Who’s your daddy?

I am pregnant and stuck between two possible fathers. I foolishly told both men that I am pregnant. They both want to be there for me and the baby. The thing is, they don’t know about each other. So, when the time comes, I need to tell one of them that the child is not his. I am almost positive that the child is Daddy No. 1’s, but I want to be with Daddy No. 2. What do I do?

Stop thinking about yourself. Although your dilemma could be a 21st-century twist on the beloved King Solomon story, your problem is not of biblical proportions. However, it’s vital now to redirect your thoughts. Forget about what you want and focus on providing kindness and compassion to these two men, equally. You also must focus on the needs of the child in your womb. Your life is changing, and it is no longer about you or what you desire.

Life is inviting you to learn how to put the needs of others first. There are only three life experiences that can train us out of our habit of self-centeredness: devoted service to the poor, marriage and parenting. To be a genuine partner in a marriage (or a committed, long-term relationship) or to be a sane and healthy parent or to truly give to the less fortunate requires willingness, discipline, commitment and self-awareness. It also demands our openness to the ways that genuine love can radically transform us, developing wisdom that is a sign of increasing spiritual and emotional maturity.

Your first step toward selflessness is to inform both men about the other. Apologize briefly to each man for withholding information. Do this without excessive explanation or drama. If a man reacts negatively, try not to react in response. Give him the space he needs to sort through his feelings without any interference from you (no phone calls or e-mails telling him that you are sorry, that you miss him, etc.). As soon as possible, secure a DNA test to determine the biological father of your child. Then let both men know. Don’t cling to the man you think you want to be with. Let the situation unfold naturally. The right partner will become clear.

I have a friend who met a married woman on the Internet two years ago. He divorced his wife and moved in with this woman. She is still legally married, and my friend supports her financially. She is emotionally abusive to him. My friend has sacrificed his children, family, friends, business and, most disturbingly, his own identity. If his friends visit, she turns on him afterward in a tirade that drives him from his own home. The only time I hear from him is after a blowout, when he calls to say he is miserable. He won’t get counseling. Do I continue the emotional support? Or do I end the friendship?

Greet his continuing distress by listening to him. Then say, “I’ve heard this story for two years. I really care about you, and I’m worried. What is your plan for changing the circumstances that cause your unhappiness?” Do not suggest a plan. But gently, with great understanding of the tremendous fear one must face to leave even dire situations, ask your friend what he will do—and when—to address his difficulties. Remember that your friend may feel he must make this relationship work because his marriage ended. He may imagine that leaving would prove he is a failure at relationships. Or that leaving means he is wrong, and his family and friends are right. As his friend, remind him of his value (to you, others and society) and of the qualities that he has that can help him solve his problems.

Meditation of the Week

Capital Public Radio’s <i>Insight</i> devoted a recent show to the new book <i>Performance Addiction: The Dangerous New Syndrome and How to Stop It from Ruining Your Life</i>, about the compulsion to seek happiness through external means such as plastic surgery and career accomplishments. My thoughts: Happiness is transitory, so you must always press on to the next achievement to get the next fix. What is needed is a spiritual life, a relationship with something greater than oneself. That builds contentment, the antidote to addiction. Religious practices such as prayer, meditation and contemplation also nurture contentment. So, how is your prayer life?