Ask Rene: My Dad Cheated On My Mom! And I Have A Sibling!
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.
3. Talk To Your Father
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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. Good luck! Do you have a question for Rene? She has an answer. Click "Question for Rene" at the top of the page and fire away! (Editor's note: This piece ran in its original format on 7/27/2001)
Rene Syler is a wife, mother, breast cancer advocate and television personality whose burning desire to tell the truth about modern motherhood led her to create GoodEnoughMother.com. When not spending time with her family or burning something for dinner, Rene travels the country as host of Sweet Retreats on The Live Well Network and Exhale on Aspire.