Dear Amy: After we divorced (decades ago), at some point my ex-husband told me that he was the father of another boy (he and I have two sons).
I've kept his secret for a couple of decades.
My sons are 39 and 36.
I'm wondering if I should tell them that they have a half-sibling, since their father clearly hasn't? I think I'd want to know if I were in their shoes.
I'm no longer on good terms with my ex, and I fear his anger if I were to ask him whether he plans to tell them.
What do you think? I'd hate them to think I was telling them to put their father in a bad light.
Unsure: This is the very definition of “not your business.” And yet, because these are your sons, you can tell yourself that knowing about a half brother is important for them, or that at the very least they should know about this because their well-being IS your business.
Given the ubiquity of DNA testing these days, there is some likelihood that these brothers will all stumble across one another at some point.
There is no need to shame, blame or push this — you could tell your ex (using a neutral tone) that this has been on your mind lately and that you think he should consider disclosing it to your sons.
(Obviously, if your ex is frightening or dangerous and if this contact would put you at risk, you should not do so, but if all you fear is your own discomfort at being told to mind your own business, then you might risk it.)
However, given the remoteness of the situation (your ex told you after you were divorced, he doesn’t seem to have met this son or had any contact with him, and you don’t have verification that this is true), I believe you should leave any actual disclosure up to him.
Dear Amy: My niece is planning her destination wedding.
I am happy for her and her beau, but my dilemma is that she does not plan to invite her mother (my sister) to her wedding because they do not get along.
In fact, they have not spoken in more than a year.
I have been invited, but I am concerned that my attendance would be devastating to my relationship with my sister.
I realize the guest list is my niece's choice, but I am torn.
Do you have recommendations?
— Torn Aunt
Torn Aunt: If your sister’s relationship with her daughter has deteriorated to the point where they don’t speak, then your sister probably anticipates that she will not be invited to the wedding — and perhaps would refuse to go even if she were invited.
Your choice will rest to some extent on how you perceive and understand this estrangement.
Does this tattered mother/daughter relationship mean that all of your sister’s family members must follow suit and reject her daughter?
A person who demands blind loyalty should not be in charge of your relationships, and if you decline to attend because you are afraid of your sister’s reaction toward you, then this speaks to a serious imbalance in your sisterly relationship.
However, this situation is bound to make a mother feel sad and regretful. You might say to your sister, “I’ve been invited to ‘Annie’s’ wedding, and I plan to attend. I’m not doing this to hurt you, and I certainly wish you could be there. I’m sorry you won’t be.”
Dear Amy: I loved your reply to "Unwanted Black Sheep," who was always an afterthought to her in-laws.
You suggested sending her husband and kids off to the in-laws and staying home with the dog.
Sixty years ago, when our twins were babies, every time my parents had friends or relatives stop in, my mother would call and ask us to bring the twins over so so-and-so could see them.
One day I sent my husband and the babies over and stayed home with our older son.
My mother called and asked why I stayed home with our son.
I said, "Well, you asked for the twins, so that's what you got."
We were all included in future invites.
— Been There
Been There: Well played!
2021 by Amy Dickinson distributed by Tribune Content Agency
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