Am I being insensitive because I don't care?


#1

I grew up in a household without a father and didn’t know who he was. I prayed very fervently that I could one day meet my father and at age 7 my mother finally got in contact with him and I got to meet him. Now it’s been 9 years and I suddenly find out I have all of these “siblings” that my father never told me about. My father’s girlfriend had another child, despite not being married to my father and now they (my mother, my father and his girlfriend) want me to be close to this child I don’t even know. The news that my father’s girlfriend had another child was more than enough for me to handle, now all of a sudden I am expected to care about this child born out of wedlock.

Even though the mother of that child is nice to me, I hardly even know the woman and I am not in the slightest bit interested in getting to know the child. While she (the child) might be related to me through my father, just the fact that I am expected to suddenly be a big brother figure to someone I don’t even know who lives several miles away from me seems ridiculous. I don’t have any hostile feelings toward this child or her mother, but I am just not interested in getting to know her. In fact, I don’t even KNOW if my father is the father of that child because she (mother) never told me. All she said is that the child is my “sister”. Well, she also calls her other children who are not related to me AT ALL my siblings so what am I supposed to think?

Am I being insensitive?


#2

Well you cannot instantly become close to someone or manufacture feelings for them. But, if you are a part of your father's life you will also be a part of this sister's life. And, your sister is not to blame for your father and her mother's poor choices.

So, I encourage you to make the effort to know and love your sister as the family that she is and not reject her.


#3

You are sixteen yrs old.
Your duty for now is to become a holy adult.
You are very wise to resist forming
"instant relationships" with strangers.
Honoring your father does not require you
to become a “member” of an imaginary family.

Proceed with your good decision-making.
IMO, your instincts are very healthy, not at all insensitive.


#4

It’s totally natural to have ambivalent feelings about this new revelation and the expectations from his parents and his father’s “girlfriend”. It’s not out of place to resist it, and it is of course not required to manufacture feelings for anyone. It is not required to consider the children of a parent’s consort or common law wife to be siblings when they are not related by blood at all.

Having said that, holiness does not require this young man to avoid a relationship with the children in his father’s current household, whether those children are related to the young man or not. These other children are innocent of any immorality that their parents chose or are choosing, as innocent as the OP is.

I think that when one prays fervently for something, though, it is important to pay attention to the aftermath of those prayers, welcome or not. If there is an opportunity for pay a kindness to those you meet as a result of your prayers being answered, consider doing that. It may be that all they ever know of the Catholic faith will be what they learn through you. That is a lot to put on 16 year old shoulders, though. I would strongly suggest that the OP have several talks with his pastor as he goes through this and tries to navigate what he needs to do and what he wants to do. He’s going to need some wise guidance, and I think guidance from a discrete and well-grounded adult other than his parents would be very good for him.


#5

[quote="EasterJoy, post:4, topic:226810"]
It's totally natural to have ambivalent feelings about this new revelation and the expectations from his parents and his father's "girlfriend". It's not out of place to resist it, and it is of course not required to manufacture feelings for anyone. It is not required to consider the children of a parent's consort or common law wife to be siblings when they are not related by blood at all.

Having said that, holiness does not require this young man to avoid a relationship with the children in his father's current household, whether those children are related to the young man or not. These other children are innocent of any immorality that their parents chose or are choosing, as innocent as the OP is.

I think that when one prays fervently for something, though, it is important to pay attention to the aftermath of those prayers, welcome or not. If there is an opportunity for pay a kindness to those you meet as a result of your prayers being answered, consider doing that. It may be that all they ever know of the Catholic faith will be what they learn through you. That is a lot to put on 16 year old shoulders, though. I would strongly suggest that the OP have several talks with his pastor as he goes through this and tries to navigate what he needs to do and what he wants to do. He's going to need some wise guidance, and I think guidance from a discrete and well-grounded adult other than his parents would be very good for him.

[/quote]

I've no disagreement with your statements.
I recognize (simply) that this child bears NO responsibility in this matter.
It's obvious that manipulation could be used to involve offspring.
Yet the parents are without a primary concern for THIS offspring.

Agree that if the OP continues any of the relationships,
it should be under the guidance of a priest, counselor, confessor.


