In Other Words: “Should I Tell My In-Laws About My Affair?”

This letter is from a recent Dear Prudence column:

My husband was estranged from his parents for many years. He reached out to them when he was diagnosed with a terminal illness. They didn’t have enough time to discuss and resolve their past, but they were at peace with each other when he died. Now my husband’s parents wish to keep in touch with me and my toddler-age son, as he is the only link they have to their only child. The problem is that my son is not my husband’s biological child. I had an affair, the biological father dumped me upon realizing I was pregnant, and my husband (to cut the complicated story short) decided to raise the baby as his own. He didn’t legally adopt our son—we simply put his name on the birth certificate and that was that—or tell anybody other than our marriage therapist. It was a painful, regretful, and humiliating episode of my life and I do not wish to tell even my own parents. But I feel incredibly guilty whenever my in-laws talk to me about how grateful they are to have a grandchild to remember their son, or make comparisons between my son and my husband when he was at a similar age. I feel like I need to come clean with them before they develop a strong attachment to him. They are already talking about changing their will to include their “grandson.” What should I do?

You can read Prudie’s response here.

What would you say? Should the LW tell the grandparents the truth? Should she tell her son the truth? Tell her son only when his grandparents die? Tell him when he’s old enough to understand but ask him not to tell his grandparents? Should she just keep it a secret forever? This is such a moral dilemma. On one hand, the LW’s husband was her son’s father in every sense but biologically. He was the dad. The grandparents were and are her sons’ true grandparents. They’ve already suffered what must have been a deep and immense loss when their son died. Why bring them more pain by telling them that the boy they believe to be their grandson and the closest link they have to their dead son, a son they only recently made peace with after a long estrangement, is not biologically related to them? But on the other hand, if the boy were to ever learn the truth, which could happen whether the LW wants him to know or not — his biological father is presumably still living and knows about him, after all; maybe one day he’ll demand to know the son he initially wanted nothing to do with — won’t he resent his mother for essentially lying to him all his life? But if she tells him the truth when he’s old enough to understand, how can she possibly expect him to keep the secret from his grandparents?

I think I’d advise the LW to come clean. Tell the grandparents the truth — or at least the truth about their grandson not being their biological descendent. Explain that their son was his father in the most important sense of the word and raised him as his own until the day he died. They don’t need to know about the affair, and they don’t need to know anything about the biological father. It can be as simple as, “This was a decision your son and I made and I’d like to keep the details private, but the important thing is that you know he loved his son very much, regardless of how he was conceived, and if you would like to continue having a relationship with your grandson, we would welcome that.”


  1. Avatar photo theattack says:

    I don’t think she should have to tell the grandparents. If the husband decided that the child was his, then it’s also their grandchild. It would be just like if the LW already had the child and the new dad took him in as his own. Still a grandchild. Nobody needs to know their personal business, and since the conversation never came up while he was still alive, the husband might not have wanted them to know at all. Telling them will only 1) put her sex life up for discussion, 2) alienate the child from someone who loves them, 3) humiliate the husband postmortem, and 4) force the grandparents to grieve even more than they already have. What are the benefits? Relieving this woman’s conscience?

    1. Yep, exactly. The husband is on the birth certificate, so the child is legally his. The husband also introduced the child to his parents as “his son”, which means he clearly thought of him that way. Why would you tell his parents now? Would you have taken it upon yourself to tell his parents while the husband was still alive, even though the husband obviously didn’t want to make it clear?

  2. “It can be as simple as, “This was a decision your son and I made and I’d like to keep the details private, but the important thing is that you know he loved his son very much, regardless of how he was conceived, and if you would like to continue having a relationship with your grandson, we would welcome that.””

    I think that’s great in theory but I don’t think the grandparents would accept an explanation like that in a million years.

    1. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

      I totally agree, Lydia. I think the vagueness that Wendy suggests would only undoubtedly (and deservedly!) lead to more and more questions… How could it not? Meanwhile, what good does it serve ANYBODY that the truth be known now? Seriously… Coming clean will (supposedly) make the LW feel better, but I doubt it will even succeed in doing that. Instead she’ll just wish she’d kept her big mouth shut. Seriously questionable advice here, Wendy. I must say I strongly disagree.

