Dilemma: my son has invited his absent father to his wedding

Katharine Whitehorn / 10 March 2016

A reader is devastated to hear that her son is planning to invite his absent father to his wedding and asks agony aunt Katharine Whitehorn for advice.



Dilemma: an estranged father

Since I divorced my first husband when our youngest son was 13, we have had no contact with him whatsoever. He has sent no money, no birthday cards or Christmas presents – nothing. He has shown no interest in staying in touch with our children but we were able to get on with our lives without him.

Now my son who lives in Germany is getting married there this summer and has announced that he would be inviting his father as it was “only fair”. 

I am devastated that he should be invited to the wedding when he had abandoned me and his sons for more than 20 years. But what to do?

Katharine Whitehorn's advice

I can see why you feel bitter about this, but he is still your son’s father, and if your son wants, at this moment of commitment and happiness, to heal the hurts of the past and make peace with everyone who has led up to this point in his life, so be it. 

I think you would be admired by everyone if you could pretend to accept your ex-husband willingly and magnanimously. 

If you hold out against him, I fear it might be you who is thought of as the spoilsport. 

Is this fair? No, of course not. But that’s the way the world runs, all too often. Bite on the wedding cake and smile.

Our readers say...

We also asked our Facebook followers for their advice...

"Let the ex husband come and see what a fine job you have done of raising your son, you did that not him. Be the better person just rise above it, it's one day, don't let it spoil what should be a joyful day."

"Tell your son of your feelings but you then have to accept his decision. There must have been some contact or how would he be able to be invited, so grit your teeth and smile. Remind the ex how well you did without him, only once but remind him."

" It's not your call. Whatever you may think of him he is your son's father and children have a right to love their parents and remain in contact with both of them if they so choose. What you think about your ex husband is irrelevant and you do not have the right to deny your son access to or a relationship with his father. It's your son's wedding so it's about him and what he wants, not about you."

"My children had their father at their weddings and I was in the same position, but I said "it's your day have what you want". But I gave my daughter away not her dad."

"Perhaps he wants to find out about his father and this is an olive branch. You have been told about it in advance, and at the end of the day its about your son and his brides day. You will have your friends and family round you unlike your ex."

"For your son's sake you should grin and bear it. If I was in the same situation I would want to meet up with my ex a week or so before the wedding, have a chat and if necessary set some rules that will help your son's day be the happy day it should be."

"If he wants him there then it's his choice. My mother always slated my dad for years after their divorce, in fact for 40 years till he died and I hated her for it."

"Follow Katherine Whitehorn's advice. It's good advice. It might ruin your experience of your son's wedding but this isn't your wedding and it would be the best gift to give him, to be trusted during a demanding time. And no one but you know what it costs you."

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