#6

I talked to a grandmother yesterday who said she felt like the grandchildren she rarely saw were strangers and admitted she didn’t care as much about them as the ones she saw frequently, so it’s not unreasonable at all that you would have a similar lack of connection to relatives you have never met. These children are strangers to you despite the loose blood connection. You shouldn’t feel guilty for not feeling a strong sense of love to them, but you should try to care about them the same way you would care about anyone else. Whether or not that involves regular contact with them is entirely up to you. To be honest, I would be a little wary of gettign too close to that side of the family given their issues and circumstances. Sometimes you can get dragged into some nasty situations.


#7

IMO, very good advice without a pressure to “perform” as a loving older sibling.


#8

What makes this relationship problematic for me and the way I see things is: from what I can see, my father does not live with his girlfriend. So even though the child may grow up with her father being right around the corner, he’s not really there and could leave whenever he wants, if leaving were to be his prerogative.

The other day my father was having a conversation about me, wondering if I even care about him anymore because I rarely call him. If anything, my apathy towards him would be the result of him showing little to no interest in me. It’s surprising that he would wonder why I feel the way I do when he has constantly forgotten my birthdays, not shown up on Christmas, called or even sent a postcard when he knows I don’t know any of his various numbers and his blatant disinterest in coming to pick up the present I got for him when he knows neither my mother nor I can drive. I got tired of always calling him and him never calling first so I just stopped and he would call maybe every once in a couple of months or so. Perhaps the way my father has been might partially be the reason why I feel no interest in getting to know this child.


#9

[quote="Daegus, post:8, topic:226810"]
What makes this relationship problematic for me and the way I see things is: from what I can see, my father does not live with his girlfriend. So even though the child may grow up with her father being right around the corner, he's not really there and could leave whenever he wants, if leaving were to be his prerogative.

The other day my father was having a conversation about me, wondering if I even care about him anymore because I rarely call him. If anything, my apathy towards him would be the result of him showing little to no interest in me. It's surprising that he would wonder why I feel the way I do when he has constantly forgotten my birthdays, not shown up on Christmas, called or even sent a postcard when he knows I don't know any of his various numbers and his blatant disinterest in coming to pick up the present I got for him when he knows neither my mother nor I can drive. I got tired of always calling him and him never calling first so I just stopped and he would call maybe every once in a couple of months or so. Perhaps the way my father has been might partially be the reason why I feel no interest in getting to know this child.

[/quote]

It's not surprising to me.
Clearly he's made massive mistakes with his llife and he's in denial about that.
If he can manage to "blame" anyone else, he needn't look at himself.

You likely know best what is best for you.
As others have stated: an "outside adult" might help you see that.
A priest, school counselor, coach, confessor ... take your pick.
You need NOT deal with this mess on your own.
Thanks for coming to this site and being so honest with us.


#10

[quote="Daegus, post:8, topic:226810"]
The other day my father was having a conversation about me, wondering if I even care about him anymore because I rarely call him. If anything, my apathy towards him would be the result of him showing little to no interest in me. It's surprising that he would wonder why I feel the way I do when he has constantly forgotten my birthdays, not shown up on Christmas, called or even sent a postcard when he knows I don't know any of his various numbers and his blatant disinterest in coming to pick up the present I got for him when he knows neither my mother nor I can drive. I got tired of always calling him and him never calling first so I just stopped and he would call maybe every once in a couple of months or so.

[/quote]

If this is how you feel, you should definitely tell him. It is better for him to know what has been going on in your head rather than have him speculate and come to false conclusions. I think having him understanding where you're coming from on this would go a long way towards helping you have a better relationship with him and his family.


#11

[quote="Charlotte1776, post:10, topic:226810"]
If this is how you feel, you should definitely tell him. It is better for him to know what has been going on in your head rather than have him speculate and come to false conclusions. I think having him understanding where you're coming from on this would go a long way towards helping you have a better relationship with him and his family.

[/quote]

Now, I haven't specifically told him about any of the things that I feel, but I did tell my mother and from what I can understand she told him and to my not-so-surprising surprise, he made up various excuses. "Oh I'm old..", etc. I know that my father has the tendency to make excuses and that's why I am very reluctant to talk to him about this. The chance of our conversation going nowhere and bearing no fruit is rather high.