      1. I agree.. It is not only her secret, it’s her late husband’s and her son’s as well. And since she cannot know their opinion on the subject, she should just let it be. The biological father has no legal rights towards the child unless she decided to include him in her life.

  3. Having some experience with this (my oldest two sons do not know their fathers, for different reasons, and my 2nd husband acts as their father) I think it really depends on the grandparents.
    If the grandparents are the vindictive types who will spread the “gossip” around the extended family, then no, they shouldn’t be told. If they can be trusted to keep it to themselves, then sure. If she does say something, she does run the very real possibility of the grandparents withholding monetary gifts/inheritances from him because he’s not theirs biologically.

    My 2nd ex-inlaws are like this. They treat their biological grandson like a prince and hardly ever mention his brothers. When we would all go somewhere (while my ex and I were still together), she would brag about how her son financially supports ALL of us, even the kids that aren’t his. In front of the boys. I purposely corrected her in public a few times by saying that he HELPS support the FAMILY and if she really wants to split hairs, I make more than he does and still do all of the household management. Her son didn’t feel any different towards my older boys as he did his own son, so it was a moot point to inform everyone and anyone about the situation. Her friends/co-workers thought I was right, but she was pissy about it.

    1. i hate that biological/not biological mindset grandparents can have. my boyfriend’s brother is having his first child any day now, but he also married into a woman with a daughter who is four. i am terrified that the older sister is not gong to be treated the same way by my boyfriends family. for whatever reason i just feel like that isn’t beneath them to do.. and then i was talking with my friend about it, and her husbands parents did that to her- and she was in the same situation (already had a daughter, then had babies with the new husband). im worried.

      1. GatorGirl says:

        Obviously it depends on the family but I’ve been treated the same as my technically half siblings grandparents my whole life. So my step grandparents treat me the same as they treat my “half siblings” (I use half siblings loosely because I don’t consider them that at all). I did take on my step-families lastname and do not have a relationship with my birth father but I think they would act the same anyways. If anyone asks your opinion I would tell your BF’s brother to stand up to the parents (if they are treating the kids differently)- if your BFs brother is raising the 4 yr old as his own child then the grandparents should treat the child as their own.

      2. im glad that it can work out. i mean the grandma does treat the four year old very well, she has since she was in the picture, but there is just so much doting and oohing and ahhing over the coming baby im just scared she will get left behind somehow.. like half how older siblings always take a back burner when a baby comes, and half the fact that its “jesse’s first biological child” and everything. i dunno. i just worry.

      3. GatorGirl says:

        I think you’re totally in the right to worry. Maybe you could do something special for the 4 yr old when the new baby is born? Like an ice cream date/movie night/sleep over or something. It’s really hard when new siblings come into the picture (I was 8 when my first sibling was born) but it helped a ton to have an aunt who made sure to go out of her way to make me feel special.

      4. i will when i see them! we dont live near, unfortunately. but we are planning a trip to see the baby at some point.

        i do wish i was there to be a cool aunt. i wanna be a cool aunt.

        the good thing i know will happen is that i have told my boyfriend about this, he kind of is worried as well, but he has assured me that he will not treat them any different and that olivia is his neice no matter what. so, she has somebody in her corner atleast.

      5. GatorGirl says:

        you can be a cool aunt from a far! send little (inexpensive) things in the mail like a cool card with stickers or a new set of markers etc! It’s so easy to make kids feel special! IDK if you Skype or FaceTime but kids love to do that!

      6. artsygirl says:

        My sister is in a similar situation. She had two daughters from her first marriage and just a few weeks ago had a daughter with her second husband. Her husband and his parents are over the moon about the new baby and are very good with the middle child, who is only 1, but I always worry about the eldest. She was a toddler when the new husband came into her life and I think he and his parents are a bit rough on her. They don’t mistreat her, but when you have two young children who are his (one biologically and one that he helped raise from a very young infant) I sometimes feel the eldest gets shuffled to the side or is expected to be the ‘big girl’ despite the fact that she is just 4. I try to the fun aunt and make sure I have small treats for her whenever I see her.

      7. Me too Gatorgirl. My dad adopted 4 of us when I was 10 and we have been treated as nothing less than family. His family was very welcoming and we got the same little 100$ cheque in the mail at Christmas as all the other grandkids.

