Amy Dickinson
Columnist

Ask Amy: Should son know truth about paternity?

DEAR AMY: Thirteen years ago, I had an affair and conceived a child. My son is now 12, and the husband I cheated on is now my ex-husband.

My ex accepted and treats our son like his own. Never once, even in heated battles about care, money, school or anything, has he said, “He’s not mine, so I don’t care.” I’ve never pulled the, “He’s not your son” argument, either.

Amy Dickinson

Amy Dickinson offers straightforward advice on relationships, family and life in her syndicated column, Ask Amy. Syndicated advice columns are run in their entirety on washingtonpost.com; versions published in the newspaper might differ due to space constraints.

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In talking to my ex about the inevitable revelation of our son’s actual father, my ex says he would prefer our son never know — he’s his son, and that’s that.

I have now remarried. My current husband says the decision is mine and he’ll support it, but he thinks my son should be told the truth.

I grew up without my dad and never knew what it meant to have a dad, so seeing my ex-husband so freely and without judgment take care of a child who is not his, I want to leave well enough alone. Yet there is a part of me that feels our son deserves to know the truth.

My son’s real father owes more than $700,000 in child support and chooses not to be a part of his life.

Do I expose my son to that type of rejection when he has such a loving father whom he has known as his father his whole life? Or does the right to know override all of that? -- Questioning Mom

DEAR MOM: You grew up without a father. Your son grew up with a father.

His dad is his father. The man you had an affair with is the biological father — please don’t use the terms “real” and “actual” to refer to him.

I suspect that one reason you don’t want to tell the truth is because it forces you to face an embarrassing fact about your own life.

If at all possible, you, your ex and your current husband should meet in the office of a family counselor to talk this through.

The truth should be disclosed. But the timing, and the way this is handled, is important.

Your son is at an extremely tender age. Your counselor might suggest that you wait a few months. Your ex may choose to formally and legally adopt him.

You should also abandon any mention of child support. If you had wanted to make a child support claim, you should have handled it many years ago.

It would be a mistake to imply to your son that there is any sort of financial issue on the table.

DEAR AMY: Yesterday, I hosted a baby shower for a friend at my apartment. I knew about half of the guests at the shower and half were friends of the mother-to-be that I had never met before.

My problem is that several guests removed their sandals or flip-flops and walked barefoot around my apartment. I had a major issue with a few of the girls putting their bare feet up on my coffee table or on my couch. This is just outright disgusting. I don’t care how clean your feet are, this is just purely unacceptable to do in someone else’s home.

I also took issue with a few of the guests licking their fingers and then touching the serving pieces. These are grown women! What is the best way to approach these problems the next time I have guests over? -- Rebecca

DEAR REBECCA: Ewww. You can hope that you don’t have to face this again. If you do, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask guests, “Would you mind keeping your shoes on,” or, “Can you take your feet off the table?”

In regards to policing finger-licking, leave it alone.

DEAR AMY: If a good friend of mine invites my husband and me to her child’s wedding, my husband thinks he shouldn’t attend because he is not friends with the parents and he doesn’t know the child. I think he should attend with me. Who is right? -- Curious

DEAR CURIOUS: You are. One way to get to know people (and perhaps befriend them) is to attend events to which you are invited.

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

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

 
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