I am a single mother. I’ve been living with my boyfriend for a year. He has a daughter and I have a son, both teenagers, and we have been living together as a family.

A short time ago we found out that our two teenagers had an inappropriate encounter and, even though they didn’t go all the way, things happened that should have never happened. Because of that, my boyfriend broke up with me and I moved out of the house.

I feel let down and ashamed, because that is not the example that I set for my son…. I am shattered because my home was destroyed and I love that man. I feel miserable! My life is falling to pieces. I am depressed, angry, disillusioned, sad.

Dear Friend,

We are saddened to hear of what the two teenagers did, and we regret your current situation. We would like to offer you hope for your future and for your son’s future.

Your story sounds like both the teenagers were willing participants in the encounter. If one of them had taken advantage of the other in any way, including if one was several years older than the other, then that information would change the counsel that we are giving.

However, we think it is likely that if the girl had been guilty of any kind of coercion, you would have said so. But in order to protect your son, you might not have mentioned it if it was he who intimidated or put pressure on her. Stereotypically parents assume that it was the boy’s fault, whether or not that is true, so it is likely that your former boyfriend blames your son, and that you blame your son also. It sounds like you feel overwhelming anger towards him and fault him for destroying your happiness.

Nevertheless, if there was mutual consent, then they both share the guilt. Since we believe that God’s plan is for us to have sex only with our spouse, what happened between the two of them was wrong and deserves appropriate discipline.

It is admirable that your former boyfriend sacrificed his own romantic relationship to help prevent his daughter from engaging in further sexual activity. If more single parents put a higher priority on their children’s needs than on their own romantic relationships, those children would be much better off emotionally.

You say that you set a different example for your son. We don’t know anything else about your life or example, but we do know that you were having a sexual relationship with someone who was not your spouse. Wasn’t your son just following that example?

You had your son before you had the relationship with your former boyfriend. Therefore, your first priority should be the one who came first. You need to forgive your son and focus on providing him with a loving mother who participates in his activities and sets appropriate boundaries.

However, you need help to forgive and to get your priorities in order. We advise you to begin a personal relationship with God by asking Him to forgive you for your sins. Then, find a church where the people trust God and have been changed by the teachings of the Bible. Many churches have groups of single parents who provide support for one another.

We wish you the best,