        It really depends on the family. That being said I wouldn’t say anything. Let sleeping dogs lie

      8. My FIL treats one of his non bio grandsons better then he treats his 2 bio granddaughters (my girls). He´s such an asshole.

      9. You make good points, but why isn’t anyone considering what the grandparents would want? I believe it’s too much big of a deal to be kept as a secret. Their child is dead and it is not their responsibility to support financially someone else’s child/grandchild. I think it’s only fair for them to make a decision based on truth. Lies and deceivement are wrong NO MATTER the circumstances! Don’t promote it as being a good thing. Plus the child needs to know the truth as well, and when he will find out and also find out that his mother lied to his grandparents for some sort of inheritance, unless he grows up a liar, he would probably think less of his mother.

  4. I don’t think she should feel obligated to tell them, and I really don’t think it’s the grandparents business. Some things are between a husband and wife, especially considering their son didn’t tell them when he was living. Would they go out of their way to tell the grandparents if they had used a sperm donor? I do realize that it would be really awkward if they found out later on, and as unlikely as it would be (to me) that the child would be babbling about it enough that his grandparents would hear, you can’t tell a kid to hide that information without them feeling bad about themselves.

    However, if she does tell, I don’t think she should frame it in terms of “He’s not your REAL grandson,” which is what she seems to be wanting to do. It’s cruel for her to be trying to push her son’s grandparents away from him, considering he’s already lost his father. Plenty of grandparents dote on step-grandchildren or adoptive children, and I don’t see how this is different.

    1. plenty of GOOD grandparents dote on step-grandchildren and adoptive children.

  5. lemongrass says:

    I think the son has a right to know his biological roots. I don’t think the grandparents do. I don’t think that anything but harm would come from telling the grandparents- they may take it wonderfully but considering their son was estranged from them I have a hunch they wouldn’t take it well. I think that she should tell her son when he is old enough and mature enough to handle the information. If that is 13, 16, 19 or whenever he should have a firm understanding that his father was his father and the other man was a sperm donor.

    1. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

      Yeah, how nice for him. Hey, son, I banged this guy who turned out to be total asshole who bailed on me when I got knocked up… Of course, I was married at the time… but yeah! You were so, so wanted… That’s a great bit of info to digest.

      1. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Yeah, I think it’s better left for when the son is an adult. Like early to mid twenties adult, so as soon as he’s able to process it without doing himself any harm. Revealing that to a teenager would probably just cause rebellion, hatred, and self-destruction.

      2. lemongrass says:

        I don’t think he needs all the gory details. But yes, older is probably better. I stand by that he should know though.

      3. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Totally agree. But he needs to know at a time that is fair to him, and not harmful.

      4. SpaceySteph says:

        I agree. Similar although definitely not the same…
        My mom was adopted as a baby. They didn’t tell my siblings or I until we were 13. Each of us got told soon after our 13th birthday and then told us not to tell the others. My mom didn’t want us to think differently of our grandparents, like they weren’t our “real” grandparents, until we were old enough to understand.

        I think I’d wait until this kid was even older than 13 since finding out your grandparents are not your biological grandparents is way less intense than finding out your dead father is not your biological father, but at some point he SHOULD know.

      5. But dont you think most of the harm would come from his mother having lied to him for twenty plus years? I know if my mother dropped something like that on me NOW, when I have an identity I have forged on my own, based on what I have learned about myself, I would be lost. I’d rather know growing up, so my self-identity could evolve naturally along with it.
        There are never any good stories about parents who lie to their children about such important things. Never.

      6. I wouldn’t necessarily want it to define my self-identity, so I’d prefer to find out later. Also, I don’t think the point is that she should lie about it to lie. But children don’t understand how relationships work, and telling them your mom slept with another man is going to be way over their head.

  6. So much depends on what kinds of conversations she had with her Husband. It’s why it’s so important to talk about things even when they are uncomfortable! If they were choosing to pretend like the bio father didn’t exist then I would stick with that plan. Otherwise I’m not sure either is a great option. You run the risk of hurting someone no matter what. I would also be interested in knowing the ages of the Grandparents. Honestly, if they are up in there age I would almost go the route of not telling. It’s possible the child would not be old enough to be sat down and have this explained to him until they had already passed. Or there is the chance that she and her husband decided not to ever tell the child! In which case how would she explain to her son why Grandma and Grandpa no longer wanted a relationship with him if she were to tell them? Awful situation to be in.

