My name is Summer Wilson and I was raised by a father of convenience. Most people may wonder what I mean when I say this, but don’t worry I will explain. A father of convenience is a father who is present in their child’s life…particularly when it’s convenient for them. For example, Chelsea and Adam’s story from Teen Mom 2. I was at the top of the list rooting for Adam to do right by his kid and prove everyone wrong. O mean sometimes it seems like he’s going to do it right this time, but, in the end, he always lets me down. Now, I’m not saying that it’s always his fault, however, 9 times out of is. It wasn’t until these last couple of seasons that I fully understood Chelsea’s point of view. She said something along the lines of ‘it’s hurting her more with him coming in and out then if he would just go away.’ I’ve picked my brain over and over again at that statement and I came to the conclusion that she’s right…to an extent.

Adam coming in and out of her life from time to time (and doing a pretty crappy job parenting when he does) is probably doing more harm than good. However, at the age where she already knows him as her dad, if he were to leave completely then that could be worse. If she were younger and had no idea what a dad was, I’d tell him to get lost, but, from the viewpoint of a child, it’s too late now. I empathize with Chelsea, I really do, because I understand fully what’s going through her head and what her child is and may go through. I understand because I once was that child.

I grew up with a father that, at first, I saw I guess a ton. I honestly don’t really remember. What I do remember is eventually those visits of movies and staying over dwindled down. By sophomore year of high school, they were basically non-existent which sucks because this was probably the time I needed him the most. Unlike most girls my age at the time, there was no loving father showing me how a guy was supposed to treat a girl. I had to figure that all out on my own. So needless to say, I’ve had a ton of failures with guys. So many that I eventually gave up. I don’t want to say my heart hardened, but, for lack of better words, it did. I placed myself in the dreaded “friend zone” with almost every guy I met.

It also affected my emotions. I became angry, bitter, and sometimes I just hate other people’s happiness. I roll my eyes at “cute couples” and PDA. I actually hate Father’s day with a passion. However, that eventually lessened. There was time, I think it was junior year, that I thought I would see my father again. He had moved to Georgia and I was supposed to go down there with a friend and spend I think a week down there. I didn’t happen. Senior year of high school, I finally spoke my peace. I became tired of pretending and told him how I felt. Sometimes we become so obsessed with being perfect children and respecting our parents that we forget that we’re allowed to be human and show emotion. So that year, I told him he was welcome to my graduation, but, because of limited tickets, he wouldn’t get one and would have to sit in the un-ticketed area. I also told him he should do a better job with his other child who still loved him unconditionally. He didn’t even show up to my high school graduation. Still, I let it go.

By college, I was actually trying to date and open myself up more. My father was also trying to better our almost non-existent relationship. He bought me a mini-fridge for college, he asked about classes almost daily, if not weekly, and he bought me a book my 1st semester. It was my 2nd semester that this stopped. He promised he would buy another book and, as the semester got closer, I started asking when it would happen. At first, his response was always that it’s coming, but, eventually, those responses stopped. It pains me to say that I have graduated college and I still haven’t gotten that book. Let me be clear, I wasn’t upset that I never got the book. I was upset because he lied and stopped responding. Instead of saying he couldn’t do it or didn’t have it, he just ignored me.

By sophomore year of college, I realized it not only affected my bad emotions, but my good ones too. I either loved too much or not enough which hurts more than you realize. In order to protect myself, I developed sort of a mantra so no one could hurt me. In the back of my mind I always though, my own father basically left me so you can’t do anything to me. If someone who helped give me life can basically walk away/ignore me than nothing you do can top that. When I tell you that is a toxic way to live, I mean it wholeheartedly. You start to push people away, boys and girls alike. You seem standoffish because you’re quiet, but you’re only quiet because you don’t want them to get too close. This lead me to develop a type of social anxiety. Whenever I think I need to make an impression, I freeze up. This makes it even harder than it already is to date with my ‘you can’t hurt me’ mentality.

It wasn’t until I got closer to graduating that I fully understood how to make myself a better. You see sometime around Junior year, I completely cut him out of my life. I changed my phone number and, on facebook, I ignored him the way he had ignored me. This past semester, however, I realized that in order to better myself and be happy, I had to forgive him. So I did. I invited him to my graduation and my graduation cookout. At this cookout, I saw my father for the first time in at least four years and I felt nothing. There wasn’t anger or sadness, just nothing. I’m happy where I am today. I forgive him for everything because without that struggle I wouldn’t be who I am today.

One of the biggest struggles through this entire thing would have been dealing with his family. I didn’t want to cut them all off because of my father, but I did. I also hated the fact that it kind of seemed like I was rude. They always said how he was a great father to his other child or “Give him a chance…he loves you.” Not to sound cliché, but what’s love got to do with it? Just because someone loves you doesn’t mean you should set yourself up for failure time and time again. How’s that saying go? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. The second thing I dealt with or kind of didn’t deal with was people assuming I lived with both parents or had them both around. They would ask what my father did for a living and I would say I didn’t know. They would ask what I was doing with my parents for the holidays and I would start with “Well I live with only my mom and all of her family comes down…” and they would respond “oh you do 2 separate holidays with each parent.” Every time I wouldn’t have the heart to tell them the truth.

Being without a proper father can really hurt child. It can affect their emotions, how they think about themselves, and how they perceive other people. However, it can also make them stronger. Because what doesn’t kill you…