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Not protecting mom by keeping the secret

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DEAR ANNIE: When I was younger, my mother revealed to me that I have a half sister as a result of an affair my father had when I was a toddler. I know their marriage was in trouble back then, but it doesn’t excuse his betrayal, not only of Mom, but of me. My father has never spoken to me about "Donna," and until three years ago, he had no contact with her aside from child support payments.

Three years ago, Donna contacted him and asked to meet. The whole thing was very hush-hush, and I only found out later when my mother said it had opened up 20 years of hurt. She didn’t think Donna was aware that my father was married when she was conceived.

A year ago, I made contact with Donna. We’ve met and have exchanged a few e-mails. I have told her everything I know, but I’m not looking for a sibling relationship. Recently she asked if I would mind sending pictures and inquired whether I had told my parents that we are in touch.

I feel a little guilty that I haven’t confided this to Mom, but I’m afraid it will only hurt her. Donna also has asked if my younger sister would like to meet her. Frankly, if that happens, I know my sister will spill the beans to both our parents.

My husband is the only other person who knows I’m e-mailing Donna. Annie, if I keep this secret, I fear it will lead to a blowup in the future if the truth comes out. Donna hasn’t told her mother about our correspondence, either, because the woman had such a negative reaction when Donna contacted Dad to begin with.

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My father has never taken accountability for this. I think he owes it to me to discuss this directly. Should I tell my parents? — Somewhat Sister

DEAR SISTER: Eventually, this information will come out. You are entitled to correspond with whomever you wish, but you won’t protect your mother from the hurt by keeping secrets. Tell both your parents, together, what you have been doing and apologize if it opens old wounds.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.

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