How far must we take the 4th Commandment? Father vs Family


#1

I apologize for the length, but this has been causing me serious distress and would like some advice and thoughts before I continue.

To try to make this quick, my father is in an immoral relationship with a woman while his wife, my mother, is in an irreversible coma. He knows how we feel about it. However, as I live away for college, when I come down, I make try my best to put disagreements aside so that I can don't lose another parent. He has just about fully integrated this woman and her children into his side of the family while keeping her a secret from my mom's side of the family (for obvious reasons, though my sick grandfather, her father, found out recently).

Anyways, this is where I have my question. We will be going on vacation for a few days after Christmas. The city we will be going to is where my mom's brother (my godfather) and his daughters (my cousins, one of them my own goddaughter) live. I rarely get to see them because of the distance, especially now when I am away in college if he does visit, I'm away.

My mom's side of the family is small and generally older (all except her and her brother). She was the glue that kept everyone together so now that she is in her condition, the family just lost touch and we don't all hang out together anymore.

I love my godfather and cousins dearly and hate that I never see them. After talking to my dad, he said (and I didn't argue at the time because I wanted to keep the peace) that I was to post nothing of the trip on Facebook or tell my uncle that we will be going. Why? His "girlfriend" and her children will be with us and he doesn't want my uncle to find out or cause trouble or make it uncomfortable for his girlfriend.

Though now that I think about it, I don't think it's fair that he can dictate to us not to see our relatives whom we barely get the chance to see just because his girlfriend, who we have serious problems with because of their relationship, is coming. After all, he asks us not to make him have to choose her or us when it comes to family events or stuff. It is only fair to ask him not to make us choose between her or my mom's side of the family (my mom's side of the family wins every time).

Would it be out of bounds to talk to him before he goes to spend the night at her place and say, "Dad, I'm sorry, but I love Mom's side of the family. I love my uncle and my cousins that I barely see and because I love them and barely see them, I would like to go see them when we are there. They won't have to go to the theme parks with us, but I will drive over to their house to spend time with them. They are my family."

Is that out of line?

How far do I have to take the 4th commandment of honoring my father and my commitment and love for my family?

Honestly, I try to be nice to his girlfriend and stuff because I am sick of fighting with him over it and I want to have a relationship with my remaining parent, however, I think there comes a time where I need to at least stand up for my right to see my family.

Any thoughts? Prayers would be appreciated.


#2

"Children owe their parents respect, gratitude, just obedience, and assistance."--Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2251.

Also: "Family ties are important but not absolute. Just as the child grows to maturity and human and spiritual autonomy, so his unique vocation which comes from God asserts itself more clearly and forcefully. Parents should respect this call and encourage their children to follow it. They must be convinced that the first vocation of the Christian is to follow Jesus."--CCC 2232.

Children, in honoring their parents, have no authority to tell their parents who they can and cannot have a relationship with, but neither is it your responsibility to be discreet about their choice if it causes you undue hardship or keeps you from loving and honoring others.

While it might be the kind thing to do, if you are an adult child then you don't owe your father an explanation regarding who you see or have relationships with, especially those who are your relatives. It would be an unfaithful exercise of the duties of a father to demand you give up such autonomy, even if you were a minor.

Now if exposing your father's relationship would create undue stress to others you wish to visit, then you must weigh things accordingly. But if this is not the case and there is no harm to your father save that others may give him a hard time about it, your father needs to be an adult--and adults take responsibility for what they do in life, including their relationships. The same goes for his girlfriend.


#3

Praying for you


#4

The thing is my dad doesn't want to risk my uncle knowing about his relationship. I'd have to come up with a reason as to why my father isn't visiting them with us or why we don't want to go to the parks with them. There's always the risk of them going anyways, but at that point I don't see it as my problem.

It will be hard convincing my dad who is to defensive of his girlfriend at our expense. I decided this time I'm not going to back down and want to see my family.

I just don't see it going well.


#5

You do understand that honoring your father has nothing to do with facilitating his sinful behavior, right?

If your father doesn't like the consquences of people finding out his shameful secret then he shouldn't be with this woman.

Go see your family. You owe your father no protection or cover for his behavior. It is not dishonoring him to see your own family. You are an adult, and he is being manipulative.

You need not bring up the situation with your mother's family, but if asked you need not lie either. I would try hard not to cause them any more pain than they already must feel with her situation.

