for the individual who stated :take the calf with the cow,” this is an inappropriate, sexiest statement that should not belong here. Women are not “cows,” and theirs offsprings are not calves. The reference is insulting.

    As to the young couple: Children are God’s blessing to man. They are not weapons or consolations prizes to satisfy the needs of one spouse over the other. God is love, and this child is a gift and blessing from Him. You have been charged with loving, caring, guiding, teaching, and bring up this child in the proper way that God intended. Once a child is born — it is not about YOU anymore. It’s all about taking care of the precious gift that has been bestowed upon you. I don’t know if you serve God, but either way your actions throughout your life will come back to haunt you as you get older. Ask anyone who has lived a full life, they will share their sorrows with you. You do reap what you sow. Please sow the love of God in your heart — both of you.

  11. Jerry Kennebrew MBA IFPO Says:

    Without a doubt, yes. Even though you did not want to be a parent, you went through the motions of conception. Now the child is here and it is your responsibility to raise the child the best you can even if you if split up you still have to raise the child.

  12. S. David Aardappel Says:

    I started working with children about forty-three years ago, and aside from poverty and prejudice, one of the most destructive forces against children is indifferent parenting. Children are sharp and know when they’re liked and when they aren’t. As they get older they usually wonder about an absent father, “Why didn’t he want me?” I may sound biased but asking the question after conception is a little late, Kids deserve better. Just my two cents worth…

  13. Lisa "Elissa" Bentsen Says:

    Consider this, maybe this child picked you! We all have something to learn from our children as they do from us. Often souls choose to join us in body during our current incarnation to work out karma or provide us with love, support, joy or challenge us in some way that raises our soul’s vibration. If you’ve every talked to the parents of Down Syndrome children who opted to continue a pregnancy even though they knew in advance their child would be DS, they will tell you how much joy and love these children bring into a family. Who knows if an unplanned pregancy could produce a child who saves the world or just a parent who was reluctant to committ to raising him or her. Since there are no mistakes in spirit guided lives, the answer to your questions is…yes..raise any child given to you. But do it with love.

  14. Jacqueline M. walters Says:

    Frank step back and look into the future, no one knows what lies ahead that same child that you reject today could bring happiness, peace and love to your life when you need it the most. Look upon and embrace the child a changing, growing human being who needs love, guidance and someone to lean on.

  15. Massander Says:

    Classic case of leaping and then looking. These matters should have been negotiated before having kids. Now that the kid is here, I think you should negotiate anyway. Come to an agreement that can work for both of you, even if the agreement is to part. You are also prime candidates for marital counsel. Seek it so you can improve your communication and get support in creating a relationship that feels good to you both.

  16. Andrew Van Dyke MA, LPC, CGP Says:

    A father’s love and acceptance are key elements to the development of a person’s sense of worth in the family, community, and world. If you can not provide that for your child, I hope you get out of the way for someone who is willing to provide these basic and fundamental needs.

  17. Franklin Erder Says:

    Well, should you have a child if it’s not what you want in the first place ?? Come on ! Mariage and parenthood is about sharing the same convictions, goals, for life. You don’t get into parenthood to avoid breaking up or divorcing. You don’t marry someone with a child if you don’t stongly want to be a part of his life, or probably want this child as well as this “significant other” to be the greater part of yours… But maybe it’s just me and I’m too conservative…

  18. Donnie Perry Says:

    What separates us from the animals are our ability to reason. Even animals we have dominion over rarely leave their young when they are vulnerable. As humans we should always have comppassion and responsibility for the consequences of our actions. Be responsible, you don’t want children and the responsibility that comes with them, get a vasectomy. Problem solved.

  19. Dennis Gordon Says:

    Are you serious? If you fathered the child you should definitely take responsibility for helping to raise that child, even if you are no longer with the mother! Alternatively, if you did not father the child but live with the child’s mother, then you have to take responsibility to be a good parent and role model. So, yes,you should help raise the child or find a woman without children.

  20. Neil Douglas-Tubb Says:

    Well I think one of the determining factors is: are you part of the manufacturing process … are the bio/parent to this child … you question implies a lack of maturity … that is not something you over come easily … but what does the child want … does he or she want his mom or dad … now if you are not biologically connected to the child … and the person you are pursuing has a child you can’t stand … then you are competing with the child for you potential partners attention and that is abuse on your end of things … I think Marguerite hit the nail on the head … but in everything there is complexities and you sir have to have a deep look inside and see what your injured child needs … this could be an opportunity for you to see blind spots in you past. the essence of the change and recovery process is the absolute necessity of see what you have been blind to for most of your life … and it sounds like this child is giving you or who ever an opportunity to deal with their past …

  21. Mary Ann Gdula R.N.,Ph.D.,C.A.S. Says:

    i am so sorry for all the little ones who come into this world as a result of their parents’ manipulations.

  22. Elizabeth Francis Says:

    I agree Lisa, since I follow the mindset that we all choose our lives before we are born, except for the issue of children, that we all choose our parents, our parents do not choose us. However, free will of the individual over rides everything. So I sense the question is “why do I not want children?” needs to be answered first. However the fact that you are asking whether you wish to raise a child in the first place is a very good indicator that you would be a very good parent and thus receive the gifts only parenthood can provide. The fact that these gifts come in various emotional formats. learning curves, joys, happiness and satisfaction as well as the fear, heartbreak and worry is all part of the process.

