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An Open Letter to the Man Who Said My Son Needs A Dad

Dear Man Who Said My Son Needs A Dad,

I know you meant well. You care and you are concerned. You see a young woman raising a young boy all alone and you want to fix it. You want to find a solution that restores all that we lost. I lost a husband and my son lost a father, so you think a man will solve our problems.

I gave a small smile and shrugged while you told me to get out there and start looking for a husband - if not for my sake than at least for the sake of my son. You seemed to think I was being selfish in not looking for a man everywhere I go. I didn't smile because I agreed with you. I smiled because it was easier than speaking up. You didn't ask what I thought and I have a feeling you didn't really want to know.

In the days since our one-sided conversation, I haven't been able to stop thinking about how hurtful your comments were. While your intentions were good, I wish I could go back in time and speak up. If I could, this is what I would say:

I know that my son needs a dad.

Fatherlessness was not my idea. In fact, I prayed for years that God would spare my husband's life. I worked tirelessly to keep him alive. I gave up my own hopes and dreams to do all that I could to extend his life by any means possible. I spent countless hours scheduling doctors appointments, researching medical conditions, restocking his medicines and taking notes in doctor offices. I cared well for my husband. I took his temperature, his blood pressure, and his pulse. I packed wounds, gave shots, and forced him through painful breathing exercises to help his lungs. I cooked heart-healthy meals, spent more money than I care to think about, and adapted our lives to his medical needs. I made phone calls to doctors when he told me not to because I was scared of the consequences if we didn't. I encouraged (and sometimes forced) him to go to the ER, his specialists, counselors and psychiatrists. I prayed for him and over him. I cried and begged God to heal him.

I did it all to keep him alive for myself and for my son. But in the end, I couldn't save his life. God, who ordained every single one of the days of his life before he was born (Psalm 139:16) took my husband from us. God allowed my husband to die. You seem to have a problem with my son not having a father and so do I. This wasn't my choice. It is my worst nightmare. If you are upset about it, you will have to take it up with God.

My son's dad isn't easily replaced.

You spoke as if there are men everywhere I go who are ready and willing to be a husband and father. Not only is that a huge and unrealistic assumption, but you make it seem like I can get my son a new dad as easily as I can replace a pair of shoes that he has outgrown.

My son had a really good dad and their bond will never be replaced by another man who joins our lives. He had a dad who desperately wanted him and cried with joy when he first heard that he would be a father. My son was his daddy's dream come true. He had a dad who eagerly took every child safety, childcare, and childbirth class our little town offered - wanting to prepare as much as he could for son's arrival. He had a dad who wouldn't leave his side in the hospital when he was born and who watched over him every time he was taken to the nursery. He had a dad who could calm him down when his mommy couldn't. A dad who gave the best sink baths and refused to buy anything but the most expensive diapers. He had a dad who prayed over him, sang to him, rocked him to sleep, and snuggled with him every chance he got.

My son had a dad who protected him fiercely even when it cost him greatly. He had a dad who went through terrible physical pain and suffering just to spend more days with him. He had a dad who modeled trusting Jesus in hard times, led him in family devotions every night, and was the best at getting him to sleep when his little mind was full of worries. He had a dad that apologized and asked for forgiveness when he messed up and who modeled humility and repentance.

My son's dad might be in Heaven, but he will always be his dad. If God chooses to bring another man into our lives while my son is still young, I hope that in time they will develop a bond and that my son would see him as a father figure. But that man is not, and would never replace, his dad.

There are worse things than being fatherless.

Over the years, I have spoken with many young adults who lost their fathers at a young age due to death or divorce and they have taught me that there are worse things than being fatherless. Having a mom that dates a bunch of men because she is lonely is worse. Watching a mom lower her standards out of desperation is worse. Being forced to accept a man you barely know as your new father is worse. Having your mom marry someone who isn't ready or interested in the responsibility of raising a family is worse. Having a step dad who abuses you or your mother is worse. Feeling like you are second fiddle to your mom's romantic relationships is worse.

I have never met a young adult who expressed gratitude that their mom rushed into a new relationship in order to provide them with a father. I have met young adults who have had wonderful step fathers that God brought into their families at just the right time, but even those men did not replace the hole left by their dad.

You don't know what I need.

You barely know me. You don't know what I'm processing or what God is doing in my life. You don't know if I am ready to be in a relationship or if I am still healing from the hard parts of my marriage. You have no idea if I've tried dating or if I have reasons to not try dating. You don't know God's plan for my life and you certainly don't know his plan for my son.

Since you don't know what I need, let me tell you.

I need you to remind me that God sees me and has not forsaken me. I need you to tell me that fatherlessness is not too big of an obstacle for the grace of God. I need to be reminded that God has good in store for my son even if that good doesn't include his beloved dad. I need you to remind me that God has a plan when I don't know what it is or where I am going.

Most of all I need you to hold your tongue.

If you can't hold your tongue, please speak encouragement. Tell me you're proud of me. Tell me the wonderful qualities you see in my son that reflect his daddy. Tell me that my Heavenly father will not let me down because He is "father to the fatherless and defender of widows" (Psalm 68:5).

Sir, I know you meant well. But now I hope you know better.


A young widow


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