  7. Wendy, I love that you’re posting Dear Prudence stuff! Anyway, I seriously don’t know about this one– it seems like she’s already in too deep to come clean, so if she does, it should be soon. It makes me sort of uncomfortable that the grandparents are putting so much weight on the child being “a reminder” of their son. Obviously they are thinking in biological terms, so I can’t imagine they’d take the news well, even though their son was the father in every other sense of the word.

    Also, yeah…the father & the vibrator thing? I seriously hope his demonstration did not physically involve the daughter at all. Wtf.

  8. temperance says:

    I don’t think she should tell them. My feelings about this are for several reasons, but most significantly, because of the rift between them and because he didn’t tell prior to his death.

  9. I don’t think she should tell. There’s no good reason to. This child brings joy to the grandparents and lets them feel connected to their son. I don’t see any reason to burst that bubble.

  10. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

    Sometimes coming clean only makes everybody else feel dirty. I say — Zip it!

    1. Sometimes coming clean only makes everybody else feel dirty.

      Can I get that on a t-shirt and a couple of bumper stickers, please?
      Thanks 😉

      1. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        I’m trademarking it, thanks. Coming soon — Bittergay Mark Sayz T-shirts…

      2. Awesome. A must have 🙂

  11. Assuming that the LW story is the whole truth, the boy’s biological father had a chance and rejected the role. Since her late husband’s name is on the BC, the biological father is going to have limited avenues to argue for paternity. She shouldn’t tell the grandparents anything. Simply accept that her late husband was stupid enough to be willing to raise some other man’s kid and move on.

    Now, if she had not told the biological father about the child, it would be a different story. He would have a right to know he was a father and step up and take responsibility for it.

    1. GatorGirl says:

      Can I take my like back? I glazed over this sentence

      “accept that her late husband was stupid enough to be willing to raise some other man’s kid and move on”

      What?? LW admitted she made a mistake (cheating) and her late husband forgave her! I can’t even formulate a sentence because your statement angred me so much. I was raised by a step father who treated me as his own (which admittedly is skewing my stance) but parents raise children that don’t share their dna every single day.

    2. Raising someone else’s kid doesn’t make you stupid. People who adopt children are raising someone else’s biological child. Your comment is really rude. Hopefully you and your future wife/husband have no problem conceiving or one of you is going to have to be “stupid enough to raise someone else’s kid”!

  12. Umm did anyone else read the one about the father who thinks he might have taken things too far?

    1. i just did. creepy. super creepy. i hope the demonstration was not what i’m thinking!

      1. Yeah this is such a disturbing thing. If this was really an important way to teach the daughter why didn’t the mother come forward with this stuff? This guy sounds like he is going to start doing some bad things to her.

      2. yeah he needs to sit down and really think about what kind of lines he needs to create and not cross in the relationship with his daughter!

      3. SpaceySteph says:

        I can’t imagine that it was really what Prudie thinks it was. Why would he tell people that?

        But also, I just reread that letter and it says “My wife and I…” which makes me wonder if she’s not the girl’s mother. Maybe it’s a step-mom and they thought the daughter would feel more comfortable hearing it from her father than his new wife?

        My father is an OB/Gyn (not mine, relax) so when I was younger if I had “down there” questions my mother would always refer me to him. He is an expert. And although he never handed me a vibrator, he did send me to his partner to go on the pill at 17 and did give me a bag of condoms when he heard (after I told him, because I felt I could be honest with him) that I had lost my virginity.

        He also taught us all how to use condoms, so I’m not sure it’s really any different. He didn’t do it with an actual penis and I’m sure the dad in the letter didn’t do this with an actual vagina.

