I've sinned *greatly* against my family


#1

This could get lengthy, and as I typed it I realized how complicated it is.

Late in high school I went through the usual teen angst rebelling against my parents, didn't want to be compared to my two older brothers, etc. and in retrospect was just in a bad place. I ended up getting her pregnant and was there when the baby was born in early 1998, however I exited the picture not long thereafter. Everyone in my family, while probably disagreeing with my actions, respected my decision and left it alone. It was a bad time in my life that I don't like to talk about nor care to remember.

I went on with my life, got married in 2003. I'm Catholic, she's Jewish. We were married by a rabbi because at that time I told my fiancée that we'd raise our kids in both faiths and a Catholic priest was not cool with that. As time went on, with no kids, I came to the conclusion we should do one or the other. She's pretty bent on raising them Jewish.

At the end of November my father passed away. After a few months I decided I wanted to back in full communion with the church, because that's how he brought me up, so I contacted our parish priest and told him that "Yes, she's pretty stubborn about it but I'm committed to trying to get her to change her mind and doing what I can to make sure any children we have are raised Catholic." So last weekend our marriage was convalidated (yay!).

This brings us to the present day. My brothers have kids, her sister has a boy, all in all we have six nephews and one niece. You can imagine my wife has baby fever. I'm hesitant to have a baby now because we can hardly afford our own lives, plus she never graduated high school (which I didn't find out about until 5 years of marriage - but that's another therapy session) and has other habits I'm not fond of. I'm not comfortable bringing a baby into that situation. I think she'll quit her habit if she's pregnant but I really, really believe she has no intention of ever finishing high school. What's incredibly aggravating about that situation is she was laid off in January 2009, and between then and October was turned down for at least two jobs because of those two issues (one required a urine test and her habit showed up and the other called her HS, which of course said she was a 1/2 credit short - that's how I found out). One would think that if either of those prevented a job the problems would be remedied. I almost feel like she's not the woman I married almost seven years ago. Anyway…

It's probably seeing my brothers with their kids, my father's passing, wanting to raise a child Catholic, all of that plus the main fact that I feel like I've been a terrible father, that I want to reach out and see if it's too late to be a part of his life. He's only 12 so hopefully he hasn't reached the point where he totally understands what happened. But I also find myself wondering if he's at all like me. Did he get my long eyelashes? Does he have the wave in his hair like I do that I got from my dad? I have so many questions that I want answered but I'm worried that his mother will reject me. I want to take it all very, very slow; I don't think it would serve anyone well for me to just show up. I was thinking I'd call his mother, ask her to meet me somewhere to have coffee or lunch and just talk. Get her input on the matter. Then maybe do the same with him. The three of us go out to lunch. Then introduce my wife, my family, all of that, but slowly. The other thing that worries me is that he has a younger brother in the same situation. She got pregnant and the father left. I'm worried that he'll ask questions, like "Why does Josh have a dad now? Where's mine?" If I had the financial means I wouldn't hesitate to be a father to him too. Obviously if we went to a ballgame I'd invite him along but I can't be responsible for his schooling, clothes, etc.

I've also taken into consideration how this was going to explained to my niece and nephews. How their uncle had a baby when he was very young but couldn't be there for him. How they have a cousin they've never met, and likely won't. I've decided it's not fair to them, or anyone in my family.

But my biggest overall concern is how to handle this situation and will I be accepted. I'm sure they have some unkind words for me, which I richly deserve, but at the same time, doesn't it say something that I'm finally stepping up? I'll always regret missing the first 12 years but I really want to be there now, especially since my father passed. That's when I realized what I had and what he should have had.

Any advice, even if it's mean-spirited (I can take it, I deserve it), is welcome.


#2

hi, you have a lot of issues here.

I guess my best advice would be how bad do you wish to make your marriage work, and being that you had it blessed, I think you do.

If your wife is using drugs, then, you guys should not bring kids into the world.
How do you know she would not go back to her habit once the baby is born?

I guess that is about all I have to say. It is good you come back to the church though!
welcome back!
I would encourage professional family or individual counseling.


#3

[quote="HollyMustardSee, post:2, topic:202970"]
hi, you have a lot of issues here.

If your wife is using drugs, then, you guys should not bring kids into the world.
How do you know she would not go back to her habit once the baby is born?

