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to keep a family secret when it doesn't feel right

181 replies

MilleniumForce · 15/12/2019 01:18

I have good reason to believe a close family member doesn't have the Dad they think they do. They have a sibling that they think is their full sibling.

It is an open secret between their Mum and the Mum's siblings, although it isn't spoken about.

The man who brought this person up as their own doesn't think he is the Dad and took the split with the Mum very badly. He was planning on doing a DNA test surreptitiously but decided against it.

This family has a lot of secrets that just about everyone seems to know anyway but no one talks about.

I am torn about somehow telling this person that their father isn't who they think it is but, for purely selfish reasons, I am reluctant to do so because it would tear the family apart and I would be made out to the bad one.

AIBU to keep schtum?

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

539 votes. Final results.

You are being unreasonable
You are NOT being unreasonable
DistanceCall · 15/12/2019 08:27

But is this a harmful lie? Is either the bio dad or actual dad a bad person, or manipulating the situation in any way? Is the mum?

Of course it's a harmful lie. All the siblings know, except the person in question. And there may be genetic issues in the future which the person absolutely has a right to know, for themselves or when they decide to have children.

Sindragosan · 15/12/2019 08:28

You would not be unreasonable to do a DNA test yourself and talk about how fascinating you found the results, but anything beyond that would be unreasonable.

IScreamForIceCreams · 15/12/2019 08:30

Keep out of it and btw, most families have skeletons in the cupboard anyway.

pictish · 15/12/2019 08:31

Morally? No, you are under no moral obligation to reveal this secret. No one expects it of you. You are committing no betrayal. You’re not involved.

DeathStare · 15/12/2019 08:31

From the replies I understand that I should keep quiet. Morally it doesn't sit right with me but I understand

But the choice isn't between a big reveal to the child and doing absolutely nothing. Talk to the child's mother. Try to do it calmly. Listen to what her argument is for not telling them. If you still feel the child should know, encourage her to tell them.

Bluntness100 · 15/12/2019 08:34

Perhaps I should've worded it differently, if you knew a close family member's father wasn't who they thought it was would you tell them??

The op doesn't know. The simple fact is if the father considered a dna test then even he doesn't know. So there is no way she does.

That's it. No way round it. She doesn't know.

doublebarrellednurse · 15/12/2019 08:36

If you'd be upset to find out why would you want to be the one to inflict that?

It's between her and her parents not you. Talk to the parents if you're really that worried.

Tombliwho · 15/12/2019 08:40

We have the same situation in our family. The worst thing is that most of us know and she doesn't which I hate. I don't like being party to a secret like that about someone. However, her mum died recently and the secret sort of died with her if you know what I mean. If someone told her now she couldn't even discuss it with her mum. It certainly isn't my secret to tell but I do feel uncomfortable keeping it. You're best to just stay out of it.

ChristmasCroissant · 15/12/2019 08:45

You don't know for certain OP, so that makes it look - to me - as if this is not driven by concern for the child but more about wanting to make the mother look bad. Do you get on with the mother?

Cornettoninja · 15/12/2019 08:47

This isn’t your grenade to throw.

The potential to cause irreparable damage is far too great, especially since no one appears sure that the named father isn’t in fact also the biological one. He decided not to do a DNA test so I presume he is happy to fulfil the role?

What if you go ahead and it turns out he is the biological father? Your family member will then have to deal with the knowledge there was a question over her paternity and her mothers actions, it’s not an easy bit of information to process.

I would say if you enjoy having a close family keep it to yourself because things like this have a habit of causing very deep rifts.

ASandwichNamedKevin · 15/12/2019 09:01

@Pinkarsedfly the issue would not be that the DNA test says what countries your ancestors were from, the issue is that they then send you 'matches' so of any of the biological dad's relatives are on there the recipient may get a message saying we have a x% match, this person is your cousin or uncle or half sibling or whatever.

I have done one of those DNA tests and got notifications when my dad, grandad and cousin did it. I also got notifications about people I'd never heard of but when asking my parents they said it was e.g. my grandma's cousin.

That's a whole lot to take in if you aren't aware and imo would not be a good way to find out.
I do think the person should know but that it should be their mum or dad to talk to them. I know for some ignorance is bliss and it would feel like a huge betrayal.

Dollymixture22 · 15/12/2019 09:07

Do not buy everyone dna testing for Christmas - awful advice. So very cruel.

pictish · 15/12/2019 09:15

If, after reading these responses, you still choose to involve yourself then you might also have to accept that you are indeed the type of person who craves drama.

BrotherlyLove · 15/12/2019 09:19

I know from the results of an Ancestry test that my brother is not my dad's son.
I am keeping quiet, it's stressful but I am not going to be the person who blows my brother's world apart.

