My Son’s Father Has a Troubled Past and Bad Boy Qualities; Should I Run or Stay?

BY: - 29 Aug '17 | Relationships

Share this article!


Dear Dr. Buckingham,

I am 26 years young and I have been dating my son’s father for about 3.5 years on and off due to infidelity and incarceration. I know it sounds bad, but he has had a rough, hardcore life and I’m very empathetic to his past. He will be 30 in a few days, and is currently incarcerated. Our son is 2 years old and loves his dad very much. He has 2 other siblings, 6 and 1 (yes 1, the infidelity times 1000). My mate has been with his other children’s mother prior to me for 13 years (really 6 because he was incarcerated half the time) since they were 13 or something (puppy love) they broke up and he found me and fell in love.

We have been through A LOT, however I can’t let him go just yet. This past Thanksgiving, I found out that he was adopted and his biological parents are his aunt and uncle. His uncle raped the aunt and his now mother, took him in. His mom told him he was adopted at age 9 and he went through a host of behavior issues, got a caseworker, and left home at the age of 13 to sell drugs and make a living.

The only time giving is bad, is when you are giving up.

He obtained a diploma, a CDL class A license, a certificate for HVAC, and goes to college for business.  I do not know the inner story because he won’t let it out completely. It’s always bits and pieces of everything inside because of his street life. He wants to go to couples counseling and I agree, but I think he needs individual counseling too. My question to you is how and if, I can persuade him to go? And, do you have any free or low-income suggestions in the Philadelphia, PA area?

Also, we are making the couple’s vision board I saw on your site. He really is kind, smart, generous, thoughtful, social, sweet, protecting, loving, affectionate, strong, ambitious and family oriented. I love him and I see the qualities that make him a good man, but I also do not want to enable his behavior or mask the issues to become bigger life-altering ones, especially while raising a Brown boy. My Son’s Father Has Some Bad Boy Qualities: Should I Run or Stay and let him get the help he deserves so we can grow?

Please help. Thank You

Ms. B

Ask Dr. Buckingham

Dear Ms. B,

I am glad that you contacted me for guidance. Your son’s father has been through a lot as you indicated and as a result he will probably be dealing with his past for a while. You are correct in your thinking as it relates to not enabling him by making excuses for him due to his past. Unfortunately, some people allow past childhood victimization to dictate who they are as adults. You should be empathic to his past, but definitely do not allow your empathy to turn solely into sympathy.

Empathy is about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes so that you can try to understand things from their viewpoint. In contrast, sympathy is feeling compassion, sorrow or pity for the hardships that another person encounters. Continue to try to understand him by demonstrating empathy, but do not allow sympathy to dominate your thinking.

The worst thing that you can do is to feel sorry for him and allow him to feel sorry for himself. I often remind people that victims never win. They never win because they usually spend more time focusing on what happened to them as opposed to focusing that energy on trying to move forward.

Your son’s father has taken steps to move forward by trying to better himself and you should continue to support him in his efforts. However, when it comes to his potential psychological demons do not try to address them alone. I agree with your thoughts about him needing individual counseling to work on himself, but do not rule out the power of couples’ therapy.

The therapist can help you better understand how to cope with and relate to him in counseling. Also, once your son’s father attends couples therapy with you the counselor will probably assess his individual needs and make recommendations. Use the couples’ counseling foundation to introduce him to the power of individual counseling.

In regards to your question, “Do You Run or Stay?”, I highly recommend that you stick it out, especially since he his willing to get professional help. Everyone needs a second chance, especially black men who are trying to do right. I am a victim of a troubled past and I turned out to be the first doctor in my family.

Use therapy to help you determine how long you should stick it out. Great qualities such as kind, smart, generous, thoughtful, social, sweet, protecting, loving, affectionate, strong, ambitious and family oriented do not resolve mental health issues such as Major Depression and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. A trained professional like myself can help you understand and determine how to move forward in your relationship.

Unfortunately, I do not know of free or low-income services in Philadelphia, PA. However you can Google Psychology Today and search for therapist in Philadelphia, PA. You should look for someone who works with low-income families and who specializes in Depression and PTSD. Also, please visit my website: and consider purchasing a copy of my book, “A Black Man’s Worth: Conqueror and Head of Household”. In my book I talk about my childhood struggles and what I did to overcome them. My book will definitely help you and your son’s father, especially in raising a “Brown Boy.”

Lastly, as you move forward on your journey toward finding answers please keep in mind three of my personal quotes listed below.

  • “Resilient people find solutions in problems. In contrast, troubled people find problems in every solution.”
  • “The only time giving is bad, is when you are giving up.”
  • “Failure is not determined by your setbacks, but by your unwillingness to fight back.”

Best regards,

Dr. Buckingham

If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please send an email to

Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.

