When is it doing the right thing...or butting in?


#1

Hello - This is my first time on here so I hope I am in the right forum? And I am a very private person so this is a huge outreach for me for some guidance....

Short story: I was raised Catholic. Fell away from my faith for many many years. Felt lost and never completely whole but in Oct of 2010 I became back in full communion with the Church - which has been the most amazing blessing as well as some of the most trying times of my life.

I have recently been faced with a question that I have no idea the path to take.

My question: When do you know if you are doing the right thing, or to just mind your own business?

Situation: Been Legally (civil) divorced for nine years. This past Christmas, my two teenage children "accidentally" let the "cat out of the bag" that there dad was in a relationship with a married ex-highschool girlfriend. Besides the fact that it is adultery and their dad didn't want me to know about it, I had gone through confirmation with this womans husband (and later kind of dated). So they all knew I knew him, and were afraid I would tell him. I haven't spoken to him since I was 17 (27 years ago).

Although I realize personally it's none of my business what they are doing, I'm having trouble knowing something about someone I used to care about, as well as the fact that my children are okay with the situation. They have also been told that he is abusive and a terrible controlling person. Yet she is still with him? Not exactly the example I want my 18 daughter seeing as okay?

I know if I say anything to him, I will have my children so mad at me, that they may never speak to me again - as they have established a relationship with this woman - and have already been instructed to 1)keep it a secret from me and 2)have told me I better not tell him. But I also know that if the tables were turned and he and his wife had been divorced for 9 years and he found out that his ex-wife as well as his children were in in a relationship with my husband, I would hope and pray that he or someone would let me know.

I'm just really torn between- When is staying out of it the right thing. When is saying something the right thing. And how to "try" to and explain to your children "why?" I am not happy happy joyful, when they mention that they spent a weekend with their dad and his married girlfriend, without making them feel uncomfortable. I must add. I was not able to raise my children in my faith as to the fact that my ex-husband is very very much against anything that has to do with the Catholic Faith. And he has expressed to our children his dislike in Catholicism. Luckily my daughter will periodically attend Mass with me, but my son (16) has no problem expressing his dislike for it like his dad. That's a whole other post for a question. Why do people who don't even attend any church - bash another faith?? Just Foolish I guess....anyway

Any advice would be appreciated....


#2

My feeling about this is that the best thing you can do is to stay out of it. Mostly. I’d keep talking to your kids about what is happening, because if you don’t they could get the idea that it’s all fine. It sounds like the whole situation is precarious, and that your kids are trying to have a relationship with their father, so I wouldn’t do anything to jeopardise their chances of doing that, but you must never let them think that you approve of what he is doing.

I think it is entirely inappropriate for your ex-husband (still husband, if an annullment has not been given) to have this woman staying the weekend with your children there. That is totally scandalous and the worst example he could give. Depending on how much influence you have over them, you really need to let them know why it is wrong, if not from a religious point of view, then from the point of view that it can’t be good to break up someone else’s marriage. The argument that the other husband is bad is not a good reason to go sneaking around behind his back.

I think you’re probably at a disadvantage because you have rejoined the faith after your kids are mostly grown, but hang in there, pray every day for them and for your husband, and miracles can happen.

And by the way, I think people attack other faiths when they feel threatened. My brother is extremely angry at the Catholic Church, and will spare no opportunity to spit venom at it. Usually his ‘arguments’ are unfounded and he will yell to make his points more effective. I feel really sorry for him.


#3

A most difficult situation, and I will pray for your guidance.

Please talk to your Pastor and explain what you have heard. I think....do not do this on my recommendation....that he will advise you to discuss the matter privately with your former husband, and express your concern over the example he is giving to the children. I do not think he will advise telling your former boyfriend of this.

Please proceed very cautiously and only with good sound advice from your Pastor.

Mother Mary, pray for us all!


#4

I would be shocked too if I were in this situation. However, unfortunately, your kids are old enough (16 and 18) that I think there opinions are pretty well formed and this won't affect them as much as if they were 6 and 8.

So what can you do

1-) Be honest with your kids. I have not seen the man in 17 years so the chances of bumping into him are slim. And if I did bump into him, it is obviously not the first thing I blurt out. However, if ever I am between a rock and a hard spot and someone blatanly asks about it, I can not lie

2-) Tell you kids, I understand you want to spend time with your father and want that is what I want for you as well. However, it saddens me that your father would actually let a married woman sleep in his house. It her husband is as bad as she says he is, then if she had any brains at all, she would leave him. There are tones of resources to help women in those situations. Your dad obvioulsy can not see the forest through the trees but dating a married person not only hurts her spouse but will hurt your dad in the end as well.

Apart from that, there really is nothing more you can do since your kids will soon be adults

CM


#5

Thank you all so much for your input…

I may need to explain a little further (I think I gave you a condensed version as to not drag it out) but the truth of the matter is…my ex-husband and I have always tried to continue to raise our children - some would say as if we were still married…(as a matter of fact, at the kids school functions or sporting events, some didn’t even know we were divorced).

