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My parents, John and Josie have been married for almost 45 years. They met as teenagers and fell for each other in high school.
I am 40 years old and their only child, or so I thought. I recently found out that I have a secret half sister, Lynn, the result of an affair my dad had years ago.
Of course, I’m shocked and disappointed to find out that my father cheated on my mom, but to find out I have a sibling has been a double whammy. An old family friend told me about Lynn because he thought I should know. And no, Lynn and I haven’t met yet since I’m still unsure about how I feel.
I’ve been watching the coverage of Maria and Arnold’s marital problems and am constantly reminded of my father’s own betrayal towards my mom. We all see how upsetting this news can be to a family.
Rene, My mom and dad are happily married now and I don’t think my mom knows. Should I say anything or leave it alone?
No. No, no, nononononononono! AGH! I know you’re shocked and disappointed. I know you’re hurt. I know you feel the need to share that with someone and I would absolutely encourage you to do that, with anyone BUT your mother! Here’s why.
THIS IS BETWEEN YOUR FATHER AND HIS WIFE: Repeat after me: this is not about you. I know you think it is because he’s YOUR father and whether you admit it or not, you claim some ownership of him (not in a literal way but you know what I am saying). How dare this interloper come in and take a piece of YOUR daddy?! So there’s a bit of possessiveness going. What you need to realize is that this was a mistake made many years ago by a man who is human. His relationship with the other woman (and child, if he has one) does not take away anything from the relationship he has with you. He is the same great guy you knew before finding out this information; he’s the same guy now.
QUESTION THE MOTIVE OF THE “FAMILY FRIEND”: Ewwww this is stinky. Who the hell is this “family friend” who, after years of knowing this, felt it necessary to burden you with it? Because that’s exactly what it is. This person could have gone to their grave with this and no one would be the wiser. Now you’re struggling to deal with a matter over which you have no control. I would explain to this “family friend” in no uncertain terms, how much you did NOT appreciate him “sharing” this information. I’d also ask him put a sock in it if he ever felt compelled to say this to anyone else. Then I’d go ahead and remove him from my Rolodex. You know why? Because this nugget of information wasn’t shared with you from a place of love. You don’t need people like that in your life. Buh-Bye.
TALK TO YOUR FATHER: This is not going to be a fireside chat with marshmallows and warm, fuzzy feelings. This is going to be a conversation about accountability. You need to give your dad a chance to explain his actions, understanding that he may choose not to; after all you’re his daughter not his priest. After he’s said his piece (if he chooses to do so) you can explain how you feel about the whole thing. Once you’ve got that off your chest, I’d seriously seek out someone to talk to and I don’t mean a best friend over a bottle of wine. Your world was shaken and you may need help processing it all. There is one other thing that needs to be included in this conversation with your father and it’s about money, specifically inheritance issues. You need to be in the loop on what sort of provisions he has in place to make sure these things don’t get extremely complicated after he’s gone.
Allison, I’m sorry you have to deal with this but this is life and life is messy. People make mistakes, unfortunately many times, without thinking of those they care most about. I hope you are able to work through these issues with your dad, but honestly I can’t see how dropping this bomb in the middle of your parent’s 45-year marriage is going to help.
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