About the author

Dwayne Buckingham wrote 216 articles on this blog.

Dr. Dwayne L. Buckingham, author of Qualified, yet Single: Why Good Men Remain Single and Unconditional Love: What Every Woman and Man Desires in a Relationship, is a highly acclaimed international clinical psychotherapist, life coach, relationship and resiliency expert, motivational speaker and corporate consultant. He is also the President and Chief Executive Officer of R.E.A.L. Horizons Consulting Service, located in Silver Spring, Maryland. To learn more about Dr. Dwayne L. Buckingham visit his website at


like what you're reading?

Start Shopping!


Facebook Wordpress

Leave a Reply

Single/Dating Articles Delivered To Your Inbox Daily! Sign up below!

6 Early Warning Signs That Your Marriage is Headed for Trouble

BY: - 4 Sep '17 | Marriage

Share this article!


There are few higher highs than falling in love and committing to it for life through a giddy walk down the aisle. Fortified by the recital of deeply personal vows, this journey of a lifetime begins with promise and uncommon joy. Many couples, despite the occasional dust up, manage to successfully protect and actively engage in their union year after year. Others, however, succumb to what I describe as the “slow fade.”

To them, it feels as though they woke up one day and realized they were married to a stranger. In actuality, the signs that their marriage was in trouble had been there all along but they had failed to take notice. Slowly, gradually, trouble built upon trouble until one day, they found their relationship had reached Defcon 5.

The dates were aplenty and the loving was hot and heavy when you first became man and wife. Not so much anymore.

Before reaching the point of no return, there are early warning signs that your wedded bliss is in danger. While not exhaustive, I’ve compiled a list of irrefutable signals that there is trouble in paradise. And, while I’m no expert, from one married person to another, take heed.

Sign #1: You are Indifferent to Yourself and to Your Spouse

Remember caring about your looks, your health, your dreams, and those of the person you married? Slowly, these things matter less and less, until they no longer matter at all. Watch out for such phrases as “Do what you want!” and “Whatever!” The moment they begin to replace, “Here’s what I think” and “Let’s talk it over,” you’re headed in the wrong direction.

Sign #2: You’re Beginning to Show Your Spouse Little to No Respect Whether in Private or in Public

Whether in public or in private, it’s no thing for you to belittle, embarrass, or disrespect your spouse. In your eyes, they have started to fall short. As a result, you are beginning to find them unworthy of thoughtful acts or kind words. If it’s become more challenging to say anything nice to your spouse, it’s time to take notice and right the ship before it’s too late.

Sign #3: You Have the Same Argument, Different Day

If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Except, in your relationship, it’s pretty much always one thing…day after day. You and your spouse are at an impasse on some issue. Neither is willing to budge. Neither is willing to let it go. If you’re going at it like a dog with a bone over the same thing, trouble is afoot. Find a means of compromise and get help.

Sign #4: You Begin to Keep Secrets From Your Partner

At first, it’s a little, itty, bitty secret – the new guy at work is hitting on you, or you bought the expensive Air Jordans you said you wouldn’t. But soon, you find it’s becoming easier and easier to hold back information, excluding your spouse from areas of your life that could eventually be cause for concern in your marriage. Start bringing the itty bitty back out into the open, or else.

Sign #5: You Have No Desire to Spend Time with Your Boo and Certainly No Time for the Coochee Coo

The dates were aplenty and the loving was hot and heavy when you first became man and wife. Not so much anymore. Now, late nights at work are becoming more frequent and you’re both too tired to make romance a priority. Not only that, but after work drinks with your coworkers appears more appealing than dinner with your spouse. Uh oh! If this is becoming your life, it will lead to the eventual death of your marriage. Don’t wait to fix this one. It’s major!

Sign #6: Your Spouse has Taken a Back Seat to the Kids

This one tends to get sticky for some couples because it’s tough to see it coming. You have two competing loves, your spouse and your children. You have heard tell that your spouse comes first, but little Junior wants Mommy to tell him a bedtime story. Meanwhile, Daddy wants to rock Mommy to sleep and comes up empty…again. Though that example is meant to be funny, it’s not so funny when your spouse starts to resent becoming second fiddle to your children. Find ways to partner and ensure the kids’ needs are met without neglecting the needs in your relationship.

These early warning signs of a troubled marriage are but a precious few. But if you know what to look for, you can avert a potential disaster in your relationship. Open your eyes and pay attention before the love you share with your spouse begins to slowly fade away.

BMWK, what other early warning signs that a marriage is headed for trouble have you seen?

About the author

Joann Fisher wrote 154 articles on this blog.

Joann Fisher has been a writer and editor for both print and online newpapers and magazines for the last 10 years. She now serves as a Writer/Editor at BMWK and lead Editor for The Joy Network.


like what you're reading?

Start Shopping!


Facebook Wordpress