      4. i think it’s fine that the father did this. it’s great in fact, a lot of Dad’s aren’t comfortable with it. and i think teaching condom use is very important. as is creating an environment in which your teen feels safe and comfortable about talking about sex.

        the Dad in this situation feels he overstepped. maybe he feels that way because of how the daughter reacted. maybe she’s fine talking about sex and wasn’t ready for her father to show her how to use a vibrator. even if it was just turning it on.

        maybe for her it was too much. it’s sad that you didn’t feel comfortable asking anyone about the vibrator. we should encourage children to be comfortable to talk about it and we should be the ones to open the conversation up about sex toys. but, i don’t think we should be demonstrating the use without taking cues from them. at 16 i would have been mortified if my parents had given me a vibrator. i was not interested in one and probably would have felt very uncomfortable not only during the conversation but after as well.

        and unfortunately you can create the most open welcoming environment and your own kids may not appreciate it. i had a friend whose parents were awesome, i talked to her Mom about sex because I felt open and safe about it (not that I didn’t at home but I just didn’t want to talk about some parts with my Mom). Her own kid went to an Aunt, I didn’t understand why she didn’t want to talk to her Mom when she was so cool about it. But, each child is different. There are certain parts of sex you can make your child feel comfortable talking to you about but I don’t think they should be pushed (like sex toys).

    2. lemongrass says:

      I dearly hope that letter was a fake.

      1. anonymous says:

        I was convinced it had to be a fake. I mean, really? No way that could have been a real person. No WAY.

      2. Me too! I also wish that it was a letter to DW, so he could see all of our comments afterwards, and maybe get a follow up to clear up some things.

      3. lemongrass says:

        Yes! I find slate comments far to irritating to read and I don’t think that they have the same kind of community over there. I do read prudies letters every week though.

    3. GatorGirl says:

      Holy hell. What???? Perhaps Dear Purdence should alert the authorities. Even if it was in good intentions it sound like the family has some serious issues. Ugh. I’m so grossed out right now.

      1. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Depending on what state she lives in, she may have a legal obligation to report it. Here in Tennessee, any adult who is aware of child abuse is legally required to report it, and when the investigation eventually comes up, you might find yourself in a heap of trouble for knowing and not reporting.

      2. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Which is also a good reason for giving your name while reporting instead of remaining anonymous.

      3. GatorGirl says:

        I totally agree. Even if she isn’t legally obligated I feel like morally she is. If he wrote in a letter she at least has to have an e-mail address! My skin is crawling. (I mean seriously the mom couldn’t have even done the HIGHLY inappropriate demonstration? That would have at least been closer with in the lines of acceptable. Maybe.)

      4. Avatar photo theattack says:

        There’s plenty of same sex parent-child sexual abuse too though. Child Protective Services wouldn’t see a difference at all. Even if he didn’t touch her though, I think it’s questionable and inappropriate to buy her a sex toy at all. They’re really walking a thin line here. At most they should have given her money to go pick one out herself.

      5. GatorGirl says:

        I totally agree. In my opinion there is a very clear line of education your child on sex/a healthy sex life and abuse. And I totally agree that same gender sex abuse is all too plenty. I guess I was thinking along the lines of like a tampon demonstration coming from a mom? Still not right (in my book) but way more acceptable then from dad?

        Do 16 year olds have vibrators? Like is that a thing?

      6. Avatar photo theattack says:

        My mom taught me how to use a tampon with her fingers (ie: pushing the tampon up between her two fingers). I just think that as soon as puberty hits, there’s no reason for parents to see or touch their children in those areas.

        I think some 16 year olds have vibrators, but someone would have to buy it for them. I always get carded walking into a sex shop. But that’s probably because I’m very young-looking. Today I was getting my nails done when a high school girl started talking to me about how much I was going to love high school when I got older…

      7. GatorGirl says:

        My mom just handed my a box of tampons and said good luck. It was not a great experience.

        I’m extremely young looking too. Like 8 or 10 years younger than I am. I get carded at rated R movies way too often. Did you just laugh at the high school girl?

      8. Avatar photo theattack says:

        I laughed at first and then told her that I graduated high school when she was just a kid. Then she laughed about it and gave the standard “Oh, you’ll be so grateful for how young you look when you get older!” She was probably embarrassed, so I didn’t make a big deal about it.

        Do people at least believe your ID when you give it to them? People eyeball mine really closely, even if I’m with my parents.

      9. GatorGirl says:

        Sometimes when I’m alone they do (usually when I’m buying cheap wine). When I’m with my bearded and manly fiance I’m usually in the clear. My mom still gets carded too so she is no help!

    4. I didn’t really assume that he meant he demonstrated ON HER, as Prudie did. That would obviously be disturbing. But I took it to mean he handed it to her and said, “Women use them in this way, etc.” That would still be awkward, but not as terrible.