Evilspiritgin · 15/12/2019 09:19

As I’ve said before it’s not your place to tell, this is why with a few posters above that you need to tell children the truth as soon as they can understand, the girl whose mum has died and the other who’s aged 24 , if they find out it will blow their worlds apart and the ripples could be felt all over the families especially with nearly everyone knowing and keeping the secret, obviously 20 odd years ago nobody was thinking about dna testing like there is now

To the poster who was wondering why dna testing had been mentioned, it’s not just ethnicity they show , they show your dna matches with people who have already tested

queenrollo · 15/12/2019 09:24

Everyone in my family knew that someone else was my dad, because my mum was with him until I was about 2 years old. There was no doubt about it.
I found out in a pretty awful way when I was 13.
It completely destroyed my relationship with my parents, and to make matters worse they didn't want my (half) sister to find out so I then was made to keep the secret myself. I was 'banned' from asking anyone in my extended family about this man.
My sister found out when she was 20 and only then because I was in contact with my biological family and they were regular visitors to my house - she was coming to live with me for the summer. I forced my mum to tell her before she moved in.
So then it screwed my sister up and the blame for that was laid at MY door.

It's a hideous secret and I am furious with my family for keeping it from me.

This probably doesn't help you make the decision about what to do. But personally I was glad I found out.

SourAndSnippy · 15/12/2019 09:28

OP, I hope you can ignore all the snide posters on this thread. I don't know why so many posters are incapable of disagreeing with an OP without resorting to being nasty.

I'm not sure what I would do if I were you OP but I think I would say nothing. Is it possible to speak to the nieces Mother and suggest she consider saying something. It does sound like the secret might come out in later years. So maybe better sooner rather than later. It's a difficult situation.

Retpark101 · 15/12/2019 09:30

My dad is not my biological father. My bio dad left before I was born and has never ever contacted me. Mum met my non bio dad when I was 9 months old and he has been my true dad ever since. I also have a sister who technically is my half sister but I’ve never thought of her that way, we grew up together with the same parents and just because my dad wasn’t there until I was almost a year, doesn’t make him any less my dad.

My point is OP, I get where you’re coming from in terms of having “the right to know” as I was told from as far back as I can remember that I had a bio dad who was never involved, I would’ve felt a little betrayed had the not told me until I was an adult. However It’s nothing more than a “fact” and it never changed the love I have for my “non bio” dad, your family member will love their dad whether they are biologically related or not. I think we place to much importance on biology in terms of family. If the family member is happy and loves their father then I would have to keep quiet

Dollymixture22 · 15/12/2019 09:32

Queen that is awful. Your biological dad lived with you for two years, then another man pretended to be your biological dad?

Why did your biological dad or his family not intervene

Windygate · 15/12/2019 09:36

@MilleniumForce I have a lot of empathy for the situation you have been forced into. You can't do the right thing because there is no right thing in this case.

Mine is a family that has some very dark secrets that have the potential to cause a great deal of harm. I truly wish I hadn't been burden with the knowledge.

I think you are going to have to keep this to yourself especially as you don't actually know if it's the truth.

Otterseatpuffinsdontthey · 15/12/2019 09:42


MotherofDinosaurs · 15/12/2019 09:47

I don't understand how you think this is any of your business!


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Elphame · 15/12/2019 09:49

This is not your secret to tell.

Keep out of it. There is a similar one in my family which I found out by accident but it would never cross my mind to say anything

Interestedwoman · 15/12/2019 09:49

'I am torn about somehow telling this person that their father isn't who they think it is but, for purely selfish reasons, I am reluctant to do so because it would tear the family apart and I would be made out to the bad one.'

Interesting perspective there. I think you would be telling them for purely selfish reasons of some kind, not considering other's/the person/people concerned's feelings etc. For all you know, the people concerned plan on telling or will tell the individual at some point. It's not your secret to tell.

Fallofrain · 15/12/2019 09:56

I cant believe how many people here are happily suggesting that its better for people not to know their biological heritage.

Research with adopted adults, and donor concieved adults have found (fairly catagorically) this absolutely not to be the case hence why theres a move from concealing history from adopted children.

I totally agree in most cases people view the people who raised them as their parents, but others shouldnt be making the choice that biology doesnt matter for that person.

Its the child's (who i understand is an adult now) biology, health information and relationships and it should always be up to them what they do with that.

Gossiping relatives were always a risk but Unfortunately in the age of increased genetic understanding and testing, (wether thats a cheap kit off the internet or doctors trying to predict your health) this is a bomb waiting to go off

Imagine realising that everyone around you knew something about yourself that you didnt and actively allowed you to be deceived. Of course they are likely to react strongly.

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