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Virginia Ironside᾿s Dilemmas

Dear Virginia, My son and daughter-in-law have been together for 10 years. They have a two-year-old child whom they adore. My son was adamant he didn't want any more children — but his partner secretly had her coil removed and got pregnant. When she confessed, my son got furious and came home to me. They're not speaking, and their house is for sale. My son has lost his child, his home, and a loving partner. How can I advise him? Yours sincerely, Francesca

While obviously I sympathise with your son feeling betrayed and angry about his girlfriend's feckless behaviour, I'm surprised his reaction has been quite as strong as it is. I'm wondering whether he hasn't been looking for an 'out' to his marriage for a long time, and at last he's got an excuse to lay the blame at his wife's door, without sharing any responsibility. And responsibility is something your son seems hell-bent on avoiding.

How does he think his poor two-year-old is feeling back home? The child is an innocent party in this.

Does your son not realise that he shares responsibility for this event? Would he have reacted this badly had it been a genuine mistake — no contraception is totally reliable. And now the mistake's been made — his partner almost certainly thought things would settle down after a bit of an upset — can't he realise that this new baby is still his, that he owes it something?

I'm almost starting to wonder whether your son isn't, actually, on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Perhaps he has already been working all God's hours and wondering how he could even manage to bring up a family of one, and the idea of another mouth to feed has toppled him into near-insanity.

Your role, Francesca, is extremely important here. There is nothing more healing than a sympathetic third party to ease the way between warring factions. Why don't you talk to your son's partner to find out what her side of the story is? Hint to your son that he can't stay with you forever, and emphasise how much his family is missing him.

Tell him, firmly but kindly, that he must go back. On him depends the happiness of four people: his two children, his wife — and himself.

Readers say:


Francesca's daughter-in-law did the wrong thing. But it seems she was responding to an urge so great, she had no choice. And what was that urge for? Not money, or passion, attention, or anything selfish. She wanted to create a life, her husband's child. I understand how furious Francesca's son is, but his wife was following the basic instinct on which the human race depends. I think he'll gain so much more from supporting her than by punishing her, his children and himself by leaving his family.

Name and address supplied


Your son has behaved very badly. So what that his partner is pregnant? It could have happened by accident anyway. If the partnership was solid it would have withstood this. Tell him to go back to his partner and get on with it.

Name and address supplied


Francesca's son is not the first person to be deceived in this way. Isn't he being a bit self-indulgent? His responsibility is to care for his partner and children for as long as they need him. He must swallow his pride, go back to them and welcome the baby. He will soon love him or her to bits.

What he must not do is cause suffering to his partner or deprive his children of their father just because he is 'furious'.

Name and address supplied


Francesca's son sounds like a spoilt brat. He left a little boy he claims he loves just to punish his wife who dared to get pregnant against his wishes. What a selfish man. He should go back to his family. Time to grow up and be a responsible parent.

Name and address supplied

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