I was married to a widower for five years. We raised his three children together.
I was the only person he told that he was not his eldest son’s biological father.
He’d been the driver in a fatal car accident which killed his friend. His friend's girlfriend then told him she was pregnant.
They married. He raised the child as his own. They had other children and later divorced. When his ex-wife died, he took custody of all the children and never told his son the truth.
I've always been somewhat haunted by this knowledge.
His ex-wife's parents, whom he believed never knew, have both died. Her only sibling died young.
My ex and I divorced 30 years ago. I left the country, and saw my stepchildren increasingly less, though amicably.
My ex recently died. The eldest son, whom I haven’t seen in 15 years, is approaching 50.
I keep thinking he has a right to know.
His biological father's family is quite distinguished, and he may be their only grandson.
Yet I know that such revelations can be hard to take, and can cause big disturbances in families.
Do I have an obligation to tell him?
You’ve entrusted me with a very complex ethical question which is a very serious decision for you.
But rather than debate it in a vacuum of years without contact, I suggest you meet this man and your other stepchildren, if possible.
You’ll see/ hear about their relationship to each other, which matters here.
Also, spend enough time with the eldest son to assess his general well-being.
Example: If he has health issues different from the others, you may feel his need for knowing his genetic background must be considered.
Your task requires time and sensitivity.
Just dropping the news abruptly to relieve your own conscience about knowing it, could be very disruptive to his life.
I’m 43, divorced two years after a 12-year marriage. My son, age 11, is with me 50% of the time.
I have a great relationship with my ex-husband.
I’m introverted and a little socially awkward. I love my alone time, reading, watching TV, doing small home repairs.
I visit my parents twice weekly. At work, I’m around people so I have some social contact.
But I don't really have friends.
Online dating wasn't my thing. Not having friends or a man in my life doesn't usually bother me.
However, some family members are worried about me. They question what I do for fun.
I’ve been invited to my brother and sister-in-law's home because I “need to get out” of my house more (their reason).
This feels more like a pity invite.
I'm getting annoyed with digs about how am I going to meet friends or a man?
Should I actually be listening to them?
Is Being Alone Okay?
You’re obviously wondering yourself if solitude is good for you long-term.
Your son, as he approaches his teens, may likely be going out with friends, even during his time with you.
His absence may make you feel more alone sometimes.
However, your only social goal doesn’t have to be dating.
Look to your own interests regarding getting out. Reading can be shared through joining a book club.
A walking group can give you a limited period of sociability without requiring long, intense conversations.
Such outings are a way to show yourself and your family that you’re not living isolated… and hopefully stop their well-meant worrying about you.
FEEDBACK Regarding the husband considering leaving his wife because of her sexuality (Feb. 23):
Reader – “His description of her sex life before marriage oozes with judgment and condemnation.
“The wife has likely picked up on this, especially his disgust over a (debatable) college “orgy” and rightly has hidden that side of herself.
“She knows he’ll never accept her previous sexual experiences and will judge her and probably divorce her.
“If this man cannot accept things that happened prior to their relationship, he cannot continue being married to her.
“It's wholly unfair for her to have to live with this judgment for the rest of her married life.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the insulting step-mother-in-law (Feb. 25):
Reader – “The writer’s wife called his son's dying wife a "sex worker.”
“It took this father five years to even “think” that was a mistake.
“He and his wife are fortunate they weren't sued by his son and late daughter-in-law for slander.”
Tip of the day:
Divulging a birth secret must be decided through careful assessment and great sensitivity.