[/quote]

hehe, understatement of the year. :)

i know she wouldn't go back because she wouldn't expose the child to that. i smoke from time to time (mostly in a social setting) but i wouldn't even think about it if we had kids.

really, though, that's the least of my concerns right now. I'm more focused on finding and becoming a part of my son's life after 12 years of trying to forget it.


#4

[quote="HollyMustardSee, post:2, topic:202970"]
hi, you have a lot of issues here.

I guess my best advice would be how bad do you wish to make your marriage work, and being that you had it blessed, I think you do.

If your wife is using drugs, then, you guys should not bring kids into the world.
How do you know she would not go back to her habit once the baby is born?

I guess that is about all I have to say. It is good you come back to the church though!
welcome back!
I would encourage professional family or individual counseling.

[/quote]

I resent that comment. You do not have "issues", you are a normal person with the same normal perdiciments we run into during life. God has destined us for perfection, the reason that everything worth living for in life is hard is not a sheer Irony, but God's law of the universe.

1) Self Sacrafice- Give of yourself for the good of your family, cut out daily pleasures that cost money and time and reinvest that into your family

2) Recommit- To God, then your family. If there is a wall here "that there is no God" or "he doesnt help" give up on my post, God is the center of self servitude and sacrafice. God loves you more than you love your child, if your child came with to you wiht a serious problem, you would want to do everything in your power to whats best for him, In God trust.

God is here, and if he is for you none can be against, you are not the first to run into a situation like this, and will not be the last.

Peace of Jesus of Nazereth be with you

-Steave


#5

You have to clean your own life up before getting involved with your son's. I don't mean to sound harsh, but I would be very hesitant to let the guy that ran out on me twelve years ago start becoming a part of mine/my son's life if he weren't in a good place.

So you need to focus on baby steps. What can you change in your life to make it better? You can't change your wife, but you can tell her that she needs to stop doing drugs. I mean, really, at some point you have to grow up. And I can't see how you can afford them... But that is another thing altogether. You can only control your actions, so do things that will bring yourself closer to God. How can you raise your child to be Catholic if you don't live a Catholic lifestyle?

That being said, I don't think it would be horrible to contact the mom of your son, but by email or letter. I wouldn't call- it could be weird and uncomfortable for her. I would tell her that you are sorry about how things worked out, but you would like to start getting to know your son. Don't be surprised if she is highly uninterested. And you have to respect that. But it is not a one shot deal. If she shoots you down once, calmly accept that, but then send her another letter in a month or so, let her know that you are a different person and that you would love to get to know your son. I really hope that she is forgiving, but it might be a process.

In the meantime, you have to get your life together. When you trust in God, He will give you strength. Perhaps it is time to truly put your trust in Him. I wish you the best of luck and I will keep you in my prayers.


#6

[quote="bnbkaine, post:5, topic:202970"]
You have to clean your own life up before getting involved with your son's. I don't mean to sound harsh, but I would be very hesitant to let the guy that ran out on me twelve years ago start becoming a part of mine/my son's life if he weren't in a good place.

So you need to focus on baby steps. What can you change in your life to make it better? You can't change your wife, but you can tell her that she needs to stop doing drugs. I mean, really, at some point you have to grow up. And I can't see how you can afford them... But that is another thing altogether. You can only control your actions, so do things that will bring yourself closer to God. How can you raise your child to be Catholic if you don't live a Catholic lifestyle?

That being said, I don't think it would be horrible to contact the mom of your son, but by email or letter. I wouldn't call- it could be weird and uncomfortable for her. I would tell her that you are sorry about how things worked out, but you would like to start getting to know your son. Don't be surprised if she is highly uninterested. And you have to respect that. But it is not a one shot deal. If she shoots you down once, calmly accept that, but then send her another letter in a month or so, let her know that you are a different person and that you would love to get to know your son. I really hope that she is forgiving, but it might be a process.

In the meantime, you have to get your life together. When you trust in God, He will give you strength. Perhaps it is time to truly put your trust in Him. I wish you the best of luck and I will keep you in my prayers.

[/quote]

I totally agree with this post but I just wanted to point something out.

Even if the mother decides she doesn't want the OP around their son at all, legally speaking the OP could seek legal action and gain visitation rights to him anyway. However this is only if the mother hasn't had the OP's rights terminated. If his rights have been terminated (due to abandonment) then he's completely at the mercy of his son's mother.

