Moral obligation for grandparent relationship if grandpa in adulterous lifestyle?


My situation is really complicated and I am really unsure what to do. My questions are: am I morally obligated to let my father see my children – his grandchildren – honoring my father – if he is living in adultery. Or, do I have a higher moral obligation to protect my young children from his sinful and dishonest choices? Also, what do I tell my children about why grandpa is not living with grandma? My children are 6, 4, 2 and another baby on the way.

Background: My formerly respected father recently has left his faith, family, and my mom – his wife of almost 40 years. Their 40th anniversary is on August 16. He has been having an adulterous affair for around 2 years, and he says he has chosen to live the rest of his life with his co-adulterer and her young children. Even now, my mom is willing to forgive and we have all begged him for months to commit to counseling and to save his marriage. He says he has made his choice. His co-adulterer is around my age and formerly a close friend of both my mom and me. She has 5 young children ages 4-16, and my mom treated her like a daughter and her children like grandchildren. I considered her a dear friend and my children loved her and her children like family. This is a betrayal that runs very deep.

We live about 5 hours apart from my parents. My parents have a farm. My children adore their grandpa and I have made the effort to visit my parents several times a year, even choosing to home school partly to allow us to have the farm be a big part of our life.

My father is begging me to not keep my children away from him. He says I should “love the sinner, hate the sin.” I think he believes that because of my former friendship with his co-adulterer that we should be able to be one big, happy, blended family. I do not wish to condone his behavior. I know that I would never let my children be around him when he is with his “fake wife and family.” Her divorce was recently final, and they intend to marry, although I don’t think my mom will ever sign divorce papers and obviously even if she does, our Catholic faith believes that his re-marriage would not be valid and he would still be living in adultery.

My instinct is that I want to punish him and not let him see his beloved grandchildren, but that is my anger speaking. And then of course I really do not want my children to be badly influenced by his compromised character. Am I morally obligated under “honoring my father” to let him see my children? Or, I am more-so morally obligated to protect my children from his sinful lifestyle? And what do I tell my children about the situation?

My husband will support whatever choices I make, although he thinks we should just not associate with my father anymore.


I can’t speak as a parent - it’s starting to look like God may never bless us with children - but I can commiserate as an adult child of divorce. My dad left my mom seven years ago, and got remarried two years ago - like your situation, to an old family friend, our families had been connected for a long time, so I’ve known my “new” stepsisters since junior high. So I’m familiar with that kind of betrayal, and I know the anger that’s bubbled up into my nightmares. My dad, too, would like us all to be one big happy blended family. As the only Catholic in my family, and therefore the only one who believes that divorce and remarriage are seriously Not OK, I’m not really comfortable with that. For me, living half a continent away from my dad and stepmom, I’m settling for a relationship that’s polite and cordial, but stays on the surface of things. I’m not cutting them out, but I’m not in a huge hurry to go and visit them often, either.

What strikes me most about your story is that your kids already have a relationship with, and adore, their grandpa. I think it is important not to sever that relationship - grandpas, and roots, are important in so many ways. My gut feeling is that it might hurt the kids more to cut him out of their lives, and have to explain why anyway, than to keep seeing him but explain that sometimes even grandpas do things that aren’t right and that we still love him and pray for him while we make sure not to follow his example in this. That’s the peace I’ve come to when thinking about our as-yet-hypothetical children, anyway.

I found it really helpful to make an appointment with a priest I trusted and talk all this through, when the nightmares really started. This was right after they announced their engagement and I had to decide whether to go to the wedding…that point of tension between “Honor thy father and mother” versus “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery.” You might consider meeting with your priest and see if he can help you through this.

Hope that helps, and I’ll say a prayer for you and your family.


You might be trying to punish your father by denying him access to his grandchildren.

But do you have the right to deprive your children of their grandfather?

Make sure that your desire to “protect” your children is not a veiled taking vengeance on your father. Remember they doubtless contact adulterers every day–even their teachers or doctors.

Something tells me it’s not so much that he’s living in adultery. It’s that you KNOW he is doing so.

Compromise–supervised visits under mutually agreed conditions.


Can you visit when the girlfriend is not at the farm?

I never knew either of my grandfathers and my kids adored my dad (who died 4 yrs ago). I’d hate for kids to miss out on that.


My instinct is that I want to punish him and not let him see his beloved grandchildren,

I would be careful about casting stones in glass houses. How about letting the children get to know their grandfather… who knows, they may be his path back to the fullness of the Catholic Church… good luck


By not allowing your children to see their grandfather you are punishing your children for an action they didn’t participate in. I would include your dad in their life, but nothing needs to be set in stone for the long-term. Maybe have him over for dinner one night, or invite him to the park when you head out there. The hard part is going to be determining if you want to include his (mistress, future wife, something else?) in this relationship or not. I wish you luck in figuring this out!


