Note from the editor: Thanks for your patience, gentlereaders, regarding my day off on Saturday. I’m back for more on Sunday, and I invite you to come back tomorrow for more practical advice from the Dad next door.
My child’s father supposedly has a daughter back home. He refuses to get a DNA test because the child’s mother hasn’t asked for anything. The mother is an angry person who has threatened me before. I want this man to be a part of his daughter’s life, like my father never was. How do I share my child’s father with this little girl? How can I involve my child in this girl’s life?
If the man doesn’t want contact with this daughter, there’s little you can – or should – do. Unless the mother forces the issue by suing for child support, your boyfriend need not do anything. Perhaps the child is his, perhaps not. The child’s mother might not know herself, and if neither of them want to sort it out, your getting involved will not improve the situation.
It may be difficult, but you must avoid projecting your own fears and regrets onto the life of a little girl who may or may not be indirectly related to your child. If you push this issue against the wills of your boyfriend as well as the girl’s mother, you risk involving the girl in a toxic situation and have as good a chance of harming her as helping her.
While I understand your desire for your child to meet a possible sister, do you really want to deal yourself into the life of a woman who has threatened you? Because neither you nor your child can have a relationship with the little girl unless you also have a relationship with her mother. And given that the only connection between the two of you is a man who has married neither of you and wants nothing to do with the other woman, you – and your child – apparently have more to lose than either of the other parties.
I know we hate and judge people and things because our parents taught us to – maybe unknowingly, but they still did. I don’t want to teach my children that, so I thought maybe I should meditate a lot when I’m around them. But if I’m always meditating and never speaking, how would they learn to speak? I really don’t know anything and need advice.
You’re not asking for parenting advice. You’re trying to find out about yourself.
I don’t know who you are. It’s taken me my entire life to find out who I am, and I’m still learning. That said, I can give you a small amount of useful advice.
- Stop living in a dream world. Your children will learn from you, and it falls on you to determine what you wish to teach them. Your proposed solution simply abdicates that responsibility. I understand you’re afraid of being a bad father, but if you simply do nothing and avoid the job for fear of doing it poorly, your fears will be realized. By not acting, you in effect choose to act – and act foolishly. If you do nothing but meditate in the presence of your children, you won’t appear spiritual, just aloof.
- If you’re so concerned about what your children will learn from you that you’d rather do nothing at all to avoid the risk, the only solution to the problem starts with looking in the mirror. Examine your own life, your own values. If you’re not satisfied that your life will represent a good example for your children, then change your life. Act differently, make better decisions. You don’t have to be perfect, but you owe it to your children to at least try to set that example.
- Hold yourself accountable and stop blaming your parents. Yes, parental guidance makes a difference. But plenty of people manage to develop their own value systems if they aren’t satisfied with those inculcated by their parents. The attitude expressed in your letter, if reflected in your life over the next 18 years, will result in your children learning at least one lesson from you: They’ll learn that their problems are all your fault. I doubt that’s the lesson you wish to teach.
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