Dear Abby: Parent drafted into adoption stops short of forming a bond

After planning to not have children, my partner and I had to adopt one of his family members.

Dear Abby: After planning to not have children, my partner and I had to adopt one of his family members. Long story short, it was us or an unsafe situation.

I have never in my life had an interest in children or spent any time with them. After a few years, I still have no interest in parenting. I work long hours, so my partner does most of it, but he is better at it, so it makes sense.

I ensure that the child’s needs are met. I organize events, take him to point A or B, but have no interest in bonding or spending time with him — no desire to form a connection, which I feel some guilt about. Deep down, I resent having been forced to take on a responsibility I never wanted in the first place. Is it good enough to provide a safe, stable home with opportunities for a child, but not to love or form a special connection with him?

Reluctant Parent

In Texas

Dear Reluctant: In your case, it appears it’s going to have to be. We don’t have to love everyone, but we do have to treat them well, which you have done to the best of your ability. But recognize that if you are truly unable to form an emotional bond with the child, his only attachment will be to your partner. And because of all the effort you HAVE put into raising him, it’s rather sad — for you.

Dear Abby: I noticed a picture of a young boy on Facebook. He appeared to be about 4 or 5. He was holding a sign stating that if he received 20,000 “likes,” his father would quit smoking. My immediate reaction was, “Isn’t the fact that your son loves you enough to make you be healthy?”

I question the values we are teaching our young children. In a world where the trend is to conform and gather likes, how much value should we allow our children to place on the opinions of others? Should our self-esteem and actions be based this heavily on being “liked” by strangers or peers? I’m an old-fashioned gal who believes in family ties and the strength a person develops by acting independently.

Believes in Family Ties

Dear Believes: Whether we like it or not, people — especially young people — depend upon the affirmation of others. The internet provides a quick and easy way for folks to bring attention to themselves or to a cause they believe in. Whether this phenomenon is healthy, I cannot say — but of this I am certain: It’s here to stay.

I agree with you that for his health and for the sake of his child, the father should quit smoking without being bribed with computer clicks. Between you and me, I suspect it was something the boy’s mother dreamed up. Perhaps I’m suffering from “cuteness fatigue.” But if you believe a child thought that gambit up on his own, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.