Also, his side of the family really doesn't seem to have any interest in getting to know me. My mother told me that when I was a child, my father's mother and his other girlfriend at the time discouraged him from getting to know me. I don't know why anyone would do that but it seems like there are all kinds of people in this world. Whenever my father brings me up to his house to visit where my paternal grandmother lives, she always happens to be conveniently on vacation. I'm positively convinced that his mother is not interested in knowing me. I've never heard my grandmother's voice, nor do I know what she even looks like despite the fact that she is alive and well.


#12

[quote="Daegus, post:11, topic:226810"]
Now, I haven't specifically told him about any of the things that I feel, but I did tell my mother and from what I can understand she told him and to my not-so-surprising surprise, he made up various excuses. "Oh I'm old..", etc. I know that my father has the tendency to make excuses and that's why I am very reluctant to talk to him about this. The chance of our conversation going nowhere and bearing no fruit is rather high.

Also, his side of the family really doesn't seem to have any interest in getting to know me. My mother told me that when I was a child, my father's mother and his other girlfriend at the time discouraged him from getting to know me. I don't know why anyone would do that but it seems like there are all kinds of people in this world. Whenever my father brings me up to his house to visit where my paternal grandmother lives, she always happens to be conveniently on vacation. I'm positively convinced that his mother is not interested in knowing me. I've never heard my grandmother's voice, nor do I know what she even looks like despite the fact that she is alive and well.

[/quote]

PLEASE - do not attempt to endure this alone.
You need and deserve advice and comfort and support.
You do not need to bow down to "family pressure."
Doing so would only assure your father
that he bears no fault for this horrible scene.
You are right to be very self-protective.

No sixteen-yr-old should walk this path alone.
Frankly it's simply a dangerous path. You deserve guidance.
God bless you!


#13

It seems to me that regardless of what you, your mother, your father, the mother of your sister, and your sister wish would happen, your relationship with this girl is ultimately going to depend more on the nature of contact than on blood.

It’s unclear from your post how much time you spend with your father and how much contact you are going to have with your sister. It is not clear how much contact your father has with this daughter. It would be completely unreasonable for the adults to expect you to form a closer relationship with your sister than your sister has with your father. On the other hand if both of you and your sister get together with your father then you would be reasonably expected to form a relationship such as all siblings who share a parent might have.

I would add that sibling relationships (full, half, and step) tend to be closer if the siblings share a household more than 50% of the time. And even when sibling do share a home there will be some relationships that are closer than others. Step-siblings who share a household are likely to be closer than full or half siblings who only see each other on weekends and holidays.

My suggestion is that you treat this sister as you would any seldom seen but honored relative. You probably have cousins, aunts, and uncles who are like this. The situation is often awkward. But you can be polite and hospitable when you see your sister. Give her a card on her birthday. Communicate with her about any business concerning your father. You never know… you might decide you actually like your sister. But even if not, you are learning how to behave in a civilized manner.

Adults spend plenty of time politely interacting with work associates, neighbors, in-laws, etc. Often these are people who are more likely to be competitors than sharers of affection.


#14

While I agree with others that you shouldn’t have to deal with this on your own (you really do need to find an adult you can talk too) I don’t think you’re being insensitive. I do think that you should just be kind any time you are with these “siblings”. There’s no reason to go out of your way.

My parents are divorced and I am pretty ambivalent toward my father. I don’t call him, he does call me once a month or so just to check in. I don’t have any problems talking to him, we just talk about the weather, politics, economics and the grand kids. When we lived closer he would come and visit once a month for the afternoon. Again, no problem.

As a previous poster has said, just treat them like long-lost relatives. Kindly and respectfully and let that be that.


#15

Daegus,

you’ve got some good advice here. Make sure that you are not manipulated into doing anything that you don’t feel is right. Because, no matter what the family members say, you are the victim of your father’s selfish actions. You deserve better than a father who doesn’t care, who manipulates you and feels he deserves better treatment after all that.

