Ask Amy: Secret daughter wants to reveal relationship

June 10, 2013

DEAR AMY: My mother was involved with my father while he was “separated” from his wife. When he found out she was pregnant, he went back to his wife. He stayed with his wife and had three more children. None of them know about me.

I met my father after I graduated from high school. We tried to have a relationship, but it ended quite badly many years ago, mainly because he wanted to keep his contact with me hidden from his wife and children. I did not take well to being the family secret, and we have not spoken since.

I have now found my siblings on Facebook. They are all adults (18 to 24). I think they should know about me, and I would like the opportunity to have them (but not their parents) in my life.

I’m afraid of how our father will react and am nervous to contact them. Do you think I should, and what’s the best way to do so? -- Long-Lost Sister

DEAR LOST: Let’s think this through. You contact these siblings on Facebook. You tell them, “I’m your long-lost sister. I’d like to have a relationship with you but not with your parents.”

These siblings might feel very loyal to their folks and might not take kindly to your attempt to control this potentially fraught relationship from the outset. Most important, if you did this, your effort would likely fail.

The way to these siblings is not through social networking but through your father. You’ll need to try again.

The tone of your query is punitive. Until you make peace with your biological father’s ample failings, you will not be able to complete this important family circle and forge new relationships. The burden is on you to handle this carefully.

Let your father know that you intend to contact your siblings. And then ask for his help. If he refuses, then you’ll have another decision to make.

DEAR AMY: I have been dating a woman in another city for five months. We’ve seen each other almost every weekend. We get along well, and I can see us having a very long relationship. I have two teen boys and a girl who live with their mother. She has two daughters, ages 6 and 11, who live with her.

Our parenting styles differ in some ways, and I’m wondering if this will be an issue. I raised my kids to be respectful of others and their privacy, and to be self-sufficient, even at an early age.

She tends to spoil her girls, especially her youngest. She seems to have the run of the house for the most part, and that’s something I would never have done. The girl sleeps with her mom every night and will go into the bathroom when her mom is in there.

She is a very sweet girl, but what I see is a child controlling a parent, and the parent enables it. Am I overreacting, or is this something that should be addressed? -- Confused BF

DEAR CONFUSED: If your girlfriend’s parenting style bothers you now, then yes, I’d say it will surface as an issue later. For now, however, you should keep your views to yourself.

Your children are older, and you may have a more seasoned perspective, but if they are living with their mother, this tells me you are also not their primary caregiver. A single mother with two daughters parents differently from a noncustodial single dad with two sons.

If your girlfriend solicits your views, then weigh in. Otherwise, give your relationship much more time before you tell her that her sweet 6-year-old needs to grow up.

DEAR AMY: I’m a 74-year-old grandmother of four great-grandchildren. My birthday gifts are always money, since it is an opportunity for them to either save it for something special or blow it, if they see fit.

When I read “AG’s” complaint about an aunt sending one of his children a meager $25, my ears started to burn. What a selfish family this is! -- Burning Mad

DEAR MAD: Many readers were shocked by the blatant selfishness expressed in this letter.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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