I READ the article "When did you last see your children?" (Real Life, 15 February) with dismay. When I was 14 my parents separated and my father saw me as a trophy in a battle that no one else was fighting. He desperately wanted me to live with him and he and his family tried every trick they could to persuade me. My mother watched, worried, but encouraged me to make the decision that would make me the happiest. She could not offer me the material possessions that he was promising, but I knew where I would best be. I started a new life with her. From that day, 17 years ago, my father has never telephoned me. All contact has come from me.
I'm 33 and, after years of support and counselling, am just about coming to terms with the fact that I truly believe that my father does not love me. I am so sorry for the families that appeared in that article but my pity for the fathers is somewhat overshadowed by the empathy that I feel for the children concerned. These men must understand that even if they lose touch, they should strive to ensure that their children know that they are loved by them, even if they cannot bring themselves to be part of their lives. Allowing a child to lose the belief in that love is the cruellest thing a parent can do to it.
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