I have been married for six years, and I have a precious daughter whom I love with all my heart; but I also have something that torments me: another daughter who was born as the result of a relationship with another woman before I was married to my wife…. I was never man enough to admit my mistake, and now I feel a great weight on me.

My family doesn’t know anything about this, and I don’t know how to tell them. Is there still a chance that God will forgive me?

Dear Friend,

Yes, God will forgive you. He forgives anyone who sincerely repents and asks Him for forgiveness. The apostle John wrote, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”(1) Many people believe that repenting only means being sorry for what you have done. However, repenting also means that you change your attitudes and actions, and that you make up for the damage that you have caused. Unless you are ready to make restitution, your attitude has not really changed regarding what you did.

The weight that you feel is your conscience doing what God designed it to do. It is reminding you of your sin and of the consequence of that sin. In your case, the consequence is a living, breathing little girl who doesn’t know her father. Did she do anything wrong? No. Does she deserve to have a father who loves her? Yes. Who is the only person who can give her what she needs and deserves? You.

There is no good way to tell your family. There are no magic words to cure the hurt that they will feel. Tell your wife first, and ask her for her forgiveness. She will likely feel betrayed that you kept such a significant secret, and she will probably lash out in anger. So remember that you deserve it. And give her days and even weeks to get over her hurt and anger before expecting her to be able to discuss the situation calmly.

Then, together with your wife, contact your daughter’s mother and apologize for your past actions. Explain that you want to help financially and that you want to be able to begin a relationship with your daughter. If your daughter is still very young, it will be easy to win her affection; if she is already a teenager, it will take a long time.

If your wife is emotionally mature, she will come to understand that you can have a relationship with your other daughter without having a relationship with your daughter’s mother. However, no matter how emotionally mature she is, it will be even more difficult for your wife to adjust to having to contribute financially to another child. It would have been so much better if she had known about this before she married you!

Nevertheless, you can have a clean conscience, the weight can be lifted, and your little daughter can have a father. It’s up to you.

Do the right thing,

1 1Jn 1:9