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Philippa Courtney



Our Religious Differences Get in the Way


Dear Philippa,

My girlfriend and I have been dating for over eight years. Because she is a Mormon and I am a Catholic and won't convert, her parents don't want me to be a part of her life. She and I have a daughter together, yet she won't even tell me exactly where she lives and she lies to me about things. I feel that she should separate from her parents as they have a bad influence on our relationship. I grew up in a big family and I have moved close to where she lives so I can see my daughter. I feel so alone. She totally controls the time I spend with my daughter and if I have any disagreements with my girlfriend, she won't let me see my little girl. I'm confused. What should I do?

�Patrick, Boise, ID


Dear Patrick,

I think that people who read this letter, me included, are shocked that you have been going through all this for eight, long years. Religious differences don't keep people apart; people's attitudes do. If your girlfriend wasn't a Mormon but simply had over-controlling parents who didn't want her to see you, you would still be in the same situation. And blaming the parents or her for what's going on doesn't accomplish anything.

Patrick, the issue here isn't about religious differences, it's about control. It sounds like your girlfriend is being controlled by her parents and she is taking what she has learned from them and is controlling you. You are not a victim�you are allowing yourself to be controlled. Only you can break this chain of control and set yourself free.

It sounds like you have given up all your power to her�she completely controls the situation with your daughter. After eight years you need to face the fact that you will not be allowed to have a normal relationship with your girlfriend and your daughter. You need to decide what is most important to you, having a normal relationship with your daughter or an unhealthy one with your girlfriend. Isn't it better that your daughter learns from the positive example of two parents who have their own lives than what she's learning from your current situation?

If you decide that you really want to be a significant part of your daughter's life then find a parental rights group and/or an attorney that can advise you. As the father of your child, you have legal rights to see her and know where she lives. Keep this matter to yourself until you have outside counsel because your girlfriend is already hiding her whereabouts from you, the parents could influence your girlfriend to take your daughter and go away if you don't handle things correctly. So get the right advice before seeking fair legally-required visitation.

The best thing you can do is to stop seeing this woman as your girlfriend (just the mother of your child) and move on with your own life. It sounds like she will be happier too without her parents disapproving of her seeing you.

See the possibility of a new life with regular visits with your daughter. And see yourself meeting a wonderful woman, someone who can make up her own mind and is both ready and emotionally available to share her life with you. You are a good man and you deserve to be happy.



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