Mom Wonders How To Reveal Youngest Son's Parentage
DEAR ABBY: I have a wonderful 12-year-old son, "Oliver," who was conceived during a date rape at a work party. I don't remember much about that night. When I found out I was pregnant, I hoped my husband at the time was the father. When the baby came, it was obvious he wasn't, because Oliver is a different race. (I am Caucasian, and I'm thinking Oliver may be Pacific Islander.)
We divorced when Oliver was 2, and my ex had a DNA test, which, of course, proved he was not the father. Despite the findings, after I explained what happened, he offered to be Oliver's "dad" because he had bonded with him -- provided he would not have to pay child support. I agreed. I have two other older sons whom he fathered.
There have been times when Oliver and his brothers have asked about his brown skin, and I have been able to dodge the question. He's getting to an age where I don't think I can hold off much longer.
I always knew the time would come when he would have to know his dad is not his biological father, but I'm not sure what to tell him. I don't think I want him to know he is a product of rape, nor do I want to throw myself under the bus and say I cheated on his dad. That would open up questions about who his bio dad is. Please help. -- LOOKING FOR BEST WAY IN WASHINGTON
DEAR LOOKING: I fail to understand why you would equate "rape" with "cheating." What happened wasn't your fault, and you should feel neither guilt nor shame that it happened. While I understand your desire to protect Oliver, you should tell him the truth. When you do, be sure to emphasize how much you and your ex love him and how proud you are that he is your son.
DEAR ABBY: I'm in the process of building my first house down the street from my parents. (The lot was a good deal.) Recently, my mom told me she wants a key so she and Dad can have access to my house in case of severe weather (we live in tornado country). The layout and foundation of my house are sturdier than theirs. When I told her I didn't want anyone to have a key, she got really offended. It made me feel awful, but Abby, this is my first house, and if I have to give a key to someone when I don't want to, it defeats the purpose of having my own place.
I have been living with my parents to save up, and Mom has used guilt trips against me before. My sister and brother-in-law agree I shouldn't give in to her. I feel like a horrible daughter for refusing because she's not the type to snoop, but there have been instances when I've been in my room and she has entered without knocking. Should I stick to my guns or am I wrong? -- DAUGHTER IN DILEMMA
DEAR DAUGHTER: It strikes me as somewhat pushy that your mother would ask for a key to your home before it is even completed. What have your parents done during previous tornadoes? Because the house symbolizes your independence, I don't think you should hand the key over. It may make sense to have someone you trust be able to enter if you are traveling or have a pet that needs to be walked while you are working. In that event, you may change your mind and see the wisdom in offering her one.
P.S. If she abuses your trust, you can always have your locks changed.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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