The difference in parenting styles began when this new relationship began. Luckily our daughter was almost out of high school at the time. She did have a bumpy Senior Year and even lashed out at her dad with his behavior of never being “there” - always texting or on the internet or out with his “high-school” friends - (which is how it all began). We have had 50/50 joint custody from the beginning.

But since all this began I have lost having my son living with me at all. I was not going to tolerate or be okay with failing grades, drinking, smoking, getting high, dipping, and had restrictions and ground rules at my home. So of course he chose to go to the house where those same rules were not enforced - nor was anyone there to see what was going on. He is actually just finishing up his Junior year with at least three F’s. It took a lot to let him go, breaks my heart daily, but I couldn’t continue to try and give him a home and guidance, if he had the choice of no parental guidance and complete freedom with no restrictions or expectations and I had to come to the realization that he was old enough to choose, so it wasn’t like I could fight in court for full custody. I realize it’s not a game or anything, but in this situation I was “bad cop” and that just doesn’t fly with a 15year old. Just recently I found out that a 16 yr old run-a-way (or kicked out) teenage girl is living there as well. All I could say was…what is going on???

I have spoken to my daughter numerous times about this (after she has brought up an encounter and I didn’t jump for joy) and when she senses my tension of the situation she then proceeds to tell me it’s none of my business and that she hopes she never has to meet this man (the husband). I have tried to have calm conversations with her and explain my concerns or how sorry I am that she is having to go through this, but you are right, they are almost adults and there is nothing really I can do at this point…But the whole situation still sickens me everyday. Especially when my daughter says, “he knows they are getting divorced…he just doesn’t know she is with dad or that she knows us…she is waiting for the youngest to graduate (next year).” I can’t help but wonder…would HE be willing to wait another year and possibly lose half of everything he has worked for, if he knew his wife had established a relationship with another man and his children for the past two years…or could he be holding onto hope that maybe in this next year…they can mend their marriage???

I have also spoken with my ex-husband, 1) because I was very upset that my children were asked to hide a relationship in their lives from me and 2) because I was concerned for all’s safety if he had actually become abusive. My ex-husband expressed how he knew it was wrong, but there actually was no need to worry about our children being in danger. I still don’t understand one thing…why is it okay to expose my children, yet her’s have not been told (exact same ages). He said it is because he wanted to start off on the right foot with them. Which makes me think whatever they are telling my kids about how abusive he is isn’t maybe true.

I don’t know…just feels like a mess…and it has definitely messed up my children as well as my relationship with them. I will just continue to pray that someday my son realizes I never gave up on him, just on trying to co-parent with his dad. And I can only pray that my daughter respects herself enough to never settle for less then what God has in store for her.

Thank you again for taking the time out of your day to give me some food for thought…I still just have the convicting thought…would I want someone to let me know…


#6

[quote="BackOnTrack, post:1, topic:241907"]
I must add. I was not able to raise my children in my faith as to the fact that my ex-husband is very very much against anything that has to do with the Catholic Faith. And he has expressed to our children his dislike in Catholicism. Luckily my daughter will periodically attend Mass with me, but my son (16) has no problem expressing his dislike for it like his dad. That's a whole other post for a question. Why do people who don't even attend any church - bash another faith?? Just Foolish I guess....anyway

Any advice would be appreciated....

[/quote]

the heck with those two other people they are not your problem. Stay out of that and have no contact with either one.

Your children are your immediate problem. They let the cat out of the bag because they want you to know about this horrible situation and they want your guidance as a parent on how they can reconcile their love for their father with what he is doing, and how they should behave toward this woman. Give them that guidance. This is a teaching moment, an emergency actually. they especially your son are also calling out loud and clear for guidance on why they should remain Catholic if their parents did not live out the faith while they were being raised. A boy who is trying to remain loyal to his father against the odds almost always takes his position on religion. You have to show them what being Christian means in the hard times. Engage them in conversation that begins with asking them how they feel about the situation. They have to have one balanced, grounded parent they can talk to. Obviously you are not going to downgrade your ex, but let them talk out and arrive at their own conclusion.


#7

Dear BackOnTrack,

first of all, welcome home to the church. It is wonderful to hear of people who have taken that step and want to grow closer to God. Congrats!

This is a messy situation indeed and I don’t think there is a solution to it all at the moment. Your kids are almost grown up and they are already making choices on how they want to live. You can pray for them and be a good example, as well as a person they can come to when things get tough. I think it is really important for your son to know this because things will get tough if he carries on like this. But good news is that many young people come back to their senses after a period of stupid behaviour. I would definitely tell them you are not happy with the dad - girlfriend situation and explain why. It is still not too late to teach them about right and wrong in these matters.

I will keep you in my prayers.
God bless.


