Life Advice



Ask Amy: DNA reveals family secret and resentment

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: Information I received from my genetic testing revealed that my father had two other children while married to my mother within our supposedly “intact” family.

I am allowing the picture I have of my past, my childhood, and my family to (painfully) reshape my personal history, as this knowledge integrates into my whole self.

This is also sticky: My dad has dementia, and my mother has many expectations for my support in terms of his care. (My mom is not 100 percent there, either.)

How do I care for my father and not resent him?

How do I explain to my mother my occasional inability to handle my father with compassion and equanimity?

– Who's my Daddy?


Dear Who’s: I’m assuming that you have been able to confirm that this DNA information is accurate and true. Commercially available DNA testing kits sometimes report biological cousins as half-siblings – and visa-versa. You should verify the information you have received.

However, regardless of your situation, when it comes to family relationships, there is no hedge against resentment.

You could have grown up in a wonderfully “intact” family that had no such complications, but you might now resent your obligation to provide care for your father for a host of other reasons.

I suggest that you should be more realistic about your feelings, and instead of trying not to feel them, you should learn how to cope with them.


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