Dear Amy: I have recently discovered — through DNA testing — that the man who raised me is not my biological father.
Actually, this isn’t a great surprise, as I look nothing like my three siblings, and have always wondered why.
As many people have discovered, there were a lot of “extra-curricular” activities when men were deployed during World War II and women were home and this appears to be one of those instances.
My siblings and I are in our 70s, and my parents’ generation is all gone.
The dilemma is whether — and how — to tell my siblings about this discovery.
While I am in favor of telling them, my wife wonders if I should.
And if I were to tell them, how should the topic be introduced? Wondering
Dear Wondering: Your wife is doing what loving spouses do by introducing a “what if” qualifier. Listen to her (and to me), and then make your own choice.
Here’s one way to start your conversation: “Hey, what’s up with all this DNA testing?”
My point is that when you’re ready, the way to talk about this is to just start talking, and let the verbs and nouns fall where they may.
When it comes to introducing a challenging or difficult topic, however, I think it’s always wisest, and easiest, to start by saying, “This is tough. I’m not really sure how to do this, but I hope you will bear with me …”
One or more of your siblings may be upset by this (at least, initially). They may feel betrayed by this evidence of your mother’s infidelity, and they could blame you for being the messenger.
It is also a strong possibility that one or more of your siblings may know about this (especially if they are older), or may have suspected it.
Your DNA parentage might represent a long-held family secret that will finally be resolved.
You seem to have a measured and rational reaction to this news, likely because, even though you may have questions about your DNA, you actually really do know who you are.
You are a man who was raised by your two parents, and you are part of an aging sibling group who has already been through life together. This is one more adventure for you to encounter as a family.
Your demonstrated equanimity, as well as an open and loving attitude, will set the tone.
Dear Amy: My niece is angry at a few members of our family. We offered our apologies, but they were rejected.
My daughter is getting married, and that’s making things awkward.
I recently learned that my niece moved into her first house.
I texted her congratulations and asked for her mailing address, in order to send the invitation. She responded: “Please send it to my father’s house, as it’s just easier.”
Easier than receiving mail at her house?
She’s made it clear that she wants to stay angry.
I assumed that including her in the family event might begin to heal bad feelings. Now I’m just annoyed.
I’m supposed to invite someone to a wedding who won’t tell me where she lives? Offended
Dear Offended: You sound like a mature person, but you might be too willing to chalk your niece’s response up to a family rift, rather than a simple and truthful instruction.
I can think of many reasons why a person who is in a new home might not be confident about her mail service, but your niece’s refusal to communicate about the recent dust-up in your family is bound to make you wonder.
Dear Amy: I was quite disturbed by your response to “Gardener,” who witnessed two teenage boys stealing plants from her garden.
I cannot believe that you suggested this homeowner should call the police.
That advice could get those boys killed. Upset
Dear Upset: My suggestion that this small-town homeowner should call her “local police department or sheriff’s office” to report this petty theft inspired many readers to respond with reactions similar to yours.
This assumption — that police kill teenagers — reflects the horror and fear of police violence, and whether this is a strictly accurate description of our current reality, the shocking truth is that many Americans (at least those responding to this column) have lost their faith in the police.
I admit to underestimating the magnitude of how afraid many people are of the police, who are supposed to protect them.
Email Amy Dickinson at email@example.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.