  23. Yvette Thomas Says:

    I think everyone should take responsibility for taking care of the child however one mistake that women make is we don’t always listen and usually when a man says something that is what they mean. It is not the child’s fault that the parents failed to EFFECTIVELY listen and communicate. This is a topic that should have been discussed in the beginning, he should have stuck to his position and maybe this could have been avoided. I hope they work it out

  24. Rosedale Jones Says:

    I just hope the child is not born yet before one asks that question!

  25. Franklin Erder Says:

    I think what you told this man is definitely worthy and reflection oriented. And in a very positive way, and I like that. This being said, as you write it : “But at the end of the day, in order to be a Powerful Person in a Partnership, you must first consider what you want and what you’re willing to give (or do) to get it.”
    Building a relationship onto forcing a child into the equation ?
    I’m sorry my reply was more general, as I don’t know anything about this precise case except for reading you. So I’ll dig it a little bit more :
    For what I’ve read, this man have been weak, or trapped and what he wanted was not a child. And that woman forced him into parenthood, either by threatening him or trapping him. And you don’t know for sure what happened, because he or she isn’t your direct contact, it’s a friend who reported the situation. And even if you had direct contact, you would probably wish for a systemic view/approach, because people can tell half truth, sometime. But I know you know and reality is tangled.
    In my experience, if you love someone, you don’t want to push him or her into something that is not desired, because it will ultimately lead to anger and resentment. This being said, you nailed it ” consider what you want” I would add, consider what you don’t want. And act in regard of that.
    By the way, I dig your blog !

  26. Elizabeth Francis Says:

    I sense something important is happening here for you to get such a varied response. Looks like the question you posted is work as a catalyst Frank so the true issue need can be raised by us women. Perhaps we have gone to the core of an issue of yours that you may not even know existed and if you do know then it may be time for you to revisit it, despite the fact you may consider our responses have nothing to do with the article. Spirit works in mysterious ways.

  27. John Robinson Says:

    Since God never makes mistakes and we often do as humans; in my opinion the answer is YES! Having the option of being a positive or negative influence on a child is one of the greatest decision many Black men deal with in our society. Regardless of your own personal decision in wanting or not wanting the child, once the woman has made a choice, your thought process must change. If it was okay to have sex with that woman then the possibility that a pregnancy was possible. It’s to late to “pull out” now.

  28. Ron Calhoun Says:

    My mothers father didn’t thing so. a@@hole.

  29. Marilyn Walker Says:

    Apparently in this scenario the husband agreed to father a child – not to parent one. It would seem in his wife’s coercion perhaps he didn’t realize there would be more to it than sex without protection. Or perhaps he didn’t make his intended level of participation clear to his wife. In either case I think it is sad for all of the participants – but especially for the child who unwittingly is part of the manipulations of his or her parents. Maybe a bigger question is “should I help raise a child I chose to father?” It would be hard for me to find a justification for saying, “no.” That being said, I do agree that any scenario you cited could have a positive outcome. But do these parents have what it takes to facilitate a positive outcome, no matter what the father’s involvement?

    It also reminded me of the old saying … “Women get married thinking the man will change, and men get married thinking the woman won’t. And they’re both wrong.”

  30. Psychic Hecate Says:

    Although I agree with you Lisa, on many of the points you made after reading the article I could only think of the child and how bad it is for them to be ignored or to be shown little interest by the father. I mean it is hardly the child’s fault that the father didn’t want a child before hand. If he was so against having children then he should just have said ‘no’, or tried a compromise of waiting and then having a child with his wife when he was more ready.

    A child deserves the love and the care of two parents after all the child is not the one forcing either parent to a decision. I think both the husband and wife in this case are both selfish and only thinking about their own wants, needs and desires.

  31. Rhonda Ellifritz Says:

    If you hear the words coming out of his mouth, then it is harmful to the child. Rejection is very damaging for a child, whatever the form it takes. More often than your hypothetical situation I see in my practice a dad who “doesn’t care” has been placed in a no win situation with the child. Mom, in an effort to align the child with her, tells them that dad doesn’t really care. There are moms who do this because they are hurt, but some do so to get a large portion of visitation which translates to more money for child support, I am sad to say. If I have a client that I sense is going that way, we have a long talk about the long term consequences on their child. Money can be made other ways, and once the child is broken because they feel rejected, it is hard to fix.

  32. Age E. Smies CD, QMed, AccFM, CPMed Says:

    The question is could the child suffer when h/she feels the dad doesn’t really want to be involved. I strongly believe that one loving parent is to be preferred over a pretend loving parent and one who truly loves. Should the non lover pay? You are darn right he should.

  33. Jessica Rios Says:

    I think one has to be responsible for its actions. A child doesn’t ask to come to this world. If it was a mistake, than learn from them, grow up, deal with it, find a solution, and next time, think twice before doing something. It’s not fair for kids to grow up with one or no parents. Not being wanted by people hurts and is hard to deal, but not being wanted by our own parents.. I have not words to describe how terrible that must feel.

  34. Carol Ferguson Says:

    Yes Rhonda. I did not tell my children their father didn’t care. Even so, they figured it out and it was hard for them to accept for many years.

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