      1. exactly.

        i really didnt think that was a big deal… it read to me like a dad who was trying to be very real, honest and open about the world (and everything in the world) and now he is worried he is explaining too much..

        come on, he didnt demo the vibrator ON HER! are you people serious in thinking that he did that and then wrote to an advice column about it?

        personally, i think its a good thing what he did. people need to be honest and open about sex and biology and reproduction and everything it entails. i think he is a good parent.

      2. explaining how sex works and buying your daughter a vibrator and teaching her how to use it are two different things. he could have talked to her about masturbation without buying a toy and it wouldn’t have been creepy. just the idea that he would turn it on and explain to her what to do with it is crossing a line to me. and honestly, i can’t imagine being 16 and sitting through that. i would have stopped him and said no thanks.

      3. honestly, i see no difference between buying her condoms, tampons, or a vibrator.

        we are supposed to be turning into a society that accepts open talks about sex. that teaches sex education that actually works and is accurate. i feel like calling this guy a pervert is just putting us back farther and farther in terms of being open and honest about sex.

      4. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Tampons are basically another grocery item. Condoms are a sex item, but they’re obviously meant for protection and being safe. Vibrators though. That’s specifically meant for pleasure. The dad is handing a sexual pleasure stick over to his daughter. That’s beyond weird to me.

      5. i dunno, no different then the sterotypical dad handing over a box of condoms and saying, have fun son.

      6. Avatar photo theattack says:

        I think it’s very different. What if the dad handed the son a Fleshlight?

      7. Actually, you can get vibrators pretty easily now that Trojan makes them and advertises openly about what they are and what they’re for. They’re right there with the condoms. And if not, you can just get a “personal massager” from Walgreen’s.

      8. i guess i don’t see how buying your 16 year old daughter is the same thing as creating a society that feels open to talks about sex. it was obvious from the letter than the father chose to buy her a vibrator without the daughter requesting one. now if the daughter had asked her parents to buy her a vibrator i think that would have been different. honestly though, i think that at 16 you can read directions and he could have left it at if you have any questions you always know you can ask me.

      9. buying your 16 year old daughter a vibrator, that sentence definitely looks very wrong the way it is right now.

      10. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Honestly, I would NEVER use a vibrator that my dad touched. That experience alone would probably ruin vibrators for me for several years. Even using her own hands would be disturbing since her dad taught her how to pleasure herself. To me it would mentally be like the dad doing it himself every time I did it.

        One of the best things about being a teenager is growing and learning about yourself sexually. Some people figure it all out on their own, and sometimes a boyfriend helps that process along. That’s a special experience that should be in her own hands, not her dad’s! Even if what he did was appropriate (and I’m not saying I think it was), he still ruined something special for her by getting involved.

      11. well, that is exactly what is letter was asking about…

        and anyway, im not thinking that the dad was like, and then you rub here, and that feels good.. try it.. youll like it.. all creepy. THAT would be creepy. i am thinking that he handed her it, explained about a woman’s body and the different ways orgasm is acheived, how the nerve endings work, ect, and that was it.

      12. there are so many women who didnt even have orgasms til their 30’s because they had no idea how their own body worked. for so, so long no one talked about these kinds of things. when i was born, my grandmother called my mom and asked her if i was here yet. my mom told my grandma that her mucus plug had come out, so i would be here soon.. and my grandma didnt even know what that is! not too long ago women were allowed to talk about their own bodies. the lady who started planned parenthood was arrested on obsenity charges when she opened her first clinic because it was literally illegal to be talking about reproduction.

        i just feel like sex talks are not bad. in any capacity. and- these are parents who had been open and honest with this girl before about drinking, so im sure this came as no surprise to her. she is used to her parents being honest.

      13. Avatar photo theattack says:

        But childbirth is reproduction. That’s extremely different than talks about sexual pleasure.

      14. i think answering your teenager’s questions in an open and safe environment is different than what this father did. the daughter (at least from how the letter reads) did not ask for a vibrator. the father chose to do that on his own. if she had asked him it would have been different although like i said above the demonstrating was unnecessary. she’s 16, she can read. now if she came back with answers, yes by all means answer them. but, it should be on the teenagers terms that those questions are asked and answered.

      15. temperance says:

        Seriously, all I thought when I saw that letter the first time was that creepo dad should have just bought her a freaking book and let her read it instead of discussing this crap with her.

