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Ask Amy: I promised to keep her secret but now I think it should be told


Dear Amy: Fifty-two years ago, my sister shared a secret with me on the condition that I tell no one.

She has five children, two of them with her first husband. The secret is that the three others were conceived with three different men while she was married to that husband.

I’m experiencing guilt about holding this secret and feel my adult nieces and nephews have a basic right to know their truth.

Her fear of being disowned by her children once they know the truth keeps her quiet. Plus, she sees no reason to upset so many families.

Is it her secret to keep from her five adult children?

The letters I read in your column make it clear that eventually, with the prevalence of DNA testing, it’s only a matter of time until this is revealed.

Is it my secret to tell?

Your thoughts?

Not my Secret?

Dear Not: Knowing a secret doesn’t make it “yours.” So this secret is not yours to share.

Yes, your sister’s adult children do have the right to know their DNA heritage. Your sister is the person who should tell them.

She can either tell them herself and have a hope of controlling the narrative, or she can wait until the inevitable DNA search reveals the truth.

Keep in mind that if any of the three affected siblings (or their children) register on a DNA site, they could become connected with other DNA relatives out there (unknown half-siblings, for instance) and could start the process of unraveling this very tangled web.

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You might be helpful to your sister if you offer to talk this through with her and assure her that you will offer her continued emotional support.

Dear Amy: I work for a small spa. Over the last eight years, my family and the owners’ family have become friends. We have young children who play together.

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