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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
MilleniumForce · 15/12/2019 10:41

I will keep quiet. Having been brought up in a family with lots of secrets and how the truth affected me when it came out my perception is skewed on what is the best thing to do in this situation.

Based on my experiences I believe the truth will come out in some form one day.

OP posts:
BellaVida · 15/12/2019 10:45

So you know that this person's father is definitely not their real father? Is the person an adult or a child? What are their circumstances? I ask because I think that everyone has a right to know who they are. I'm going to go against the majority and say that if it is an adult, they would want to know. They may have their own suspicions or have heard some family gossip, but not have the courage or enough knowledge to find out the truth for themselves. Obviously, it it's a child, then it really wouldn't be your place to say anything.

Cornettoninja · 15/12/2019 10:46

@Fallofrain, it’s not something I would claim any kind of expertise in, amateur or otherwise, but I concluded the shift in culture to tell children the truth regarding their parentage came about precisely because it was so traumatic and damaging to find out in adulthood?

I stand by my gut reaction that this isn’t her secret to tell. There doesn’t appear to be any certainty that her father isn’t biological so it’s simply a suspicion that could devastate at least three peoples lives completely needlessly.

Bluntness100 · 15/12/2019 10:46

I think you would be telling them for purely selfish reasons of some kind

I agree. Telling them or not telling them, both have something selfish behind it.

As said, if the father considered a dna test, then this states categorically he thinks he may potentially be the father. No way round that fact. As such, 100 percent the op doesn't know either way. If he simply couldn't be the father, either because of infertility or they weren't sleeping together, he'd not have considered a dna test.

So the op is considering blowing someone's life apart over nothing more than family gossip. And no one does that for altruistic reasons. It's always due to something much less pleasant. To say the least.

Op you clearly want to do it. But you're hesitant because uou know the repercussions, and don't want to get it in the neck. I'd sit and quietly reflect on what's driving you to want to do this to this person and behave this way, which as you don't know, could be considered highly malicious.

EC22 · 15/12/2019 10:48

Leave them alone.

Bluntness100 · 15/12/2019 10:49

Based on my experiences I believe the truth will come out in some form one day.

It may already be out. It may be a dna test was done and people don't know and he is the father, or the person knows that potentially his mother had an affair.

It sounds like you really want it to be true and for it to come out. Again I'd consider your motivation here.

Gwenhwyfar · 15/12/2019 10:50

"My papa isn't my biological father. But he is MY FATHER."

I don't get the relevance of DNA unless you may have an inherited disease.
If I found out I'd been switched at birth, my parents would still be my parents.

Gwenhwyfar · 15/12/2019 10:53

"As said, if the father considered a dna test, then this states categorically he thinks he may potentially be the father."

Yes, but also that he could be.
I know of a family where everyone except the son, still a child, knows the 'father' is not the father for the simple fact that the step-father wasn't even around at the time of conception. Doesn't seem to be as clear cut here.

Mucky1 · 15/12/2019 10:59

My mum found out when her own mum was dying that her dad wasn't her bio father but in fact her step dad was. Lots of things clicked into place for her at that point and she was heart broken. My mum was also sure on reflection that her much loved dad knew about it and she was sad about that, Mums Dad loved her as his own and the same as his other 5 children and if she hadn't been told would never have known. It's caused her so much headache I wish my grandma had never told her what was the point really except to ease her own guilt! My mum is still upset and feels everyone knew except her and still feels resentment for this. Just leave well enough alone

ohwheniknow · 15/12/2019 11:03

You suspect, you don't know.

I think you're seeing what happened to you in this situation and responding as if it was actually you it's happening to again, so that at least part of you is seeing yourself and wanting to act as a way to be the person who didn't protect you from all the hurt and devastation you experienced. You're trying to heal yourself.

beautifulstranger101 · 15/12/2019 11:07

I dont know- this is a very tricky situation. On the one hand, I agree with- stay out of it, its nothing to do with you. On the other hand, if i didnt know my dad wasn't my biological dad and found out half the family knew about and didnt tell me, i'd be absolutely livid and would probably never speak to them again. I dont think this situation will end, well no matter what happens. Its just a case of when rather than if it blows up. Couldn't you talk the the mum and say, look, I know what's going on and I think x has a right to know and see what she says? It would be much more appropriate coming from her, than you.

TARSCOUT · 15/12/2019 11:09

Rather than telling the secret perhaps talk to those holding it first and find out the true information

beautifulstranger101 · 15/12/2019 11:12

If I found out I'd been switched at birth, my parents would still be my parents

Of course they would but biology is also important. If i discovered my child had been switched at birth i wouldn't just brush it off as "eh, I got a child so its all good". I'd absolutely 100% want to find that child and connect with them- its my child! I would still view the original baby as my child too, but there is no way I wouldn't want to meet my biological child and this shows that biology is important. Is it the be all and end all?- of course not. But you can't brush it off as no big deal. It is a big deal to many, many people.