#8

Tell the husband. Plain and simple. Send him a note. Your exhusband and your children, and now you, are all accomplices in the betrayal of this man.
I once saw a documentary on a private detective, a middle aged woman, who was mostly hired because someone suspected their spouse was having an affair. So the detective went into cafes, restaurants, etc, that kind of thing, followed people a bit around, and let the wronged spouse know that the other was indeed cheating (which was mostly the case).

In the end of the documentary the interviewer asked the detective… "Are you sure its okay what you are doing."
She answered: “If it were you, wouldn’t you wanna know?”

Bluntly spoken: Your ex and this woman are living in adultery infront of your kids (hello?) Someone’s wife is screwing around and the whole world knows it except for the husand who - for all you know - might be a nice guy who would like to work on his marriage… and you wanna stay silent?
Seems like you have been silent far too long and with too many things already… Time to change that and do whats right.


#9

[quote="BackOnTrack, post:5, topic:241907"]
But since all this began I have lost having my son living with me at all. I was not going to tolerate or be okay with failing grades, drinking, smoking, getting high, dipping, and had restrictions and ground rules at my home. So of course he chose to go to the house where those same rules were not enforced - nor was anyone there to see what was going on. He is actually just finishing up his Junior year with at least three F's. It took a lot to let him go, breaks my heart daily, but I couldn't continue to try and give him a home and guidance, if he had the choice of no parental guidance and complete freedom with no restrictions or expectations and I had to come to the realization that he was old enough to choose, so it wasn't like I could fight in court for full custody. I realize it's not a game or anything, but in this situation I was "bad cop" and that just doesn't fly with a 15year old. Just recently I found out that a 16 yr old run-a-way (or kicked out) teenage girl is living there as well. All I could say was...what is going on????
...

[/quote]

My heart bleeds for you because this is definetly a big cross to bear. May God give you the strengh to bear this trial. I know as a mom this is the last thing you want for your son.

However, I beg you to remain strong. The bible says 'Teach your children the way they should go'. The bible NEVER said 'Make sure your children go the right way'

Of course all teenage boys will choose the path of freedom. And this is of little consolation now but if you stay strong, you will have taught your son there is a different way. You can face God and be proud you set the good example instead of caving to the sins of the world.

CM


#10

Thanks again for your input.. Even though I have not always shown my children the life path to strong Christian living, and I have made many many mistakes, renewing my faith and coming back to the Church has been my only peace. I guess all I can do is to continue my faith journey and pray A LOT. I'm really not trying to judge anyone. Like I said I have made my own mistakes. But am now trying to be a better person and make sure I do everything I can to "do the right thing" It just seems that this "doing the right thing" is causing me to lose my children...and the path they are on is potentially both dangerous and destructive. Not to mention the relationship that they are watching progress and have become a part of could potentially be dangerous and IS destructive.

But I realized something through reading all the posts. I can’t do anything to make this situation better. I can only be better myself. I can only be here for my kids and hope that my examples of “doing the right thing” helps them to realize that is the only way to live a happy and peaceful life. Whether it is my place or not to tell the husband will probably continue to weigh on my heart.

Bottom line question: Take all children and past relationships out of the equation:

If you know someone is being cheated on do you tell them? Is it the “right thing to do”? If you don’t are you doing the “wrong thing”?

I realize it’s not just as black and white as that, but just curious. When do you say something like that to someone? Or do you?


#11

Generally speaking, the rule of thumb is that you tell the parties what you have learned (that is, that their children are spreading rumors about them, because that is all you know, isn't it?) when you cross paths with them...that is, if you think the rumors are worth bringing up at all. You might let your ex know that you may not the only one told these things, even though the matter slipped out by accident, since you are hardly the only people your children confide in or speak openly with. Tell them that you do not need to be given a defense concerning the details of their lives, because you yourself have seen nothing to give you scandal, but encourage them to speak to the children if the stories are not true and to live a life that can be lived in broad daylight before all, if the stories are true.

If your ex-husband defends living in scandal with your children in the same house, that becomes an issue between the two of you.

You do not call someone up to repeat rumors you have heard. If you have no direct knowledge of an improper relationship or even of scandalous behavior, do not be a conduit for gossip. Until you have first-hand knowledge, you certainly wouldn't contact this man. If you get first-hand knowledge, you would approach the "sinner", not the "victim", at least that would be the first thing you would do. Always give room for repenantance, always give room for the possibility that your "facts" are in error. You cannot undo a false report.

From the catechism:

2477 Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty:
- of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor;
- of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another's faults and failings to persons who did not know them;
- of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.

**2478 **To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor's thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way:

Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another's statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. and if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.

2479 Detraction and calumny destroy the reputation and honor of one's neighbor. Honor is the social witness given to human dignity, and everyone enjoys a natural right to the honor of his name and reputation and to respect. Thus, detraction and calumny offend against the virtues of justice and charity.


#12

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