I’m a father of a wonderful daughter of 2 years old. I’ve read the book “Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters” several times now and I loved it. I don’t know if this is possible but I’d like an advice from Dr Meeker. I’m Swiss and my wife is Colombian. We used to live in Switzerland but my wife wasn’t happy over there and had health issues, so we decided to move to Bogota, Colombia. Our daughter was less that one year old at this moment. I bought Dr Meeker’s book before she was born and it changed my life and the perception of parenting forever.
Now, after some serious complications for a long time, I’m probably going to get divorced (bilateral decision). Because her mom and dad doesn’t love each other enough and because not showing an example of love inside of a home is not a good thing for our baby and staying in a relationship like this is neither a good one. As you can imagine, living in Bogota is not really simple for a Swiss guy. I’m new, without any social circle and not happy at all here, living in a big city and trying to manage the language. I moved because it was the only choice I had to keep my family together but it failed. If I get separated, financially it would be almost impossible to leave over there.
I’m now thinking about leaving Colombia to go back to my home country, but being separated from my daughter is an horrific thought. I could see her during vacation time one month a year at best, and I think it would be better for her to have a happy dad, but it would mean that her father would live thousand of kilometers away from her. And I’m afraid that I couldn’t give her the love, attention and care she needs from her father. She is still very young (2yo) right now so I won’t be as hard as later in her life I think.
I know that superheroes should sacrifice themselves, but should I really stay in a place where I feel I can not give what I would like to my daughter or show her the things I would like (that I had from the place I used to live)?? I’m not comfortable here, and as you can imagine, I will maybe see here once every weekend when we are going to get divorced.
If there is a chance that I get an answer from Dr Meeker, I’d like to thank you for the time to read my email.
A Loving Father
PS: Thank you so much for writing this wonderful book, it has changed my life forever.
Dear Loving Father,
I can hear in your voice that you have a deep love for your daughter and that you are in a situation where you feel trapped. Let me first encourage you with this- you can change your life for the better no matter where you are.
Now let’s get down to business. Sit down because you aren’t going to like my answer but since your daughter can’t speak for herself, I will try to speak for her. Your little girl wants you in her life- period. She isn’t concerned with how happy you are or are not because she’s a child. She wants her Dad whether he’s miserable or happy.
Second, she needs you. She needs you to be there to hug her at night, to take her to her first day of kindergarten and to meet her friends. She needs you to take her on walks, learn to ride a bike and to meet her first boyfriend. (Did you read in my book how you should be there to shake that young man’s hand- hard- the first time you meet him?)
There is NO question that your daughter will grow up to be a happier, healthier and stronger young woman if you stay near her. You know that in your heart and that’s why you are struggling so much. If you move to Switzerland, you will become a stranger to your daughter. I know this because I’ve seen countless girls grow up with fathers who live across the country, let alone in another country. At first, you may stay fairly well connected but after one or two years, her interest in you will drop off and you will drift further apart. On top of that, there is a good chance that her mother will remarry someone from Columbia and that man will raise your daughter. Do you really want that? I can tell you that without question, your daughter wants you, not another man.
I know that you are terribly unhappy but I believe that leaving your daughter will bring more misery to you. So, for your daughter’s sake and yours too, stay in Columbia. That’s the right thing to do. But, that doesn’t mean that you have to be miserable for the rest of your life. Just get through this year and don’t think about what life will be like in 2 or 3 years. Find a counselor to help you get back on your feet. If you are unhappy in Columbia and move to Switzerland to become happy, you are mistaken. Your unhappiness will follow you because it comes from inside of you not from the country.
You can make a good life there. Find some friends. Get a new job. Learn the language. Go see a counselor or doctor who can help you and as I said, get through one day at a time.
Here’s the bottom line. If you leave, I can guarantee that in 10 or 20 years, you will live with a lifetime of regrets because you will not know your precious daughter and she will have been deprived of a good father. But if you stay, I guarantee, you will not have regrets. In the short term, you will have to muddle through your temporary unhappiness but over the long haul, you will know in your heart that you made the right decision and you’ll have a daughter who will want you to walk her down the aisle when she gets married.
I know that you can get through this because you are a good Dad.