DEAR CAROLYN: Our problem has many layers. Our 16-year-old son fathered a child. He does not have a relationship with the mother, also 16. We asked her to give the baby up for adoption. We were unsuccessful. The baby is 3 months old and we’ve seen him a few Saturdays in a row. He has been no problem.
Here are our dilemmas: Our son has no interest in parenting; we are in our late 40s and not interested in being new parents again; the mother wants us to have the baby 1 to 8 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday.
I already feel resentment. My husband and I don’t want to spend weekends caring for a child. I need to unwind and get things done, and we are enjoying some freedom with a son who is almost an adult.
I know it is not the baby’s fault. My son made an error in judgment and we are all paying. I probably can handle one day a week and we are trying to set an example for our son. We feel he eventually needs to step up and be a father, but I am concerned that if we force him, he will resent his child.
What do you think?
– Grandma too early
DEAR GRANDMA: This is a one-layer problem: Your son needs to take responsibility.
The rest are qualifiers, subplots and distractions.
One subplot is the mother. She overruled the father and his camp; she can’t expect to have weekend afternoons off. Just because the father should care for his child and presumably is legally obligated to pay support, doesn’t mean the mother can expect him to care for his child, not after she decided to raise it.
That needed to be said, but it’s ultimately irrelevant. Because: Another subplot is your and your son’s stages of life. You’re at midlife and grateful for some freedom, and he’s in his midteens, over-enjoying his freedom.
Again, irrelevant, as you seem to grasp. There’s an baby three months into many years of dependency on adults, which means those adults must act like adults. Technically you can decline to take the child on weekends because you need time to pick up your dry cleaning and weed the petunia bed, but morally you need to buy car seat and bring Junior along for the ride.
Sometimes. Your other moral obligation — the one you assumed when you had your son — is to raise a contributing member of society, which means you can’t stand by, coflicted, as your boy chooses to contribute sperm and nothing else. Baby Boot Camp is in session.
This training course will involve two grandparents fully and unequivocally accepting their grandchild into their home, hearts and lives, but not letting their randy son off the hook.
He refuses? His freedoms reflect his maturity.
Rearrange your landscape to include your new family configuration, then call your son over to take in the view. Someday, son, this will all be yours. I’m thinking in a month.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.