ABSENT FATHERS

Women like me, who choose to give birth to a child without first taking a husband, are a minority born of frustration. We are of a generation that believed that a husband, children, a home and a feather duster were standard issue. Yet we stepped into the abyss of adolescence at a time when our contemporaries decided to shrug off the values and standards of responsibility. So we took control of our lives and had children alone, certain we could do the job as well as, or better than Prince Charming and his empty promises.

Yesterday was Father's Day. My 8-year-old daughter brought home the special gifts she'd made at school. A silhouette of herself, mounted on black paper. On the back, her carefully handwritten name, her age and the date. She brought home a card and a "Certificate of Love." The work was sincere and impeccably done--and she had nowhere to go with it. Her father doesn't contact her unless she writes first. He sends her no support of any kind. He has had two wives and other children since she was born. He is not part of her life. I asked her how she felt about her dad. She said: "I know it sounds funny to say I don't know, but I don't know."

I know I cannot be all things to my daughter. I cannot be her dad. But on Father's Day I told her that I believed that her dad, or anyone else in the world, would gain tremendously by knowing and loving her--and that the loss is not hers, but his.

BARBARA EDIVAN

Riverside

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