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your husband's father

You should learn to forgive. I am a feminist, who chose to raise my daughter on my own when her father cheated on me. You won't find anyone angrier than me about this culture in parts of the world, including among some in the U.S., that says men are macho if they father as many children as they can and just leave them, progressively impregnating younger and younger women. It's common all over the world.

I just returned from El Salvadro (mostly La Libertad and El Tunco) and met many children selling jewelery on the beach to tourists. Most of them are from poor nearby villages and have no fathers in the picture. It's so sad. They range in age from 5 to 20 and ply the beach all day in the hot sun. People warned me about them, saying they lie, are lazy and just want money. Most tourists treat them like unwelcome flies.

But I became friendly with them and found most of what they wanted was a bit of time and attention. The kids I met were wonderful and were so thankful if someone bought them a coke, some water or pizza, as I did. Many days, we just frolicked in the surf and they were so happy with that. I saw the waiters in the outdoor restaurants giving these children the plates after more wealthy local or foreign customers had eaten. One day, I saw two of the sweet children I had come to know -- 11 and 12 -- in a restaurant picking over a leftover chicken bone and a few french fries left from some customer. It broke my heart.

Yet my tour guide -- a Salvadoran who has a wife and 4 children -- told me had lived in the U.S. for three years and left because he couldn't find an American woman to have sex with. He said he'd leave again if he could find one, and spent most of the day hitting on me. The guy who ran the hotel I stayed at told me he has 7 children from three different women, the latest wife very young. "I guess I've become a typical Salvadoran," he said. It's so sad.

This is all just my way of telling you that I can't be angrier about this culture and these types of men and the people who accept what they do. Still, I think hate will just eat your husband alive. Like these children, he needs his father. Not for money or material things or not even, perhaps, for guidance at this late date, but because he has only one father. Forgiving him and forging a bond needn't imply that you or your husband accept or approve of what his father did. It simply says I know you are my father and you are important in my life. It says more about the two of you than it does about him. My mother disowned me when I was young because I had a daughter with a black man. Still, I cared for my mother in her old age when my 4 sisters wouldn't. Why? Because I wouldn't want to see any poor, fragile, helpless old woman stuck in a nursing home with no one to visit or protect her. That is the person I choose to be. Now that my mother is gone, I'm glad that I have the memory of sitting at her bedside reading to her from the bible rather than memories or hate and distance. I know who she was and learned a lot about my family and history by spending time with her. I also came to understand why she was ignorant enough to be a racist. I couldn't control the choices she made and she had to live with her choices and must answer for them. But I wouldn't let her control who I am and how I live my life -- as a loving and forgiving person. Your husband's father is who he is and neither of you have control over that, but you can choose to be loving and forgiving people. I don't think people should be suckers and let others take advantage of them again and again, but talking with his father won't mean he needs to be taken advantage of. Just forge the bond. It will be healing. Also, I think you likely don't know everything this father went through either. Sometimes, people do terrible things because the are desperate or because no one really gave them any values.



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