Jason isn’t proud of the way he reacted to the news that he would be a father. But then, neither are many men who father children unexpectedly. And as we’re all individuals, we each react to our feelings in individual ways. That doesn’t make one way right or one way wrong, although, clearly, there are obvious wrong words to say, wrong tone of voice, and wrong actions. While this article doesn’t condone abuse in any way, it serves as a blanket explanation, describing some of the feelings birth fathers have and are sometimes unable or unwilling to express.

In Jason’s situation, when he was told that there would be a baby and he was the father, he took flight. At least in his mind. He did his best to ignore the situation and to avoid any mention of it. He skirted phone calls and distracted his mind so he wouldn’t have to think of it. Eventually, though, reality took hold and Jason reluctantly accepted the fact.

Jason not only accepted, but embraced the birth mother’s decision to place their child for adoption. In the end, everything turned out to be a beautiful experience. And in fact, it was life-changing for Jason.

What Jason wants birth mothers to know is this: Out of respect for your sacred role of motherhood, and the relationship you have with your baby, we honor you. We may not always act that way, but chances are it’s our insecurity speaking. We know it would be best for us to support you and let you proceed with your choices. We would ask you, though, to put yourselves in our shoes. Recognize that there is a lot of fear and feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. We’re either not fit to be fathers or not allowed to be fathers and that is hard. Please honor these emotions and recognize that although our behaviors may not be ideal—at the core, we’re hurting.

Surely, Jason isn’t the only man to feel this way. So a message to birth mothers everywhere: Please allow your child’s birth father the same support and understanding that you want for yourself. Let’s all assume that everyone is doing the best they can. As we do so, we’ll be less judgmental, less often offended, and overall happier.