Bluerussian · 15/12/2019 11:13

MilleniumForce Sun 15-Dec-19 10:41:20
I will keep quiet. Having been brought up in a family with lots of secrets and how the truth affected me when it came out my perception is skewed on what is the best thing to do in this situation.

Based on my experiences I believe the truth will come out in some form one day.
Very good post. In this instance I am glad you have decided not to tell - it is a really big issue and not your secret to divulge.

81Byerley · 15/12/2019 11:18

I'd say, unless you are this person's mother or "father", it isn't your job to tell.

MamaJazzHands · 15/12/2019 11:22

I’m in this situation. Member of dhs family is now in thier 50s and still doesn’t know as far as I’m aware. Only me dh and one other person know the truth. We were told years ago by the non bio father but why he disclosed this to only us I don’t know. Non bio father has since died.

I often wondered if that was me would I want to know, and I’m really not sure if I would tbh. Yes person in question has a right to know but not sure it would serve any purpose in telling them now, I should imagine they’d feel betrayed at not being told for so long and there is nobody else that could corroborate this as truth. The mother in question hasn’t been seen since the 1980s and we have no idea if she’s even still alive.
Family dynamics are complicated and confusing to say the least

Of course this would have to come from dh as its not my place. It’s hard to know the right thing to do.

In your situation you don’t know 100% the truth so it’s not really for you to throw the cat amongst the pigeons. Especially as you said it would be purely for selfish reasons. You need to leave it to this persons mother, it’s her responsibility to disclose this if or when she chooses.

SunshineAngel · 15/12/2019 11:34

Sorry, but why the hell is this your business? Who appointed you head detective? You could ruin people's lives for no good reason. Keep it shut, and get your nose out of other people's business.

ExhaustedGrinch · 15/12/2019 11:35

My dad found out in his 40s that who he believed was his father was actually his step father (he'd adopted him when he met my nan). A psychiatrist (of all people) assumed he knew he was adopted and asked how well he got on with his adoptive father!

I only found out because a relative assumed I knew so I had to play along and pretend I was aware so I could fish for more info about my dads bio dad. My dad refused contact with bio dad until a call came saying he was dying. My dad got to meet him twice, they were almost identical in terms of the way they looked, interests and even how they dressed. I only ever got to speak with him on the phone once.

My dad wishes that he'd always known. He ended up with 2 brothers and 7 sisters he never knew of, he's only close with one of the siblings but had he known all along he could have established a strong bond with all them. I have all these aunts, uncles, cousins etc and I feel like an outsider to them, I've only met a handful of them.

Keeping these kind of secrets is cruel IMO and I think you should tell but clearly I'm going against the majority here.

Fruitbatdancer · 15/12/2019 11:40

We all know that my friends daughters dad is actually friends brother in law. She slept with her sisters boyfriend. No one says anything. The sister knows. It’s not for us to say.

WeeDangerousSpike · 15/12/2019 12:04

I found out 3 years ago that I have a older half sister. It completely destroyed me at the time. Selfishly (because half sister has had a shitty time and finding her bio dad has been a good thing for her) I wish she never contacted us and I could just carry on being oblivious. I was so so close to my dad and it has really damaged how I feel about him, although I try not to let him see that. I was also 2weeks from having my DD. Wh up to that point would have been his 1st grandchild. She's actually his 3rd.. That completely devastated me.

Best situation would have been for everyone to have known all along, but we are where we are. I'm not encouraging anything particularly though.

Is the probable bio dad in your relative's life? Or is it a complete stranger? Is the bio dad oblivious too or are they a waster or absent for selfish reasons?

My worry would be if they do find out, is it better to find out in a quiet and gentle way from someone not directly involved, or run the risk of them finding out in a way that makes it all the more traumatic.

Evilspiritgin · 15/12/2019 12:56

It’s things like this means that if anyone on here or partners have donated sperm or eggs

Strangely I had never thought about the egg donation aspect, a few years ago I was reading about someone who was given fertility treatment and she happily donated eggs thinking about another woman who couldn’t have children, I mean you think of them just being eggs and them helping someone hopefully having their own children, at some point though she will have to explain to her children that they might have 3-4 half sisters or brothers that might come knocking on the door saying your my mum.

Thinking of myself as a teenager, that would have absolutely broken my world

paperandfireworks · 15/12/2019 13:32

Mind your own business.


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ElfAndSafeKey · 15/12/2019 13:41

Evilspiritgin is sperm and egg donation not more or less anonymous? I didn't think they revealed who the donor was if it wasn't a private arrangement?

HaileySherman · 15/12/2019 13:45

Why would you even be considering this? Definitely not your place to get involved. I'd 100% say stay out of it.

ElfAndSafeKey · 15/12/2019 13:48

Never mind- just looked it up and there is a database and all can be revealed when donor-conceived person is 18.

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