CatholicJHwk, I'm not suggesting that you should seek legal action as I think that isn't a fair thing to impose upon your son and his mother. But I don't know, your son may benefit from having you involved. Pray to God to discern His Will. Let Him lead the way.

God bless


#7

What does your wife think of you reuniting with your son, after all these years? My husband reunited with his 2 adult daughters, after many, many years, with my support, and it still was an unbelievable change in our lives, emotionally and financially. I would also seek some legal advice and see what your rights and responsibilities are in your situation, before you make contact; even if you and your wife aren't rich and prosperous you might be better off than your son's mother and it wouldn't be too late for her to seek some kind of child support.


#8

thanks for all the good advice so far. i'll try to fill in some details that i left out.

[quote="bnbkaine, post:5, topic:202970"]
You have to clean your own life up before getting involved with your son's. I don't mean to sound harsh, but I would be very hesitant to let the guy that ran out on me twelve years ago start becoming a part of mine/my son's life if he weren't in a good place.

So you need to focus on baby steps. What can you change in your life to make it better? You can't change your wife, but you can tell her that she needs to stop doing drugs. I mean, really, at some point you have to grow up. And I can't see how you can afford them... But that is another thing altogether. You can only control your actions, so do things that will bring yourself closer to God. How can you raise your child to be Catholic if you don't live a Catholic lifestyle?

[/quote]

My personal life isn't all that bad. I don't do drugs or anything like that (I, like most American teenagers, experimented when I was a teenager and it just wasn't my cup of tea) and I agree wholeheartedly with you. I find it juvenile, plus I point out the fact that if it was ok she could run to Walgreen's and get it whenever she wanted (good thing we don't live in CA!). So I, personally, strive to live as a Catholic to the best of my ability.

That being said, I don't think it would be horrible to contact the mom of your son, but by email or letter. I wouldn't call- it could be weird and uncomfortable for her. I would tell her that you are sorry about how things worked out, but you would like to start getting to know your son. Don't be surprised if she is highly uninterested. And you have to respect that. But it is not a one shot deal. If she shoots you down once, calmly accept that, but then send her another letter in a month or so, let her know that you are a different person and that you would love to get to know your son. I really hope that she is forgiving, but it might be a process.
This is exactly what I expect. Although I do like your idea of email or letter rather than calling. I was trying to imagine how the conversation would go and it probably would sound better in the form of a letter. Especially because we didn't end on the best of terms. I wouldn't be surprised if she just erases/burns it without reading.

[quote="jenlovesyu, post:6, topic:202970"]

Even if the mother decides she doesn't want the OP around their son at all, legally speaking the OP could seek legal action and gain visitation rights to him anyway. However this is only if the mother hasn't had the OP's rights terminated. If his rights have been terminated (due to abandonment) then he's completely at the mercy of his son's mother.

[/quote]

I honestly haven't given any thought to getting the law involved. I don't think that would be good for anyone, considering the damage I've already done.

[quote="Catholic1954, post:7, topic:202970"]
What does your wife think of you reuniting with your son, after all these years? My husband reunited with his 2 adult daughters, after many, many years, with my support, and it still was an unbelievable change in our lives, emotionally and financially. I would also seek some legal advice and see what your rights and responsibilities are in your situation, before you make contact; even if you and your wife aren't rich and prosperous you might be better off than your son's mother and it wouldn't be too late for her to seek some kind of child support.

[/quote]

I haven't talked to her about it yet because I'm still meditating on the whole thing. I think she'll be supportive of it - she's actually asked me if I wanted to get him something for Christmas the last couple of years but I said no because I thought it would be weird for him to get a present from someone he hasn't seen in 10 years, much less someone who claims to be his father. I'm not sure if you mean support, as in going to school plays, etc. or if you mean financial support. I've paid child support since he was born and he's been on my medical, dental, and vision insurance as well.

I'm also active in Boy Scouts as a unit commissioner (I never quit, it had a huge impact on me as a youth - plus I have too much fun to quit!) and that of course has become increasingly difficult to deal with as I see other fathers with their kids and I can't help but think to myself "We could be doing that...but..."

I told myself when I was 21 and he was born that he'd be better off without me. It took me 12 years to realize I couldn't have been more wrong. And I'll admit that selfishly, if I died tomorrow the one thing that would have an ugly glare on my resume was "ignored son". It's quite an emotional roller coaster.


closed #9

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.