Dear Annie: Should I keep a family secret, or not?
Dear Annie: My cousin “Jake” married our mutual friend “Barb” more than 20 years ago. He cheated on her often during the first 10 years of their marriage. I knew, and so did a few other people in the family. But I couldn’t tell her because I would have been ostracized from my family members for, in their eyes, going behind Jake’s back.
Jake and Barb are now divorcing for other reasons, including his alcoholism and abusive behavior. She has heard rumors about his past cheating and thinks it would help her divorce case. Should I confirm it for her? Or would that turn her against me for not telling her 20 years ago? My mom went through something similar with my father a few years ago. The anger and hurt my mom and I experienced over that has made me more sympathetic to Barb, and I’m no longer worried about being loyal to Jake. — I Hate Cheaters and Family Secrets
Dear I Hate Cheaters and Family Secrets: I would encourage her to speak with her attorney about whether or not she could actually use her husband’s infidelity as support for her case. She’d most likely need evidence, such as a photograph or email exchange, and because this was over 10 years ago, that might pose a challenge for her.
Even if she can’t use it in her case, if she’s directly asked you about his infidelity, you have a moral imperative to tell her the truth. She may be angry that you didn’t tell her sooner, but fear isn’t a good excuse to continue lying.
Be sure that any disclosure you make comes from a place of love, not vengeance. That means your motivation should be to help Barb, not hurt Jake, your dad or cheaters in general.
Dear Annie: I wish you had directly addressed the issue of home schooling in your response to “The Other Grandmother,” who was upset her grandson was being taken out of home schooling and sent to a school in New York.
I was pressured highly by my family to home-school my son. I knew I would be a bad fit, but I gave in to the pressure. I was correct in my assessment, and my son and I had a terrible year. It wasn’t that I disagreed with home schooling. But I go to great lengths to give my children what is best for them, and I just knew I was not capable of giving them the best education. I’m not saying that is the reason the parents took “The Other Grandmother’s” grandson out of home schooling, but it could be. The letter didn’t really give a reason.
Also, home-schooling kids with difficult behavioral problems is very tricky. It may very well be that these parents are not equipped to help their son. If they’re having problems disciplining him at home, what makes this grandmother think home-schooling him could make that better? It very well might make the matter much worse. I think the parents could highly benefit from taking this year and working hard to figure out what they could do to improve, as well as hope their child gets the help he needs. — Been There
Dear Been There: Thank you for sharing your experience. The decision of whether to home-school children is indeed a highly personal one. I encourage parents to think long and hard about what’s best for their children and to resist peer pressure from friends or relatives either way. Every family is unique.
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