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I’ve been with my husband for over 17 years but just found out he had a daughter with another woman. I have six children, and the youngest are 15 and 13. His secret daughter is 15, the same age as my daughter. My husband has become really interested in seeing her, but the girl knows he went years without contacting her and never wants to meet him. What can we do? My youngest daughters are telling us to just forget about her, but he can’t.
As a practical matter, there is little that you, personally, can do. Only your husband has the moral or legal standing to contact this girl. You can try to steer him toward a certain decision, but I wouldn’t advise it, for reasons I’ll discuss in a little while.
For now, I’ll set aside the problem of unfaithfulness and the fact that your husband kept this girl’s existence a secret from you. These marital issues, serious though they are, have little bearing on the parenting problem you present.
I understand your daughters’ viewpoint. In fact, neither you nor any of your children has much to gain if your husband makes contact with this long-neglected daughter. She doesn’t want anything to do with him, which probably translates into a complete lack of interest in contact with you or your daughters. So you don’t really have skin in this game.
But at the same time, your husband’s growing desire to meet his daughter probably won’t subside on its own. Many young men often look at children as inconveniences, and many find it easy to reject their children. However, as some men mature, they may become more accepting of children, particularly after they marry. In some cases, the guilt builds up over time until a man feels a strong need to establish contact with his child, hoping to make up for lost opportunities. Some men simply feel their own mortality as they age and don’t want to miss out on a potential relationship with a child they never knew.
If you want to help your husband, talk to him about this issue. Don’t avoid it. Explore why he wants to contact his daughter. If he isn’t sure why, work with him until he understands. Then let him make his own decision. Given the girl’s attitude about her father, there is a good chance that any contact will end in disappointment for him. But if he decides not to contact this girl, he may regret it for the rest of his life.
You may very well have a strong opinion on whether or not your husband should get in touch with this girl. But for the sake of both his mental health and the stability of your marriage, I recommend that you not try to convert him to your way of thinking. There is a good chance that regardless of the man’s decision, the result will not be satisfactory. And in a situation with such an emotional undergirding, the road not taken will probably end up looking like the best path. You do not want to be on record as pushing him toward one decision or another, or you risk taking the blame for a situation you did not cause and could not fix.
Are a pastor’s daughters allowed to have sleepovers with other girls their age, or maybe with a three- to four-year age gap?
That depends entirely on the pastor and his wife. There are no established rules, biblical or societal, on whether a pastor’s children can have friends sleep over at their house, or on whom they can invite.
Basically, if the pastoral parents allow sleepovers, then sleepovers are OK. If they don’t, then sleepovers are not OK. And once the parents make their decision, the children, neighbors, and congregation don’t have much authority to second-guess that decision.
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