Life Advice



Ask Amy: Family secrets create a wedge between siblings

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

– Irritated by Secrets

Dear Irritated: If you don’t want to visit your parents because the web of secrets you’ve been exposed to makes you an unwilling participant, then maybe you should call a temporary “time out” and not visit for a while.

If your folks ask why you don’t want to attend a family gathering, you could truthfully tell them that you find the overall family dynamic of whistling past any personal challenges and issues exhausting, because you would like to be able to communicate about these things.

It would be a mistake for you to convey that you are sitting in judgment of your various family members, but you have the right to assert your own needs.

You should also convey directly to your brother in clear language that you will not be his secret-keeper because it puts you in the terrible position of lying by omission.

I’m not suggesting that you should turn around and blow the lid off his personal business, but if he ghosts you over this, then so be it.


In my view, if your folks want to praise your brothers when speaking to you then you should do your best to listen patiently. They may be trying to paper over problems in order to draw you closer to your siblings. They likely do the same when describing you to your brothers.

Dear Amy: My girlfriend and I are very close with another couple.

We go on double dates, hang out at each other’s place, and were in their wedding.

We have put a lot of thought and money into the gifts we have given them over the years – at Christmastime, and for their wedding.


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