Your father knows what he is doing is wrong. And he's trying to manipulate you into pretending it's not wrong. Shame on him.


#6

[quote="SalesianSDB, post:4, topic:348870"]
The thing is my dad doesn't want to risk my uncle knowing about his relationship.

[/quote]

Then he should stop committing adultery.

[quote="SalesianSDB, post:4, topic:348870"]
I'd have to come up with a reason as to why my father isn't visiting them with us or why we don't want to go to the parks with them. There's always the risk of them going anyways, but at that point I don't see it as my problem.

[/quote]

You should not take any of this on yourself. If they ask why he isn't visiting them, you should say "You'll have to ask him."

[quote="SalesianSDB, post:4, topic:348870"]
It will be hard convincing my dad who is to defensive of his girlfriend at our expense.

[/quote]

I suggest you not do any convincing. As an adult you do not need to "convince" him. You simply do. Call a cab, call your family, rent a car, take a bus... whatever. Just go see them, and that is that. Frankly, you are wasting your breath on your dad, who is only interested in keeping his secret and clearly not interested in what is best for his family.

I am sorry you are going through this. I am sure your dad is not a bad person, grief can do strange things to people, and he obvioulsy isn't listening to any of you about this situation.


#7

[quote="1ke, post:6, topic:348870"]
Then he should stop committing adultery.

You should not take any of this on yourself. If they ask why he isn't visiting them, you should say "You'll have to ask him."

I suggest you not do any convincing. As an adult you do not need to "convince" him. You simply do. Call a cab, call your family, rent a car, take a bus... whatever. Just go see them, and that is that. Frankly, you are wasting your breath on your dad, who is only interested in keeping his secret and clearly not interested in what is best for his family.

I am sorry you are going through this. I am sure your dad is not a bad person, grief can do strange things to people, and he obvioulsy isn't listening to any of you about this situation.

[/quote]

:thumbsup:

Honoring father or mother doesn't mean you should have to lie for one, say, or get caught up in all this tangled web and subterfuge.


#8

By seeing your Mother’s family, you are also honoring your Mother. Your father’s actions are his own, as are any consequences for those actions. You also owe respect and love to your Godfather, as well as having a responsibility to your cousin for whom you are Godfather to visit and demonstrate your love and respect for both of them. If your father gets caught in his own trap, that is HIS problem, not yours. He is making his own choices, and you do not have to obey a command to lie from your father, mother, godfather, etc… None of them have a moral right to order you to commit a sin, particularly a conscious and serious sin. You can refrain from mentioning the situation, and simply refer your Uncle/Godfather to your Father for any answers he wants to any questions. You can honestly say “he asked me not to give his reasons for him, you will have to ask him personally if you want to know”. This is both the truth and you are also obeying your father by not discussing his irregular relationship with his brother-in-law. Is your father your support in college? Is he threatening to withdraw your ability to attend college if his brother-in-law finds out? This is not morally correct for your father to demand of you, with or without threats. It’s his place to explain himself or not as he chooses. Not yours. He’s obviously not proud of the relationship or he would not go to such lengths to keep your mother’s family from finding out. And his current relationship should not be the cause of your not seeing any member of your Mother’s family or loving them. After all, he loved them, certainly at one time, and perhaps he still does. Perhaps your uncle will be hurt if he finds out (in any way) about this relationship, but he may also be forgiving, even though he may very likely disapprove of the new relationship, particularly since his sister is still alive.


#9

As a possible compromise, perhaps you can skip posting about it on Facebook. It seems like a reasonable concession to make. But, I agree with the other posters, you should honor your mother by seeing that side of the family.


#10

Thanks everyone for your support!

So what happened was my father pretty much said OK as long as I skip going to the theme parks because there wouldn’t be time. I let it go to not cause problems with him (we get into way too many fights).

So what happened is…We were at one of the parks and my uncle mentioned on Facebook that he was heading to the same park we were at. I commented “Us too” so that if we did run into him, he wouldn’t be offended we didn’t tell him.

We ended up spending an hour or so with him and his daughters (that included my dad and his girlfriend).

Thanks again for the words of encouragement!


#11

I’m coming in late to the discussion.

I think we are called to honour that which is honourable, not that which is dishonourable.


#12

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