      16. Avatar photo theattack says:

        That’s close to the same thing to me. If my dad explained to me how women achieve orgasms, it would still ruin it for me. I don’t know. Sex education is great, but I think parents should be there for the talks about how reproduction works, how to make good decisions, and the risks involved. They shouldn’t be involved at all in telling you how to receive or give sexual pleasure. Teenagers can and should learn that on their own. They don’t need a handbook, and there’s so much room for parents to say the wrong thing during that discussion that I think they should just stay out of it.

      17. i think that in a place where nothing is off limits, and sex is not looked at as a gross, icky thing, the giving and recieving of sexual pleasure is all part of the talk though.

      18. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Well then maybe you and I can just chalk it up to having different ideas of what a sex-positive society should look like. I want to foster a place where sex isn’t gross or icky, but it is still very personal, intimate, and special. I think it’s great to be able to talk about it with other people, pleasure and all, but there should still be some major boundaries with family. I don’t want to hear about my parents’ sex life, and likewise I don’t want them involved in mine. I have a theory that aversion and disgust with our family members’ sex lives is an evolutionary adaptation to ward off incest.

      19. I have to chime in and agree with Katie here. Pleasure MUST be part of the sex talk – especially for women. I think it’s a shame that it’s so often missing from the conversation.

        Also, with “abstinence only” education being pushed in all the schools, it really IS up to parents to make sure their kids are getting honest and accurate information. I talk to teenagers about sex all the time and it’s truly SCARY the amount of misinformation they have.

        Truth be told, I would be mortified if my dad bought me a vibrator. But I don’t see anything “wrong” with this situation at all. It’s much better to say, “hey, here’s how you do it and IT’S OK” instead of “OMG YOU’LL GO BLIND!” and inducing shame.

      20. i don’t disagree, but i still think that a vibrator doesn’t need to be purchased and given to the teenager in order for that to happen. and masturbation should definitely be talked about. but, in this case i think the father did too much too soon. if it’s offered and the teenager asks, fine. but, no i don’t think that everyone needs to buy sex toys and demonstrate how to use them in order for their to be a healthy dialogue about sex.

      21. I agree. I absolutely don’t think that this particular scenario “needs” to happen for every girl… I just don’t think it’s wrong either. I think that talking by itself is sufficient. I know most people figure this stuff out on their own eventually, but I personally would rather steer my child in the right direction.

      22. Avatar photo theattack says:

        CatsMeow, I think it’s fine for teenagers to have that talk with SOMEONE. Even if we want society to change to be such a sex positive place, it’s not right now. It will just be gross for them if it’s their parents, adn it might ruin sex for them instead of making it better. I will not talk to my kids about sexual pleasure. I’ll send them to someone like you who they can feel comfortable with. In theory, talking to your kids about it could be good, but in reality, I just don’t think it’s a good idea.

      23. theattack, i just want you to know that you feel that way because of whatever hangups you personally have regarding your parents and sex, or your parents combined with sex. there are plenty of people, right now, who talk with their parents about sex. if you raise your children in an open and honest enviornment, talking with you about sex, and yes, even sexual pleasure, will be comfortable and normal, and ultimately good for them. so please remember that. you create your enviornment, and you create your children’s enviornment, so create them a good one.

        i totally agree with cats- buying a teenage girl a vibrator isnt required in the slightest, but what this father did was not wrong by any means. but i will say that masterbation, vibrators and sexual pleasure -amoung every other aspect of sex- need to be talked about openly and honestly.

      24. Avatar photo theattack says:

        @katie, I just want you to know that you really don’t know anything about my relationship with my parents regarding sex, so it is inappropriate for you to try to assess that my opinions are rooted in personal issues rather than thought. There is nothing bad about a parent-child relationship that doesn’t include conversations about sexual pleasure. I will be creating a good environment for my future children by providing them a loving and safe home, emotional support, etc. Please do not imply that choosing to leave out this part of a relationship is in any way making a home environment bad. That’s absolutely ridiculous. For every woman who grew up sexually oppressed because her parents didn’t tell her about sexual pleasure (seriously? there are other ways to learn this. parents are not the only source of knowledge about sex), there is surely another woman who came out totally fine without the conversation.