I completely understand how you feel because I am in a similar situation. I hope that I can help you get a sense of perspective on things.

I have 2 step-brothers who are 5 years old and 5 months old. I’m 34, so you get the picture. My father although physically present in my life was always disengaged and distant and I grew up feeling rejected. I suffered a lot as a child and young adult. He is a very manipulative person who now wants me to consider his kids to be my brothers.
Now, I really don’t blame the children for the way my dad has treated me (and my real brother), and I don’t want to punish them in any way. I actually hope they have good and happy lives and that they get much love in their family because all children deserve that. But I have no sisterly feelings for them. I understand that we are related but I just don’t feel it. I don’t consider them to be my brothers. I think that under the circumstances that is completely natural. I am very polite to their mother and we have a good relationship, but that is all. ( my dad left my mom for this woman 10 years ago and the whole thing was a disgusting mess, so that probably contributes to the way I feel. )

There is a way for you to be polite with your half-siblings and to have a relationship with your dad, but without going out of your way and making it seem that everyhing is OK. Maybe one day you will be close to your half-siblings, and maybe you won’t. That’s life. But remember, you have no responsibility for this, you deserve better, including not to be manipulated by adults. Maybe you could speak to someone, a priest as well as a counsellor. That helped me a lot when I was faced with family problems.

God bless.


#16

[quote="Contra_Mundum, post:15, topic:226810"]
Daegus,

you've got some good advice here. Make sure that you are not manipulated into doing anything that you don't feel is right. Because, no matter what the family members say, you are the victim of your father's selfish actions. You deserve better than a father who doesn't care, who manipulates you and feels he deserves better treatment after all that.

I completely understand how you feel because I am in a similar situation. I hope that I can help you get a sense of perspective on things.

I have 2 step-brothers who are 5 years old and 5 months old. I'm 34, so you get the picture. My father although physically present in my life was always disengaged and distant and I grew up feeling rejected. I suffered a lot as a child and young adult. He is a very manipulative person who now wants me to consider his kids to be my brothers.
Now, I really don't blame the children for the way my dad has treated me (and my real brother), and I don't want to punish them in any way. I actually hope they have good and happy lives and that they get much love in their family because all children deserve that. But I have no sisterly feelings for them. I understand that we are related but I just don't feel it. I don't consider them to be my brothers. I think that under the circumstances that is completely natural. I am very polite to their mother and we have a good relationship, but that is all. ( my dad left my mom for this woman 10 years ago and the whole thing was a disgusting mess, so that probably contributes to the way I feel. )

There is a way for you to be polite with your half-siblings and to have a relationship with your dad, but without going out of your way and making it seem that everyhing is OK. Maybe one day you will be close to your half-siblings, and maybe you won't. That's life. But remember, you have no responsibility for this, you deserve better, including not to be manipulated by adults. Maybe you could speak to someone, a priest as well as a counsellor. That helped me a lot when I was faced with family problems.

God bless.

[/quote]

Amen.


#17

You have received excellent advice from the other posters. I hope you will listen to them.

I have had a similar situation. My father left our family when I was 14. He moved in with a woman who had 2 young children and basically raised them as his own. As for my relationship with the two children, though pressured to treat them as family, I have never considered them to be family and they do not consider me family.

I have sad respect for what these two children have gone through and feel kindly toward them but they are not family. I see the suffering in their lives caused by the selfish choices made by their both of their parents and it pains me, but for either of us to try to pretend or force a "family relationship" would be a lie and cause further damage to our own dignities. They have been damaged enough by the parent's actions and so have I.

This child your biological dad has fathered, may have the same disadvantages (a mother who makes poor choices and a father who has no real interest in be a parent). If you feel drawn to this child(with warm and loving affection), then perhaps it's the Holy Spirit is guiding you to a relationship with her. If you do not, (as you say) then I would listen to this voice carefully also. God will let you know if and when He wants you to have a relationship with this child. A forced relationship based on feelings of guilt (where there is nothing sinful in your actions)is not ,in my opinion, healthy for you or the child.

Pray for her as you would any person who you find in a bad situation. God will let you know if and when more is required of you.


