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Meeting my father for the first time.

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My biological father has never been a part of my life. He divorced my mom when me and my brother were babies and left the country. He has never contacted me or given my mother any child support money. We grew up very poor, but both of us turned out to be pretty good people and put ourselves through college.

Recently, my brother looked up our long-lost father’s address and showed up at his front door. It turns out he (dad) has 3 teenage kids and a wife. The reunion went well, but now my brother says that our dad (and his family) wants to meet me.

I’m debating whether or not to meet him. On one hand, I’m curious about that part of my family. On the other hand, he has ignored us for the past 27 years and has never tried to contact us. I want to punish him by ignoring him now. It was really hard for my mom to raise two kids all on her own. Why should I give this stranger the privilege of being in my life??

My brother called me a “b****” for not going to meet him, but I don’t see why I should just run into his arms and act like we’re all one big happy family.

Should I meet this guy or what??

Meeting my father for the first time.

Answered by on -


It can be very dysregulating to have a parent come into your life that has been absent and I certainly understand your ambivalence. But I would look at your motivation in the decision-making process. To quote Buddha: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

Your wanting to punish your father, a man who has not cared what you did or felt or accomplished for 27 years, is leaving you with the hot coal, not him. You do not have to make your brother’s nor father’s quest yours, but you have to allow the choice to be one that genuinely suits your needs. Otherwise it puts you in orbit around theirs.

On this topic, Verywell Family’s website states, “While every estranged relationship is complex, it is important to be prepared to start fresh when reuniting. Leave the recriminations behind; let go of the resentment. Be prepared to accept your father as a different human being. Whatever negative experiences might have occurred have probably changed him as well. You may feel a need to unload a lot of your feelings on your father, and he may feel the same way. There may be a time when that would be appropriate, but the initial meeting is not that time. Make up your mind that you will not let the meeting deteriorate into a “bashing session.” You should plan not to speak ill of anyone, and if starts, change the subject. Keeping the first meeting on a positive and superficial level will help you reconnect at the right pace.”

You did not mention your brother’s age relative to yours, but this may be partly why he is in a different place wanting the connection. He is tracking down the same-sex parent and I would hope he comes to understand that his needs, by both age and gender, may be very different than yours. You and your brother may also want to employ the skills of a family therapist who has some expertise in reuniting families. Here is a list of therapists you can review.

You obviously have done well taking good care of yourself, and I suspect that trend will continue. Keep your needs and timeline for meeting them as a priority. If you choose to meet him only do it when you are ready, not pressured. Otherwise your resentment may undo whatever good might come from the meeting. Good things can come from such a meeting, but only when your willingness and readiness are combined.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan

Meeting my father for the first time.

This article has been updated from the original version, which was originally published here on March 24, 2010.

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2019). Meeting my father for the first time.. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 2 Jun 2019 (Originally: 24 Mar 2018)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 2 Jun 2019
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