My response to my daughter’s question was posted at Catholic Exchange today.
Have you ever felt the sting of a wounded heart years after love’s counterfeit has passed from your life? Most of us — unless we married our first love, and early in life, can relate to this.
In her book The Night’s Dark Shade, Elena Maria Vidal explores this subject through an unexpected perspective: the Cathars of 13th century France. Check out my review of the book posted today at Catholic Exchange. Vidal, whose novels Madame Royale and Trianon have already gained her a loyal following, especially among Catholic history lovers, will appreciate this glimpse into another era of Church history that bears uncanny similarities to our own.
If you’d like to order the book, you may do so through Amazon.com or autographed copies through the author’s website.
In an article posted today at CatholicExchange.com, How Co-habitation is a Sin Against Social Justice, Dr. Jennifer Robuck points to co-habitation as one of the greatest dangers to the physical and spiritual well-being of children, particularly when children unrelated to the partner are living under the same roof. Morse writes:
“…we know that a cohabiting boyfriend is the person most likely to abuse a child. From British child-abuse registries, we learn that a child living with his or her mother and a live-in boyfriend is 33 times more likely to be abused than a child living with his or her biological married parents. From a study of inflicted injury deaths in Missouri, we learn that children living in households with unrelated adults were 50 times more likely to die of inflicted injuries than households with both biological parents present. In 82% of the cases, the ‘unrelated adult’ was the mother’s cohabiting boyfriend.”
The issue is not primarily the fact that the man is biologically unrelated (as is clearly demonstrated by the fact that so many couples choose to expand their families through adoption). But when a couple lives together without the sacrament of marriage, the instability of the partnership has a profound affect of the children living within the home.
I would add a caveat to Dr. Morse’s observations, however. A single mother must consider carefully — and as objectively as possible — the type of man she is dating long before the question of marriage (or co-habitation) is raised. The sacrament of matrimony is not a magical panacea. An immature, selfish wolf won’t turn “sheepish” just because you put a wedding band on the fourth finger of his left hand.
In my article “Marriage and the Single Mom,” I address some of the red flags that can creep into a relationship, signaling that the man in question is not a suitable spouse.
I don’t need to look any farther than my own family circle to show what can happen to children when their mothers make an ill-advised match. (Thankfully, my sister and her daughter managed to escape her abuser, and she chose much more wisely the second time around.)
The mutual self-donation that is part-and-parcel of a sacramental union is made by the husband and wife for the benefit of their children — whether or not those children have a biological connection to their parents. If the woman’s future husband is willing to love her children without reservation, out of love for Christ, well and good.
If their mother has any doubts about this, however, she is wise not to risk the wellbeing of her children by tying her future to a man she cannot trust to love her children as his own. Her highest responsibility is her children, and her happiness is inextricably tied to theirs.
This doesn’t mean, of course, that you will be alone for the rest of your life. Every life has its chapters and seasons, and the time may come when God brings the man who is worthy of your family into your life. Or, if you ask Him, He may also bring other people into your life who can give you the kind of encouragement and support you need right now.
Have you asked Him? Today?
Today at CatholicExchange.com I came across this sad story, in which a woman who had left the lesbian lifestyle to marry and raise her children was forced to relinquish custody of her adopted children to her former lover.
At every level, this makes no sense — the woman who was granted sole custody was not the legal parent of the children. Nor was it in the children’s best interest, as they have now been denied not only their mother but their best chance to have a father as well.
Please pray for this family. These poor kids are going to need all the prayers they can get!
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Today at F&F I posted a short reflection about how to handle the pressure from friends and family to choose a particular educational model — public schooling, private schooling, or home schooling — for our kids. As I observe there, today we celebrate the feast of St. Monica, mother of St. Augustine (who was always at the top of his class!). She never forgot that a mother’s most important job is not in front of a chalkboard, but on her knees.
Today CatholicExchange ran my article on charter school education. This is a hot topic, especially among Catholic educators who regard these public “alternative schools” with suspicion and concern about what their increasing popularity means for the future of parochial education. However, as our children’s first and primary educators, we need to consider ALL our options, knowing that sometimes the unpopular choice is, indeed, the best one.
What do you think?
I know the timing on this is a bit strange — it being Mother’s Day weekend and all — but an article that appeared on Today’s Catholic Woman really caught my attention. “My Son the Matchmaker” is about a woman who got pregnant — then kept the baby’s father in the dark about his paternity.
The story has a happy ending — the couple winds up married and raising the child together. More often than not, such stories are not tied up so neatly. But it does raise an important issue: the right of a child to know both his mother and father.
Now, I understand why a woman in a crisis pregnancy might be tempted — after having sex with someone who seems to be an unsuitable father — to keep the truth from the man. However, this short-term decision can have lifelong consequences for the child, who needs a mother AND father to thrive.
NCFA recently published a notice about a piece of legislation that was recently introduced in the Senate: “Senator Landrieu (D, LA) Introduces Protecting Adoption and Promoting Responsible Fatherhood Act.” This involves S939, a national putative (potential birth) father registry, which would facilitate securing the consent of birth fathers before the finalization of an adoption plan — something that is in the best interest of the child (who needs a permanent, stable family as quickly as possible) as well as potential adoptive parents (who are vulnerable if the adoption process is not conducted thoroughly and systematically).
Thank you, Senator Landrieu!