Fathers Have Rights Too!

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Whilst we have young single mothers in abundance playing the role of both parents, there are also many young fathers who are unfortunatley denied the right to even see their children. Jamie Ottley reveals all to Camila

A father is for life

Far too often we hear about absent fathers and the bad reputations they carry.  They are known for escaping when situations get tough and trying to avoid their responsibilities as a parent. But what about the fathers who desperately want to be a part of their children’s life, but are denied their right to be a parent? I spoke to a dad who after several attempts to be part of his daughter’s life, has only one option to gain contact with her – to go through costly court procedures.

When Jamie found out his girlfriend was pregnant, he was naturally anxious,  but happy to become a father for the first time. He quickly starting searching for a stable job and made sure he attended all the ante-natal appointments and even provided his girlfriend with all the natural juices she craved! But a few short months into the pregnancy the relationship started to break down. His girlfriend began to distance herself and began to avoid any communication with him. As puzzled as he was, he continued to pursue her as he still wanted to be there for his soon-to-be-born baby, but he felt that she had completely cut him out and that all his attempts were backfiring.

Months were passing and Jamie wasn’t made aware of anymore scan dates or appointments. Plus, he didn’t even know the sex of his child or when it was due to be born.

I tried to hold back but the single mother in me (with baby father drama experience), had to comment, “You must have done something wrong?” I raised my eyebrow. He looked at me and simply replied, “I don’t know where I messed up”. It was clear he wished he knew if he had indeed done something wrong.

At that moment I realised why many relationships may break down during pregnancy. So many changes happen to a woman during that time. From the obvious physical changes which can involve skin problems and stretch marks, to hormonal changes affecting moods and emotions. The mother-to-be doesn’t even understand many of these changes herself. Then there is the father-to-be, who of course also has his worries, (which shouldn’t be overlooked) – a woman may show physical signs of pregnancy, but a man is in a similar boat mentally. Jamie confessed he would often wonder if he would be a good enough dad when his child was born.

With all these changes and emotions running high, the relationship will inevitably start to feel strained, but its important to remember that problems will happen when there is a lack of communication. Let’s face it, men don’t understand women at the best of times, so how would a man understand a hormonal pregnant woman who is about to give birth to his baby? With all the worries Jamie just didn’t know what had happened.

Jamie never knew when his child was born and he doesn’t even know her name. There are two sides to every story and there are many different circumstances, but when there is a father who wants to be there for his child, I think as mothers we need to find ways around it. At the end of the day, we ourselves chose to have a child with that guy, and now it’s time to grow up and face the music.

Jamie is now in the process of arranging a court hearing; he says with all the money he is spending on court fees, it could have all been better spent – towards his daughter.

There are a staggering 186,000 single fathers in the UK*, and in my opinion, these fathers deserve no less respect than single mothers.

*Office of National Statistics (2012)


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