Dear Amy: My husband and I recently had our DNA tested.
We knew people can uncover unexpected relationships, but I wish we had thought about how to cope with this before we took our tests.
Amy, both of us have discovered that we have half-siblings.
My father had two children with another woman while I was in junior high.
My husband's father had a child with a close family friend while his mother was pregnant with him.
Both of us are trying to understand this without the ability to ask our fathers (deceased), and without any deep understanding of what was happening at the time.
The last thing we want to do is ask our mothers, who are quite elderly.
Please caution your readers to consider, before submitting their DNA, what their own feelings and actions will be if they find out something shocking.
My husband and I agree that we are glad we know, but it has been difficult — particularly because all of these half-siblings really don't want to meet or know us.
My question to you is — should we tell our siblings? They may want to know, but we are not sure.
As we have found out, once you know something, you can't unknow it. Additionally, we know that eventually as more family members do their DNA, they may also learn about this.
What to do?
Dear Bewildered: Sometimes we are forced to learn things we do not want to know. The unexplored or unexpected truth is always lurking at the edges, and sometimes it finds its way in.
I do believe your siblings should be told about this, but you should offer up this information not through the rip of a bandage (or the clicking open of an email), but by granting them an advantage that you didn’t have, in the form of a warning that this might be a tough truth to learn.
You might rehearse different ways to start this conversation: “Warren and I recently had our DNA tested, and we were both handed some extremely surprising and upsetting information regarding our families. Frankly, this was information I didn’t want or expect, but now that I know it, I believe you have the right to know it, too – if you want. I just want to prepare you in case you plan to have your DNA tested. If you want to discuss this with me instead, I’m certainly willing to do that. If you would rather not discuss it, that’s OK, too.”
After that, try not to attach to any particular or specific response, including the possibility of a sibling blaming you for bringing this to their attention. Undoubtedly, that same sibling would also blame you for keeping it to yourself.
Dear Amy: A very dear friend of mine is dating a man who is racist, phony, full of himself, selfish and has publicly humiliated her in the past.
He nearly killed a few of his and her family members by being reckless with COVID safety, too. These family members narrowly escaped, so now he thinks he's in the clear and continues to be reckless. Needless to say, I can't stand him.
My friend recently asked me in an email conversation if I like him.
This is a simple enough question, seemingly, but I have avoided answering since I'm not sure what to say.
I don't want to lie, but I also know that honesty could cause a serious rift.
How should I respond to suit both my conscience and our friendship?
– On the Fence
Dear On the Fence: A judicious answer is called for. We do not live in judicious times, however, so let me try to provide a possible script: “I assume it’s obvious that I don’t agree with ‘Sean’ on some pretty basic matters. Most important to me, however, is how he treats you. In my opinion, he doesn’t always give you the respect I know you deserve, and I sometimes find that upsetting. The most important thing for you to know, however, is that I’ve got your back, no matter what.”
Dear Amy: I thought your answer to “Stoner – Trying to do Better” was good, but you missed an important point. This guy has obviously been self-medicating for his extreme mood swings. He should have a mental health screening.
– Former Stoner
Dear Former: I addressed the fact that as his pot use decreased, his underlying issues were emerging. Yes, I agree that he should get a thorough screening.
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