"When the enemy shall come in like a flood,
the Spirit of the LORD

shall lift up a standard against him."
Isaiah 59:19b

It is NOT “dishonouring” your father to deny him access to his grandchildren if he is living in open mortal sin . . . rather it is your father dishonouring you as his child and your mother as his wife by openly living in such a dishonourable manner . . . which . . . he has apparently definitely chosen to so do . . . and to continue doing . . . in open defiance of God and the Catholic Church . . .

Your father has caused this miserable and painful situation for the rest of his family . . . willfully . . . **entirely of his own free will **. . . to the destruction of his own immortal soul if he does not repent . . . It is a terrible sadness and a very painful situation for everyone . . . and you and your family have every right to be concerned about the moral ramifications and this immoral life situation being presented to his grandchildren as an alternative life style to . . . God’s holy pathways for life . . . It’s dreadful that the children’s grandfather has chosen such a depraved path . . . and most certainly you all need to love and pray for him . . . however . . . and this is a big . . . HOWEVER . . . accepting this disordered lifestyle he has chosen and allowing it to be an example of how to live in your children’s daily lives would be grave error . . . children are very impressionable . . . *and don’t forget . . . your father’s soul is at stake . . . as well as your childrens . . . and if the discipline of depriving him of his grandchildren can be used by God . . . in God’s sure and loving discipline of your father . . . as He endeavors to bring your father back into the fold . . . then allow God to use the denial of grandparent privileges . . . every little bit helps to lift up the standard of a healthier and better way of life for your children . . . and to your father . . . who has definitely fallen from Grace ***. . . it is NOT unkind to cooperate with God in disciplining one of his errant children . . . permissive acceptance of disordered behavior . . . whether it is a child’s or an adult’s behavior . . . and allowing it to freely continue . . . is gravely irresponsible and disordered in itself . . . and will only cause more disorder in the family . . . and is essentially misplaced and disordered kindness . . . which inevitably causes more harm than good . . .

The best patterned discipline within the Catholic Church I have ever read comes from The Holy Rule of St. Benedict . . . which deals with such a situation within a monestary “family” . . .

+ :compcoff:
The Holy Rule of Saint Benedict - Chapter 28
Of Those Who Having Often Been Corrected Do Not Amend

March 5 - July 5 - November 4

If a brother hath often been corrected and hath even been excommunicated for a fault and doth not amend, let a more severe correction be applied to him, namely, proceed against him with corporal punishment.

But if even then he doth not reform, or puffed up with pride, should perhaps, which God forbid, even defend his actions, then let the Abbot act like a prudent physician. After he hath applied soothing lotions, ointments of admonitions, medicaments of the Holy Scriptures, and if, as a last resource, he hath employed the caustic of excommunication and the blows of the lash, and seeth that even then his pains are of no avail, let him apply for that brother also what is more potent than all these measures: his own prayer and that of the brethren, that the Lord who is all-powerful may work a cure in that brother.

But if he is not healed even in this way, then finally let the Abbot dismiss him from the community, as the Apostle saith: "Put away the evil one from among you" (1 Cor 5:13); and again: "If the faithless depart, let him depart (1 Cor 7:15);" lest one diseased sheep infect the whole flock.

"Know you not that a little leaven

the whole lump?"
I Corinthians 5:6b

Surrender your father into your **Heavenly Father’s **hands . . . God is abundantly capable re handling the difficult situation . . . share with your father that you do not accept his bad choices . . . and share with him that you are going to just gently remove yourself and your children out of the middle of the unhealthy situation . . . until he comes to his senses . . . and continue praying for your father in love . . . and let God work **. . . sin . . . like fire . . . **is incredibly dangerous . . . and nothing to . . . “accept” . . . and . . . “play around about with” . . . particularly when children are nearby . . .

*God bless . . . *
[RIGHT]. . . all for Jesus+
. . . Lord guide and direct+[/RIGHT]


I know how you feel and it is a hard choice to make. My mother divorced my dad and lives with another man. I have not spoken to this man since i found out what was going on. My mum and i fell out also but after some time we started talking again, i feel sorry for my mum as i dont think she realises that it was wrong, you see my mum is not a religious person although she beleives in god. I have a son and have never ever kept him away from her as he loves his nana and she loves him so how could i deny my son his nana. However there is a catch!! He is not allowed near the other man or to talk to him. I know that mum was as much to blame as the man but he is nothing to me or my son and that is how i keep it. He was a family friend and my dads best friend but not anymore. I love my mum and need her in my life although i am very angry at her for what happened with my dad as with illness he went down hill after she left then he died. So you see it wasent an easy decision to keep her around but if it doesnt work out at least i can say i have tried. Dont deny your kids their grandfather. But it is your choice and i hope you make the correct one for their sakes but just bear in mind we all try hard to sheild our children from things but in the end they see it anyway. Goodluck and god bless.


