Don't punish baby for parents' failings

Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

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DEAR AMY: We are invited to a baby shower that we morally oppose. Not only has the mother (our niece), dropped out of college after one semester, but the father of the baby is jobless, married with young kids and has a shady past -- he is a "former" drug dealer. The father is at least 20 years older than our niece, and he has no plans to divorce his wife. Our niece will be a single young mother getting by with government support, just like the baby's father. Should we still go to the baby shower? And if we do, what present should we give, and what should we say?Confused

DEAR CONFUSED: You need to refine what you are morally opposed to -- and then confine your moral opposition to the adults in this scenario, while not judging or penalizing an unborn child.

Being born to a college dropout, single mother who has a shaky hold on adulthood will saddle this child with challenges at the very start of life.

Do you need to add to this by insisting that you are too morally opposed to your niece's behavior to contribute to the baby's well-being with some diapers or a bassinet? The way to keep this child out of poverty and off government assistance is for your family to pitch in where you can to help steer this young mom toward a more stable path. She will need to find work, child care and adult mentoring to be the best parent she can be.

And if the drug-dealing dad stays out of the picture -- all the better.

Only attend this shower if you can wrap your mind around the idea that you will have a new great-niece who, hopefully, will someday know you as a kind and thoughtful family member.

Your sibling (the grandparent of this baby) will have a lot to deal with. Surely you can think of ways to be supportive of your sibling without throwing the baby out with the proverbial bath water.