- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 16, 2008

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I was born and raised in a small town in Nebraska and married my high-school sweetheart four years ago. When my husband deployed last year, I decided to stay here in Alexandria instead of going home to be with my family. I think that was where I made my mistake.

I was miserable after my husband was deployed. I tried to find a good job, but there is only so much you can do with a high school diploma. I started partying and drinking with friends. I met this guy and had an affair with him — and became pregnant. When my husband came home for a two-week visit, I acted like I became pregnant when he was home. In my heart, I knew the baby did not belong to my husband, but I guess I just hoped maybe I was wrong, and the baby would be his.

For a while, my boyfriend and I thought we wanted to be together, but when my husband came back for good, I fell in love with my husband all over again. Now we have a beautiful 4-month-old little girl. She is biracial and it is obvious my husband did not father her.

My husband has commented on how dark her skin is (she’s your complexion, Ms. Vicki). I keep telling him we have dark people in my family. He acts like he believes me, but said he wants to meet my dark family members. I’m finding myself visiting tanning salons so my daughter’s darkness will not look as obvious to my husband. I’m afraid of telling him the truth because I don’t want to lose my marriage.

I want to embrace my daughter as she is a very beautiful little baby. Ms. Vicki, I need some coaching to help me fess up. — Troubled in Alexandria

Dear Troubled,

You don’t get a child with skin like mine unless a parent is of African descent. It appears your husband knows the truth and is perhaps waiting for you to “fess up.” You said you have a beautiful daughter — for this reason, you must do the right thing and tell the truth. Would you really let her grow up wondering why her complexion is different from you and your husband’s? How do you think she would feel about who she is?

I remember going through the school years and how peers could always find some reason to tease people. I was called “giraffe girl” for a while because I was taller than most of the boys. Then I became “Frankenstein girl,” “black girl,” “the girl with the big nose,” “big lips,” etc. Here’s my point. I never let those things validate who I was. Why? I knew who I was. I came from parents who were tall and dark with big facial features — all of which were beautiful. Even today when I look in the mirror, I love what I see. Your daughter needs the same.

I’m not sure what’s going to happen with your marriage. I’m not sure your husband will be willing to stay with you and raise a child who does not biologically belong to him. But you must tell the truth and let him decide.

My last advice is to tell you to learn more about who you really are. Your husband was deployed and you were lonely. You (in my opinion) wanted to walk on the wild side for a while. If you are ever in the same situation — i.e., your husband is deployed — would you choose the same actions or would you choose good, pro-social activities such as continuing your education, participating in esteem-building hobbies or finding employment (even if it pays minimum wage)?

Again, this has a lot to do with you and the choices you made. I’m not trying to be judgmental or condescending. I’m just saying you have to do the right thing for your daughter. Keep in touch and let me know when you finally confess the truth.

Vicki Johnson is a licensed clinical social worker, military spouse and mother of three. Her column runs in The Washington Times on Thursdays and Sundays. Contact her at [email protected]

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