I don’t think you are morally obligated to let him see his grandchildren after he has left their grandmother for another woman. (Stating the obvious, without your mother, he wouldn’t be their grandfather.) You are morally obligated to protect your children, but that doesn’t neccesarily mean you must bann him either.

I suggest you consult a priest in the Confessional for guidance to help assure that whatever you choose to do that it’s done for the right motives (rather than either anger or guilt.)

This thought hit me as I read your post about a man who starts behaving completely contrary to his known character. Is it possible that he had some type of brain injury? Just a thought…


Shortly after my wife and I got married her parents split after over 30 years because he was having an affair. That one eventually didn’t work out and he ended up meeting someone else who went to the same Presbyterian Church that we did.

They got married and eventually have 2 children. The oldest being about a year older than our oldest so they are the same age as our children.

While I didn’t agree with divorce as a Presbyterian I did not hold the same views as the Church does in regards to relations being a mortal sin etc… w/o an annulment.

It was difficult for both of us as we were trying to get pregnant and couldn’t then her dad and step-mom, who is actually the same age I am (my wife is 2 years younger than we are) were having kids. Not to mention the fact that now he was a basically a new dad and didn’t have the same time for what was his only child for about 30 years.

That being said we never pushed him away (and we had ample other reasons as well), especially when we had kids and we will not now either. They are not Catholic, they are still Presbyterian and do not believe the way we do and I’m not going to hold them to the teachings of the Church. He made a big mistake, and we have talked about it to our oldest (who is 6) when he asked why they aren’t together as seen in pictures when my wife was young. We also though point out that blessings can sometimes come from mistakes as well (his aunt and uncle who are his age).

More importantly, I put this on a post in another area, I believe children need their extended family and Grandparents, they have a lot to teach them. They are still only human. I read Michelle’s answer to this and I disagree with her. I would not punish my father by keeping his grandkids from him nor would I punish my kids and deprive them of a grandfather who loves. My children don’t have that option as my father passed away before they were born very suddenly… I know your are mad now but consider if you didn’t have the options you have today because he wasn’t there at all.

Being young they won’t really understand and you will have time to tell them that Grandpa made a big mistake as they get older. I would also allow my kids to play with her children. I believe kids need all the people they can around them who love them.

Adults make choices, sometimes bad one, sometimes really bad ones but it dosen’t sound like your father has done anything that would hurt the children (like pedo, alcoholism etc…) so Michelle’s answer about supervised visits and phone calls is ridiculous IMHO (this comes from someone who use to work with abused children as well). He isn’t a pedophile, he is a man who made a very bad choice which has nothing to do with the grand children. There are so many children out there who would love to have someone to care about them, even if it was only a few times a year, yet you are considering denying your children of that extra love and attention… why again?

Oh yes, immoral behavor… I don’t know about you but I’ve done a lot of immoral things and while I consistantly try to do better I still fail quite a lot. I pray that I never do anything stupid like your father has done but if I do ever completely fail like that, I pray that my children will be able to fogive me… I think I may go read them the story about “casting the first stone…” at bedtime tonight.

What I WOULD do though is tell him that you expect him, as a Catholic, to seek an annulment. He may not get it but as a Baptized Catholic he should try.

Finally I agree with you… I think it’s your anger talking. But don’t listen to just me or anyone else on this board. Take what each of us has said and take it to Him.

I would encourage you to spend some time in front of the Blessed Sacrament… alone with Christ. My wife’s father was recently diagnosed with cancer and it’s inoperable… imagine if she had pushed him out about a decade ago or so… I told her the same thing. Go to the Chapel and pray, cry and whatever you need to do… then listen.

We all make mistakes… some a lot worse than others. I believe if you pray about it and listen to your heat, He will guild you in what you need to do. Maybe that is my suggestions, maybe it’s not I don’t know… but He does.

You are in my prayers!




Just one more little suggestion, to piggy-back on the previous poster’s excellent suggestion of time before the Blessed Sacrament: Consider saying a Divine Mercy chaplet for your dad. You’re not going to feel like it. Say it through gritted teeth if you have to, as an act of will. Repeat as needed. I found it did help me come to some peace, helped my wounded-animal rage subside and make room for forgiveness. Eventually.


Thank you to everyone for your insightful responses. From the varied views expressed, there is no one easy answer. I try to keep praying and visiting the Blessed Sacrament, but sometimes it is hard. I have to remind myself that the Devil wants my anger to keep me from praying, so I need to continue praying and not let Evil win completley. I’ve prayed many rosaries, and will try the Divine Mercy Chaplet. I haven’t talked to my priest/confessor yet but I will do that very soon. Thanks again.

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