Dear Precious Friends,
Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement and prayers last week. I definitely felt them. The Care Net banquet went very well and Women’s Anew in Ohio was spirit filled. Now this weekend I’m off again to another women’s retreat in Ohio with Grace Church. I’d deeply appreciate it if you kept me in your prayers as I come to mind. There are so many hurting women out there and I want to have time to be available to them but I also have to have energy left to prepare and to speak. So ask God for his strength and wisdom for me to know when to say yes and when to say no.
This week’s question: My adult son just found out that the baby his wife and he have is not his. She confessed to him while pregnant that she had been with someone but my son stayed with her hoping that the baby was his. The real father knows that he has a baby and wants some involvement.
My daughter-in-law’s parents told my son last year that they had been told that she has borderline personality disorder. My son has checked into it and he seems to think they are correct even though she hasn’t been officially diagnosed. She (daughter-in-law) has a history of getting quickly involved emotionally and sexually with someone, telling them she’s divorced, or in the process of getting divorced.
My son has been through some devastating things since she came into his life three years ago. Knowing what he knows now, even though he loves the baby and has bonded with her (she is two months old) what is the prudent course of action? He is a believer, but not walking closely with the Lord. He hasn’t said much to me but he is in the military and I am going out to visit him. I don’t know what my place is or how much advice to give him.
I also feel badly that my son may not have learned how to deal with his wife’s abusive behavior because he grew up in a home where we all endured his dad’s emotional and verbal abuse and I didn’t model the correct way to handle it. I’m afraid that my son is allowing this abuse in the vain hope that he if he just “loves her more” she’ll eventually change” I lived with this delusion for way too long.
Answer: My heart goes out to you. When our children hurt, we as mom’s and dad’s hurt too. Your son needs your encouragement and your presence. As a young man he doesn’t need you to tell him what course to take. But he does need your prayers and to know that you have confidence in him that he will figure out, with God’s help, what the best course of action is. That may mean offering him an opportunity to dialogue with you about the pro’s and con’s of each choice he may make, but there is no easy road here or perfectly clear choice.
Since he is married to the child’s mother when she was born, I believe he is considered the legal father even if he isn’t the biological father. Since I’m not an attorney, I can’t give legal advice, but I’d encourage you to check with a lawyer about this, especially since he’s overseas. That may make a difference in how he looks at the situation and what decisions he makes. If he is considered the legal father, he would still be responsible to pay child support if he and his wife divorce. If he chooses to give up his legal rights to her biological father, than I believe that would be different, but again check with an attorney about this matter.
But those are small details in comparison to the big picture. Here is a man that’s been sinned against, a marriage that has been fractured and an innocent child that needs a loving family and a mommy and a daddy.
I think your son will have to wrestle with two questions, related but may have separate answers. The first one is does he want to continue being married to the child’s mother? She has been unfaithful and deceitful and he does have biblical grounds for divorce. If she indeed is BPD (Borderline personality disorder), she will need significant help in order to learn new ways of handling her erratic emotions and acting out behaviors. Is she willing to go for help and stay the course of treatment? If not than he will need to be prepared for more of the same if he chooses to stay married to her.
You indicated in your letter that he is leaning toward not seeing them as a “couple” anymore. But you also fear that he will fall into some old patterns he observed between you and his father where you put up with inappropriate and abusive behavior hoping that he’d change if you only loved him better. I think you could share those concerns with your son and remind him that he can make a difficult marriage better all by himself, but he cannot make it a loving and healthy marriage all by himself. If she is unwilling to own and work on her part, things will not show much improvement. Can he live with that in a peaceful and committed way? If not then perhaps he will have his answer.
The second question is whether he wants to commit to be the father of this child, knowing that he is not her biological father. This is done all the time in a blended marriage where a husband or wife commits to help parent children from a previous relationship. It’s also done in adoption, where someone takes the responsibility for parenting a child that is not their own biological child. There are open adoptions where the biological parent has some involvement in the child’s life, but the functioning parent is the adoptive parent.
God may have put him in this child’s life for a purpose, but only he can determine this. I think of Pharaoh’s daughter who took Moses in, even thought she knew he was a Hebrew child and had a biological mother. But this decision is one that only he can make. If we look at it from a purely human perspective, the easiest and probably smartest thing would be to walk away from the entire mess. Yet God may want him involved in this child’s life. So I’d encourage you as his mother to pray for him, encourage him to seek Godly wisdom and counsel, to pray about it and ask God what is best for him and for this little girl.
I wish I could give you more specifics but sadly, there are too many unanswered questions and more than one “right” answer.
But I know that God will give you wisdom as you ask him for he promises us that. He knows the beginning from the end and he will instruct your son if he will turn to him for his counsel. Perhaps this will be the time for your son to return to his faith. It is too big and too important a decision to make on his own.
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