I was married for fourteen years…. After five years of marriage, my husband was unfaithful to me, and became an alcoholic and addicted to drugs.

Even so, I stayed with him until the day that he touched my older daughter inappropriately. That day I left him for good. I didn’t want to know anything about him. It was a very difficult time for me…

Ten years have passed, and we saw him again. My older daughter got married. My younger daughter, who never had to deal with her father because she was only two years old when we separated, doesn’t want him around. She says that she doesn’t like him, and that there is something about him that she doesn’t trust. I don’t know what to do. He’s not the same man anymore: he’s rehabilitated, and asked for forgiveness. Should I let him talk to my daughters and have a father-daughter relationship with them? … My older daughter has forgiven him, but my other daughter doesn’t want him to visit us at our house.

Dear Friend,

You have survived many difficult years, and have come through strong and resilient. You were faithful to your marriage vows even when your husband wasn’t, but you wisely knew that abuse of your daughter was not something that you could ever tolerate.

Does any mother tolerate her child being abused? Unfortunately, many do. They pretend they don’t know, or they lie to themselves trying to believe that the horrible act will never happen again. Some even blame the child for what happened, and hold the child responsible for endangering the stability of the home. As unbelievable as it sounds, some women are willing to sacrifice their own children to try and keep whatever it is that they think they have, whether that be economic security or a romantic relationship.

You, however, did not do that! You protected your daughter in spite of what that meant to you personally. We only wish other women would follow your example.

As for your ex-husband, it is good that you can see that he is no longer an alcoholic or addicted to drugs. But the tendency toward pedophilia is not something that is observable. Pedophiles manage to hide their horrible secret for decades unless they are caught. So, while we are glad that you and your older daughter have forgiven your ex-husband, that does not mean that you should trust him.

We believe, rather, that you should not ever let your ex-husband come to your home. To do so would give him hope that he might be able to reconcile with you. And, as your younger daughter rightly perceives, he should not be trusted.

When your younger daughter becomes an adult, she can reconsider what kind of relationship she wants to have with her father. But we support her decision to have nothing to do with him for now.

Jesus taught that we must forgive others if we want to be forgiven by our Heavenly Father.(1) But neither Jesus nor the apostles ever taught that we must put ourselves in danger to prove that we have forgiven someone who has wronged us.

We wish you the best,

1 Mt 6:14