DEAR AMY: My 26-year-old son has just been told that his girlfriend of 10 years is pregnant. The last five years have been rocky for them, to say the least. They had agreed to split up for good just before this happened. Now, we are all in a very awkward situation — especially my son. Above all, he needs to have a paternity test. He is ready and willing to support the child but not the child’s mother. Their relationship is so toxic that no good could come from them being together. The mother has told her doctors that the father of her baby is dead. I have always considered her to be unique and quirky, but now I’m thinking she is unstable. I am more concerned for my son. I’m worried about how he will navigate this serious fact of his life.
Probably Overly Protective Mom
DEAR OVERLY PROTECTIVE: Based on your account, it seems that all of the information you have about this pregnancy is hearsay. For instance, how do you know what this woman has told her doctor about the parentage of her unborn child?
Your son should see a lawyer (quickly) in order to determine his responsibilities and rights concerning this child. You all seem very skeptical, and so, yes, he should demand a paternity test. If he is the biological father — but she is denying his paternity and he does not want to assume paternity, he could explore the possibility and the process of permanently terminating his parental rights.
However, because you seem to be trying to mentor your adult son through this, you should emphasize his rights and responsibilities versus how he can dodge his parenthood.
If your son is the father of this baby, and if the mother is as unstable as you portray her, then you should seek to be much more — not less — involved in the child’s life. Parents with challenging and/or “toxic” relationships have to find ways to come together and communicate on a basic level in order to co-parent children. As the grandparent, you can play a very important role in conveying the stability that this child (or any child) needs.
DEAR AMY: My daughter recently became engaged. Her father and I divorced more than 10 years ago and presently only speak to each other if there is an issue at hand. My ex-husband has done very well financially and has always bragged about all of his “stuff.” I, on the other hand, work three jobs to pay my bills. I don’t hold any grudge toward my ex for being financially successful. He hasn’t offered to pay for his daughter’s wedding or even make a contribution toward it. My question is — should my daughter ask for his financial help?
Mother of the Bride
DEAR MOB: My question for you is why you are asking this, instead of your daughter. It is her wedding. If she wants to try to raise funds to finance her wedding and she believes her father has the money, then she and her fiance could try to hit him up for it.
I assume that there is some distance or estrangement between father and daughter. If that is the case, then both parties will feel the impact of the health of their relationship on this wedding day. Fathers of brides do not automatically pony up to pay for weddings, especially if their relationship is rocky.
DEAR AMY: I appreciated the question in your column from “Deluged Donor,” who was overwhelmed by contact with several people who were offspring created by his long-ago donation. There is another reason for encouraging children of “sperm donors” (or women who have had a child with donated sperm), to communicate at a very basic level. The mother and child need to know the donor’s lifelong health history. I speak from personal experience. Although I was not conceived via donated sperm, I was adopted as a baby with no information about the health history of my biological parents. I was unable to get it (as the laws would not permit this in the state where I was born). Now, at 72, I’ve been through several life-threatening illnesses; leaky heart valves that were probably congenital, an autoimmune disorder, total hearing loss at 41 years old and a variety of other health problems. It would have been so helpful to have had some clues!
DEAR FACTS: Absolutely. I urged “Deluged Donor” to provide thorough health information to his many offspring, regardless of whether he chose to have a deeper relationship with them.