Dear Readers: Happy Father’s Day to all the men in our reading audience who have had the pleasures and responsibilities of raising children. This includes fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers and those who have stepped in as father figures for those who needed them. Bless you all. Having a caring father is not only one of life’s great joys, but fathers also are tremendously important to a child’s emotional, academic and moral development. Please take the time today to let yours know you are thinking of them.
Dear Annie: Fathers love their children as much as mothers do. After a divorce, fathers want to be a part of their children’s lives, but can find it incredibly difficult when they are viewed as deadbeats and potential abusers. But it’s the children who lose when they are cut off from their fathers.
So to family court judges, law guardians, social workers: Please help the children. Don’t automatically believe everything you hear. You owe it to the children to investigate and let the father tell his side of the story.
And to all those mothers who think it’s a good idea to remove a father from a child’s life or spread false stories about how bad he is: Think of your children. Please love them more than you hate their father. They need him as much as they need you. Allow them to love him. They take their cues from you, and if they see that you are upset when they show affection for Daddy, they will believe it is wrong and will stop in order to please you. You think you are punishing your ex, but you are actually punishing your children.
I’ve seen two boys cut off from their fathers and hurt by their mothers’ hatred of the fathers, two boys who are growing up fatherless and wondering why Dad isn’t there for them, two boys whose Dads don’t take them places, don’t help with school work, aren’t there for games, concerts and graduations, two boys with loving, responsible fathers who are missing so much.
— Sad Grandma
Dear Grandma: We have often said in this column that fathers are incredibly important for their children’s development. Studies have shown that children who maintain close relationships with loving fathers do better in school and are more likely to stay off drugs. Fathers need to remain in their children’s lives, and it is sometimes up to the mother to bolster that relationship. Both parents are essential for a child’s well-being. Please, folks, put your children first.
Dear Annie: I was compelled to write after reading the sad letter from “Florida,” but this is for anyone of retirement age looking to fill their days.
Most school districts are happy to have volunteers to work with children who need a little extra help or in the lunchroom. High schools often use volunteers with art and music programs or homework clinics. It’s a great way to do something valuable, and it feels wonderful to help out a child.
A local animal shelter may also be looking for volunteers to walk dogs or play with the cats. Not only will it help the animals be more sociable and, therefore, more likely to be adopted, but it is therapeutic for the volunteer, too.
Exercise is also a great way to get those good endorphins flowing and help relieve sadness. Water aerobics is low impact and easy on the joints, but even a nice walk around the neighborhood helps, and you might meet a friend along the way.
My heart goes out to people of any age who are longing for companionship or activities to fill empty hours. Keep looking, keep positive and keep the faith.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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