Ask Amy: Wife contacts husband’s long-lost daughter

May 23, 2011

Dear Amy:

My husband has two children from a previous marriage and an older child from a very brief marriage before that, when he was in his early 20s.

Although he is a great dad to his two youngest, when we met he shamefully admitted that he hadn’t seen or spoken to his oldest child in several years and desperately wanted to reconnect with her. I strongly encouraged him to do so.

Well, months turned into years and, despite having the opportunity, he never contacted her. Then, a couple of years ago, the girl’s mother wrote to him informing him of their new address. He genuinely seemed excited about the prospect of talking to his daughter again but then in a freakish twist we lost the envelope containing the address.

Out of the blue, I managed to find the girl on a social networking site. I explained who I was and out of respect for her, I told her I would not inform her father of my discovery unless she gave me her blessing first.

She was very gracious and said she appreciated my “thoughtfulness.” She also politely informed me that she had no desire to speak to or get to know her father in any way. She felt that he had broken too many promises and missed too many opportunities in the past. Although it saddens me greatly, I wish to respect her decision.

She has declined to provide any further contact info, and I expect that she’ll be “unfriending” me soon. My husband has no idea that I found her. Should I stop encouraging him so much? Should I tell him everything? Should I not say anything and hope that he finds her on his own? He feels bad enough, so is he better off just not knowing?

Wondering Wife

Do not let his paralysis create an atmosphere of secrecy between you. Tell your husband what you’ve done.

I think his daughter’s reaction to this contact is completely natural and he should understand that she is as stuck as he is.

The ex-wife chose to notify your husband of her new address for a reason. The same social network that led you to this daughter would also lead your husband to his ex-wife, who should be able to broker some sort of contact between the two.

The huge emotional weight he carries will ease the minute he makes any effort. Your job should be to encourage and support his efforts, not to do this for him.

Dear Amy:

I’m responding to the letter from “Curious,” the longtime health care worker whose colleague was annoyed by the level of talk and laughter coming from the staff area.

While the area may be closed off from the examination and other patient areas, sound does travel and perhaps the colleague realizes that.

I was recently at my primary care physician’s office for an appointment and, while waiting, was able to overhear the staff mocking and gossiping about another patient who canceled an appointment without what they felt was the proper amount of notice.

When they were finished mocking and gossiping about that patient, they began to gossip about other patients.

This behavior was very unprofessional and immature, to say the least! I made up my mind at that moment to find another doctor with a more professional staff.

No Gossip Please!

This behavior reflects very poorly on all of the professionals in the office. In addition to being unprofessional, their gossip may be violating the HIPAA privacy statutes.

I completely agree with your decision to look for another physician, but I hope you will do the right thing and also notify your doctor of the reason you are leaving the practice.

Dear Amy:

“Non-Gossiping Neighbor” liked the neighbors, but not their gossip. Like most people, I have a strongly negative reaction to the word “gossip.”

For the neighbors who need to be confronted about talking about other neighbors who are not present, what about this: “You know, I try to not say anything about someone I wouldn’t say in front of that person.”

Is this an improvement?

A Reader

It most definitely is. Thank you.

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

2011 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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