Q: How do I accept a child my husband had with another woman while we were separated?
I love kids and I feel bad for the feelings I have toward this child, but there’s been so much drama and pain caused because of this child (rather than the actions of the parents).
How can I not feel resentment toward her? And just looking at the baby reminds me of the time we separated.
Can you shed some light on this dark situation?
A: I get hundreds of questions each week – and the subjects often come in waves. For the last month or two I have received countless emails like yours from people who were together, broke up, someone either got pregnant or got someone pregnant, they reconciled, and now there’s a baby that neither expected.
Understanding this is a gut-wrenching situation to face, I first have to say this: Condoms, people! Morals aside, everyone has an opinion about when it is appropriate to have sex, but most agree in this day and age, safe sex is the way to go. The most unpredictable time in one’s life is right after you break up with someone. Rarely do people make a clean break of it.
There are lots of reconsiderations before the final decision is made, and in that time, if you’re sleeping with other people, be responsible! Babies are forever. So are some STDs. Both can be avoided by using condoms.
Now to address the issue: How do you accept this child? I can’t tell you how to accept her, but I can tell you why you should.
In your initial communication you said, “There is a lot of drama as a result of the child, not the actions of the parents.” On the contrary, it IS the action of the parents who have caused this, not the child.
You love the guy so you are attaching blame to the child. Doesn’t make it true. If you have decided to stay with this man, then you accept everything about him. This is his child. How she got here is irrelevant – if you have decided to stay with him. And, simply because she is here, she deserves the same amount of love and acceptance in your home as any child either of you have brought into the world.
Finally, to help you deal, remember, looking at something a little differently often helps us cope. Breaking up and starting over is messy business. Rather than look at the baby and let it remind you that you once separated, why not look at her and realize that you are together against all odds? You always have the option to walk away.
Dr. Jann Blackstone is the author of “Ex-etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After Divorce or Separation,” and the founder of Bonus Families, www.bonusfamilies.com. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.