‘Grandma too early’ picks up teen dad’s duties
Are there letter-writers you wonder about to this day? While I’m away, readers nominate some.
“Would love to know where this teen dad, grandparents and baby are today,” writes one reader, citing this 2011 column:
DEAR CAROLYN: Our 16-year-old son fathered a child. He does not have a relationship with the mother, also 16. We encouraged her to give the baby up for adoption, but we were unsuccessful. The baby is now 3 months old, and we have seen him a few Saturdays in a row for several hours.
Our son has no interest in parenting (he is not ready); we are in our late 40s and not interested in being new parents again either; the mother would like us to have the baby each weekend from 1-8 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.
My husband and I don’t want to spend our entire weekend caring for a child. I need to unwind and get things done around the house, and we are enjoying time with a son who is almost an adult.
My son obviously made an error in judgment, and we are all paying the price. I feel like I probably can handle one day a week, and we are trying to set a good example for our son. We feel he eventually needs to step up and be a father to this child, but I am concerned that if we force him to, then he will resent his child.
What do you think?
— Grandma too early
DEAR GRANDMA TOO EARLY: Your son needs to take responsibility for his child (DNA confirmed, yes?).
Call me cold, but just because the father should care for his child — and presumably is legally obligated to pay child support — doesn’t mean the mother can expect him to, after she decided unilaterally to raise the child. The moment she did, it was on her.
Another subplot is your and your son’s stages of life. You’re at midlife and grateful for some freedom, parentally speaking, and he’s in his midteens, over-enjoying his freedom. Swell.
There’s an innocent baby three months into many years of dependency on the adults in his life, who 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 a carrier and a car seat, and bring Junior along for the ride.
Sometimes. Your other moral obligation is to raise a contributing member of society, which means you can’t stand by while your boy chooses to contribute sperm and nothing else. Baby Boot Camp is officially in session, starting next Saturday at 1 p.m.
This training will involve two grandparents fully accepting their grandchild into their lives — but not letting their randy son off the hook. Instead, they will demonstrate proper child care, reminding him that you and his father did this for him and so he will do it for his child, if he wants to be a decent human being.
He refuses? OK. Then his freedoms reflect his maturity.
That you aren’t persuaded of your vital role in this child’s life virtually guarantees your son will feel entitled to do what high-school boys do while his parents baby-sit his mistake as infrequently as they can justify.