Why won’t my father acknowledge me?

Dear Counsellor,
I am an ‘outside child’ with anger issues because I was not treated properly. My father has four children with his wife and me with my mother. The other four children went to high school and then university. However, I never went to university and had to drop out after senior 3 because my mother was ill and had stopped working, however, I was doing very well at school. My mother was a domestic helper for my father and his family. My mother said it was consensual sex after his consistent begging, and when she got pregnant, she was fired from the job by his wife. My father gave very little financial support towards me and has never been a father-figure to me. I realise that I could have achieved much more, but I was not given the opportunity. I am now in a hand-to-mouth job because, though I am competent and intelligent, I am not qualified. I do not deal with my father and the other children treat me like an outsider. I live with so many regrets and wonder what my life would have been like if I got the chance t
hat my siblings got. I want to shake this feeling, but do not know how. Do you have any suggestions?



Dear Stella,

If you’re a child born outside marriage, it was never your fault and you don’t have to feel angry about events which are over and unchangeable. You are wonderfully made in God’s image and your birth was on God’s agenda.  Correspondingly, you cannot control the events that happen to you, but you can certainly control how you react to them to reduce your emotional and physiological arousal caused by anger. 

It’s probably true that your future was in some way compromised by the horrific childhood ill-treatment and deprivation of your right to advanced Education. I know you feel diminished and unfairly treated by the action of your father abandoning you and denying you child support and parental love.

This deteriorated and damaged your self-esteem and stimulates accumulated anger towards your father but this doesn’t stop you from pursuing your life dreams because not all successful people have been to school.
You need to do something to undo this damage in order cultivate healthy relationships in future and live a happy life.

Never allow your horrific childhood experiences to determine your destiny. Essentially, forgiveness will release you from your own bondage, while holding on to anger and resentment against your father will blight your life. Forgiveness will free up your mental and emotional energies by creating the life you want to live rather than creating more suffering. Start by building appropriate emotional boundaries between you and your father. Find special time with your father and express your feelings to him so you could seek his advice on what to do in order to be a better and lovely child. It is possible that he doesn’t know how discriminated you feel about the distance between you and him and if you try to express what you’ve been feeling, without accusing or blaming, you may have the opportunity to have a really important conversation.

Hold yourself to the highest standard of conduct, swallow the pain and manage your anger so that you sort things out in order to get his parental blessing. His act of abandoning you was a legal issue but now that you’re above eighteen (I suppose) you can’t sue him for child neglect. However, you should bear in mind that you possess a wide range of potentials within your underlying abilities which can sail you to the highest level of financial competence. Today more women are taking aggressive steps towards ensuring their own financial success through self employment.

You don’t need to be a millionaire; it’s the little thing that counts once you become innovative and give it a try. Medium businesses like hair salon, boutique, simple mobile phones or stationery shop etcetera can give you the best returns yet they don’t require large amounts of capital to begin. Just apply your creativity skills with little capital and be sure to follow a well-developed plan to allow you meet some of your current living expenses build a solid reserve and create opportunities for your business to grow. This can even help you to go back to school and pursue adult Education if you miss Education. Never give up on life.

Your feedback

How should Stella deal with the regrets she harbours? Readers offer their advice.


Try to forgive

It takes a strong person to forgive someone you don’t feel deserves your forgiveness. You shouldn’t allow pain to reside in your heart by living a life of regrets. Talk to both your parents so that your father can take you as his own.

Pamela Irakoze, soloon owner

Talk to your siblings

Communicate to your siblings and let them understand that it’s not your fault to be born outside the wedlock. With the help of your father, I think you should be able to make peace with yourself and the family.

Enock Twagirimana, Taxi driver

Find something to help you earn a living

You shouldn’t dwell on the past, focus on your future. You should thank God that despite all that happened, your mother was able to take care of you with her limited means. I suggest you look for something useful that will see you and your mother live a comfortable life.

Abudulkarim Musafiri, Nyamirambo resident

Find a way to talk to your father

Now that you know the whereabouts of your father, find time to talk to him so that he can help you complete your studies. Don’t blame him for all that happened but focus on how you can make it up with him again.

Allen Manzi, beautician

Avoid self blame

Things happen and you shouldn’t blame yourself for that, I believe you were brought in this world for a reason. Stop regretting and find ways of burying the past behind so that you mind about the future.

Audry Karenzi, Kigali resident


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