#18

[quote="m_crane, post:17, topic:226810"]
You have received excellent advice from the other posters. I hope you will listen to them.

I have had a similar situation. My father left our family when I was 14. He moved in with a woman who had 2 young children and basically raised them as his own. As for my relationship with the two children, though pressured to treat them as family, I have never considered them to be family and they do not consider me family.

I have sad respect for what these two children have gone through and feel kindly toward them but they are not family. I see the suffering in their lives caused by the selfish choices made by their both of their parents and it pains me, but for either of us to try to pretend or force a "family relationship" would be a lie and cause further damage to our own dignities. They have been damaged enough by the parent's actions and so have I.

This child your biological dad has fathered, may have the same disadvantages (a mother who makes poor choices and a father who has no real interest in be a parent). If you feel drawn to this child(with warm and loving affection), then perhaps it's the Holy Spirit is guiding you to a relationship with her. If you do not, (as you say) then I would listen to this voice carefully also. God will let you know if and when He wants you to have a relationship with this child. A forced relationship based on feelings of guilt (where there is nothing sinful in your actions)is not ,in my opinion, healthy for you or the child.

Pray for her as you would any person who you find in a bad situation. God will let you know if and when more is required of you.

[/quote]

:thumbsup:


#19

Daegus,

So a lot of adults in your life have treated relationships as disposable to be maintained/abandoned at their convenience.

Now they expect you to form a relationship with someone at their whim.

It is no surprise that you would feel ambivalent at forming a relationship with someone because they are "family" given the example of what "family" has meant to these various adults. What they have shown you, the values they have passed on.

We can't help our feelings, so you feel what you feel. Now, we need to control our actions and not let our feelings override our brains. You've shown you're aware of this by asking here if you're being reasonable. It would be completely unnatural to have feelings for some person who's a stranger no matter what label you put on their relation to you. Given your circumstances and the hypocrisy of the situation, it's particularly understandable. But in understanding where your feelings are coming from, you should decide for yourself - regardless of the motives/actions of others- whether you want a relationship with this child in the future. Unfortunately, from the sound of it, any relationship you attempt to have will be risky because of the adults in your life. You can't guarantee that you can pursue it, even if you want to, because their actions could impede or end it. That is, how will you see this child? If it becomes inconvenient for the adults to continue supporting it- i.e. making sure you have time with her. Will they stop? Will you lose another person from your life because their interest in you having a relationship with the kids wanes?

Bottom line, your feelings are completely understandable. Whether you end up having a relationship is up to you, she may be a fantastic kid and you could be a great influence. But as you've shown by asking, you need to understand yourself and why you want to pursue the connection and how realistically that can be done given your family.


#20

[quote="styrgwillidar, post:19, topic:226810"]
Daegus,

So a lot of adults in your life have treated relationships as disposable to be maintained/abandoned at their convenience.

Now they expect you to form a relationship with someone at their whim.

It is no surprise that you would feel ambivalent at forming a relationship with someone because they are "family" given the example of what "family" has meant to these various adults. What they have shown you, the values they have passed on.

We can't help our feelings, so you feel what you feel. Now, we need to control our actions and not let our feelings override our brains. You've shown you're aware of this by asking here if you're being reasonable. It would be completely unnatural to have feelings for some person who's a stranger no matter what label you put on their relation to you. Given your circumstances and the hypocrisy of the situation, it's particularly understandable. But in understanding where your feelings are coming from, you should decide for yourself - regardless of the motives/actions of others- whether you want a relationship with this child in the future. Unfortunately, from the sound of it, any relationship you attempt to have will be risky because of the adults in your life. You can't guarantee that you can pursue it, even if you want to, because their actions could impede or end it. That is, how will you see this child? If it becomes inconvenient for the adults to continue supporting it- i.e. making sure you have time with her. Will they stop? Will you lose another person from your life because their interest in you having a relationship with the kids wanes?

Bottom line, your feelings are completely understandable. Whether you end up having a relationship is up to you, she may be a fantastic kid and you could be a great influence. But as you've shown by asking, you need to understand yourself and why you want to pursue the connection and how realistically that can be done given your family.

[/quote]

Completely agree. Red flags all over the field!


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