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Unborn baby’s dad questions paternity

Dear Dr Nekia,

I have been in a relationship with someone for six months now and I am pregnant. This is my first pregnancy and even though we didn’t plan for this to happen, I was excited about the news.

Things have been going really well for us as a couple, we were inseparable and I thought that we were both genuinely happy. So imagine my surprise when I told the father the news and he became cruel. His first reaction was to question whether or not he is the father and when I said that he was, he refused to believe me. Needless to say, the relationship that we once had has devolved and he says that he will stick around, but that I should not expect for him to get closer to me or the baby until he gets a DNA test. He hasn’t been to any doctor’s appointments, is disinterested in updates, has asked me not to tell anyone that he is the potential father, and even though I would love for him to be a part of this pregnancy, I’m not willing to risk my baby’s health to get a DNA test performed before the birth. He thinks that this is a trick. I’m feeling betrayed and offended that he would even think that I am trying to trap him into being a father. This is definitely not the man who I have been spending so much time with. Some say that I should understand his point of view because women sleep around a lot and don’t know who the dad is. I don’t care about what other women do — I care about how I and my baby are being treated. And if he cannot be supportive now, then why should I even allow him to be a part of our lives after the birth?

If he suddenly thinks so low of me and rejects this baby, then I do not want him in my life — should I let him walk away?

Pregnant And Rejected

Dear Pregnant And Rejected,

I’m sorry to hear that you are going through this experience during a time that should be so very joyful. We are talking about the welcoming of a new life here, and unfortunately I think that we tend to take this beautiful time for granted. Having a baby has become an every day clinical condition, dominated by burdens of finances, and as in your case, absentee parents, which contributes to the negative attitude that many of us have towards giving birth. It is our own personal reservations regarding parenthood that causes such behaviours being seen by the father of your developing baby. It sounds to me that he may be scared of the responsibility that awaits him; but another key component here is the way that his affections have changed towards you. It is so very easy to demonise the woman for getting pregnant as well as it is to put the burden of proof of fidelity on her. Such thinking has become so common place that many of us do not even question it, and will therefore accept the ill sentiments that men and potential fathers will project towards us.

This is why you are being advised to be the understanding one. Unfortunately the sad truth is that your feelings as a jilted pregnant woman are not being honoured or respected as much as his feelings of uncertainty are.

Women often find themselves in a position of having to swallow their feelings for the sake of others, and your pregnancy is no exception to this. Yes it is true that some men have been tricked or lied to in order for them to claim fatherhood to a child that is not theirs, but this is not as common as people perceive it to be. Furthermore, we must think to a time before paternity tests in order to gain a sense of personal responsibility. Parenthood can be overwhelming and takes a great deal of trust for both parents to trust and believe in one another; And prior to paternity testing, men and women were forced to behave like adults and trust one another, or suffer the consequences. There was no sure way of knowing if a man was the father of a child, but the reality is that sex and the resulting children are the course of nature. It is not for the woman to solely be responsible for avoiding pregnancy nor is it solely for her to prove her virtue. It is also for the man to take responsibility in withholding his semen from women that he does not trust. What man of integrity and character thinks it OK to choose to lay with a woman who he judges to be of lesser character, then turns to condemn and speculate about her? Sadly many do in today’s world of dating where so many people are out to casually have sex without strings, feeling, responsibility, or obligation for their actions.

You thought that you had met a man who you could trust. One who you thought trusted you, but it is pretty clear that this is not the case. You are valid in your feelings of betrayal and shock towards him thinking your character to be dishonest and unfaithful; however, you will have to come to terms with the fact that he has a right to his feelings as well. I do believe that he could be handling this situation a whole lot better, but he has chosen not to and even though it would seem justifiable that you remove him from you and your child’s life, I would discourage this because every child has a right to know and develop a loving relationship with their father.

So many things have gone wrong in society and in our homes and personal lives that causes many of us to not behave in appropriate ways. We find ourselves unable to face situations productively and with care, and sadly this often reflects in the negative and hurtful interactions between men and women. I pray that you can find as much peace and comfort during your pregnancy as you need, so that you and baby will continue to be healthy and beautiful. At this time your baby needs you more than anything else, so as you transition into mommyhood, remember that the actions and attitudes of the father are not a reflection of you but a reflection of his own internal turmoil.