Dear Amy: Last year I was “found” by a biological half-sister. She has spent her life looking for her biological father. Her dad turned out to be my dad.
My parents were so in love, raised five kids and had a wonderful marriage. They have both died, and I’m convinced after talking to family members that no one knew about this sister.
I have done everything I can to integrate her into our family. However, I didn’t ask her into my life. I would be happier if I never knew about her!
I feel good about all I’ve done for her, and I would never tell her, but I am so angry!
This truly rocked my world. My dad was my hero, and she knocked him off my pedestal! Not fair!
She is a wonderful woman, (completely opposite of my sister I never got along with), but I am having an internal fight to accept this person into my head as my sister.
And I don’t know how to get over my resentment of this intrusion into my life.
I want my perfect dad back! —Upset Daughter
Dear Upset: I have yet to encounter a perfect person, or a perfect parent. And yet it is every parent’s dream to remain perfect in the eyes of their children.
I wonder if you have avenues yet to explore that might provide answers. (For instance, was your father ever a sperm donor?)
If your father had a one-night stand, or even if he was unfaithful to your mother (secretly, or with her knowledge), does this diminish the love they felt for each other — and for you and your siblings?
Does knowing your father might have been flawed make him less of a father to you? Your parents chose to be — and stay — together. That’s a good thing.
This woman’s sudden presence in your life has rocked you, and you have behaved generously and admirably (what a credit to your parents!). But I hope you don’t feel forced to have a relationship you aren’t ready to have. You have every right to take this at your own pace. Talking with a therapist would help you to express, and accept, your “Not fair!” feelings.
Dear Amy: My granddaughter, who is 13, told me during a recent visit that if she got into an advanced placement math class at her school she would receive $200 from her parents.
During the school year, she has been given $20 for every ‘A’ grade.
I find this approach over the top. What kind of message does this send to my granddaughter? What should I say about this? —Upset Gram
Dear Gram: Many parents find ways to incentivize their children to do well in school. Other parents provide negative incentives — they hold high expectations and then punish their children or take away privileges if they don’t meet these standards.
As she starts the school year, your granddaughter knows exactly what the potential rewards are for her to excel in school.
Issues arise when kids start to negotiate about these rewards: “Well, you seem to love this A more than I do, and so maybe you should pay me $30 for it.” And how much money might high SAT scores, or A’s in college, cost these parents?
I recently read the obituary for a poet whose father offered her $100 (as a young child) to read “War and Peace.” The child declined. But in offering the reward, her father was demonstrating how much he valued this literary experience. And the child did in fact, eventually adopt these values — growing up to become a celebrated poet.
Your granddaughter can also decline her prize, or simply choose to follow whatever path she wants, regardless of the money attached.
As is the case with many aspects of the parenting experience, unless you see this as endangering your granddaughter, you should keep your opinion to yourself.
Dear Amy: In a recent column, you wrote about two couples, not married I presume, that referred to their significant other as a “partner.”
Relationships and having kids isn’t a business. This term is just a new way to be hip and it lacks responsibility.
I was surprised at your lack of comment. —Mike
Dear Mike: Surely, this is the first time I’ve been accused of being “hip.”
I’m not sure what you would suggest as a way to refer to unmarried parents. Many couples refer to themselves this way (“Worried New Mother” did), and in the absence of alternatives, I’m fine with it, too.