Life Advice



Ask Amy: Private disclosure puts in-law in the middle

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

– Used to be Mom

Dear Used to be Mom: You are still a mom, but unfortunately you are currently estranged from your son.

Estrangement is not uncommon, although it often goes unacknowledged – for the very reasons you don’t want to discuss it: estrangements are often complex and confusing. They are also a source of shame or embarrassment for both parties.

Anyone could understand why you might not want to discuss at length the estrangement between you and your son, but spinning a complete fiction about his life isn’t healthy for you.

I hope you will find a version of the truth which you won’t find too painful to deliver. For instance, you might say, “My son has had a tough time lately. Unfortunately, we aren’t in touch.”

Most people will accept this, but if someone presses you, practice saying, “I don’t really want to discuss it. Thank you for understanding.”

Dear Amy: After 50 years of genealogy research, I did a DNA test and found out that neither of my male grandparents were my biological grandfathers.

Like the first cousin in the question from “DNA Dispute,” I found it totally disorienting.


What helped me was reading several books about other's experiences.

Many of the stories describe the emotions that we all feel, and some even have situations where family members did know (or always suspected) the truth.

– D

Dear D: These DNA discoveries are indeed disorienting. Your choice to learn from others’ experiences is a very healthy one.


(You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

©2021 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.




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