Our expert says:
17 and 18 is not excessively young, and not young enough to prevent a couple from taking proper care of a child. But there's no value to be gained by developing resentments about the past. Presumably they did the best they could so far as they could see their duties. But, that he was consistently drunk suggests irresponsibility and lack of maturity at that time.
I applaud you for resolving not to become a victim of your circumstances.
I would not accept the urging of your mother ( special pleading ) and especially not that of other family members, as its really none of their business, to push you towards reconciling with your father. It is absolutely NOT your duty to do so.
I don't suggest, however, that you reject him totally. Circumstances may change again, and you might change your mind about the sort of relationship you would prefer to have. No need for major re-adjustments of your life, but leave yourself free to make ongoing decisions that best suit you and your child.
From your message, I gather than you have met with him recently ? It might be worth meeting him, perhaps in a neutral setting like a coffee shop, and engage with him calmly about how it felt to you, and how much his absence hurt you as you were growing up, and how hard though worthwhile it has been for you to find your own way of adjusting to this, something you are reluctant to disturb because he has suddenly schanged his mind. Talk with him about how he responds to facing the facts of his neglect and how that affected you, and how he feels now, and why he has changed his tune.
Forgiveness is NEVER EVER your duty or obligation. Only in the sense of freeing yourself from lasting bitterness which tugs you back towards past miseries is it useful for you to stop holding bitterness that is unhelpful for you
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