how far does forgiveness go?

I watch MTV’s 16 and Pregnant and its sequel, Teen Mom, and a common theme that emerges is bad fathers.

Not only are the majority of these fathers absent, apathetic, and selfish, some of them are just downright mean.

I know it’s asking a lot of a teenage boy to expect him to take care of his child, but somehow the mother manages to step up to the plate.  I don’t understand why the father can’t too.  Or how he doesn’t feel guilty and shameful for not doing so.

It’s as though he feels that the pregnancy was not his fault and therefore he doesn’t need to take responsibility.  Since he didn’t want it to happen, he shouldn’t have to deal with it.

Almost every mother gives her boyfriend/ex-boyfriend several chances–too many chances–because she knows the baby would benefit from having his/her parents together.

In a reunion episode of Teen Mom, Dr. Drew encourages Maci and Ryan to give it one last go (they’ve already tried to get back together 3 times). He seems to think that the only reason Ryan doesn’t provide for their son, Bentley, is because Maci doesn’t tell Ryan what she needs from him.  That whole ‘you need to tell men what you want because they can’t read your mind’ thing can only go so far. I think it’s ridiculous to expect Maci to instruct Ryan in how to raise their son. He should be finding a job without Maci telling him to, he should help pay for Bentley’s birthday party, and he should not be staying out till 7 AM with his friends. Is his behavior really Maci’s fault because she didn’t tell him how she wanted him to act?  Truly there must be a line where Ryan takes on the responsibility of being a father.  And Maci is completely justified in interpreting Ryan’s absenteeism as apathy towards his son.*

At the end of the day, most of these males are too immature to take care of a child.  It angers me that they don’t mature as a consequence of their actions, just like the mothers have, but I have no control over that.  The only thing it leads me to think about is what happens 10 years later when (maybe) these fathers finally are mature enough.

Should these mothers allow the fathers back into the lives of their children?  On the one hand, you have to think about what’s best for the child.  I don’t know the answer to that question.  But on the other hand, you have this guy who treated you and your baby badly and now wants a ‘get out of jail free’ card. Does he deserve to be forgiven so completely?  And do you even have the moral authority to make the decision?

Thank God I’ll never have to worry about these tough decisions.  But it does make me think about how easily I forgive.

Jesus was all about it, research shows you live longer, but forgiveness is overrated.  I do it because it puts me at peace to forgive someone. I like things to be settled. If I don’t forgive you then I just think about the incident constantly and have crazy emotions about it. But I get frustrated that because of how easily I forgive, the other person never learns a lesson!  In all honesty, how many assholes walk around acting like assholes because no one’s ever made them feel bad enough about it?  At the same time, my lack of forgiveness probably wouldn’t put a true asshole into a repentant epiphany.

Regardless, I often worry about how easily men get away with things.  I think women make mistakes and feel bad about them but men make mistakes and think to themselves “Oh, well I was young then.” They excuse themselves too easily!  And then there are the guys that spend their 20s and maybe even their 30s being an asshole and then they nicen up, find a wonderful and attractive wife and spend the rest of their days joking about their asshole past.  Where is the justice in that?

I’d like to reward the guy who was never an asshole by marrying him.  I think it’s a pretty good consolation prize, don’t you?  Unfortunately, I’ll never truly know if he was ever an asshole because  he’ll tell the narrative of his life in a way that excuses his actions and I’ll love him anyway.  I may even find his newfound enlightenment endearing and sexy.

I just want people to always try to do the right thing.  Maybe I’ll give up on that one day, or maybe I’ll only come to believe in it more and more.

*Dr. Drew also claimed that fathers inherently don’t feel towards their children the way mothers do.  I’ve never been a mother, and I’ll never be a father, but I don’t want to believe this.  There are incredible fathers out there that must love their children and want to express that love as much as the incredible mothers out there.  Dr. Drew, you disappoint me.


1 Comment

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One response to “how far does forgiveness go?

  1. Sarah Noel

    I think fact of the matter is that there’s a lot of ugliness in this world. For all the wonderful ideas, for all the beautiful places and thoughts, there’s probably 50 terrible ones.

    But, we’re stuck here, walking amongst each other trying to get by and (usually) do as little damage as possible. The smart ones make the most of it, and because they’re smart, hopefully they can dodge the assholes when they come around.

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