      25. eh, i figured you would say something like that.

        no, i have no idea who you are for real, but if someone states that the thought of speaking to their children about sexual pleasure freaks them out, one just has to infer that fear comes from something related to sex, their own parents, or some combination. sorry, but thats just logical.

        and, yes, a conversation about sex without speaking about sexual pleasure is bad, because its not complete. thats like saying the terrible sex ed students in our country gets now is fine, and the students can just figure out all the stuff that is left out on their own. its not ok. its not complete.

        i hope that you dont think im talking about like you and your kid sitting down and being like oh yea and then he did this move and it was amazing. that would be kind of weird. it wouldnt be a bad thing necessarily, but i dont know how i would feel about that… you need to talk to your kids about sexual pleasure in the context of sex feels good and that is ok. masterbation feels good and that is ok. sex should be gratifing to both partners… ect. i would hope that with that kind of relationship with your son or daughter, if something bad ever happened, they could come to you. mom, im having trouble having an orgasm- is there anything that happened to you in your late thirties that made you stop having them? mom, my wife cannot get pregnant. are there any tricks you used? did you ever have problems concieving?

        i mean honestly i have no idea why someone would not want to have an open relationship regarding sex. in the same way that young girls are encouraged to talk to grandmas and aunts when they get their period, we should be encouraging that same kind of talk regarding sex between the generations just for the good of everyones lives.

      26. Avatar photo theattack says:

        I think it’s great for parents to give their kids other resources to learn about this stuff. I just don’t think very many kids want to hear about it directly from their parents. Give them a sex-positive book, take them to Planned Parenthood (or wherever they can get that education). As long as they’re getting it in a positive way, I see absolutely nothing wrong with letting parents and children create boundaries with which they’re comfortable. What if the kid told their parents that they didn’t want to hear them talk about that stuff? Does the parent still have to keep talking knowing that their child is uncomfortable? They shouldn’t.

        There are also other ways to let them know that sex and masturbation are okay without grossing them out. You can teach them that through conversations about relationships or puberty, or making commentary about what their friends are doing, or while teaching them about making good decisions. ie: “Sex is a beautiful thing, but make sure you’re ready before you start.”

      27. the only reason that some kids are not comfortable talking with their parents is because the parents have failed in creating an open enviornment, free of judgement, in which to harbor that curiosity. if children have an opening nurturing enviornment from the very beginning, they will have no problem with it.

        its all about the enviornment you decide to raise your kids in. the one we, as a society, have now is one of judgement. sex is bad, sex is icky, sex is the devil. sex should hurt/be uncomfortable and women especially should not enjoy it (that one was actually in “marriage books” in the 50’s). any woman who has sex is a slut. ect, ect, ect.

        imagine what would happen if you gave your kids a positive enviornment about it.

      28. Avatar photo theattack says:

        It’s not as if parents are the only influence on a kids’ attitude or comfort level. Families don’t exist in vacuums, and kids get the attitudes of discomfort from other places too.

        Either way, that still doesn’t give a reason why parents have to be the ones to discuss it directly instead of just helping their kids navigate it or providing good resources.

      29. i do not believe that there is a situation where “discuss it directly” is a bad parenting move. ever.

        as a parent, you have to be ready to discuss ANYTHING. that is what i believe parenting is.

        and, “give a kid a book” is a failed way to teach them about things, im sorry. it can help, it can supplement, but that is not the way kids should learn stuff. i realize that is the way it works now with the cliche situation of my parents got me a book called my body is changing but that doesnt mean its the way to go.

      30. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Okay, let’s just say that a parent does try to talk to their kids about this despite how uncomfortable the parent is with it. They might be having a direct discussion, but if the parent is nervous or uncomfortable about it, the kid will sense that, and they will still get the vibe that it’s not something easy to talk about freely with their parents. We can’t just make a big change like that in one generation.

        You and I will not reach an agreement on this at all.

      31. so does that mean that every parent uncomfortable with death shouldnt explain it to their kids?

        i said it before, as a parent, you need to be ready to discuss ANYTHING. you are literally the one guiding light (as a unit with your partner if there is one) for a developing human being with thoughts and feelings very easily influenced at young ages.

        if a kid wants to know about death, you have to suck it up and explain it.

        if a kid wants to know about sex, you have to suck it up and explain it.

        and i believe these things NEED to be explain, and so they should be explained even before the child asks. honestly, i think that a person who is not ready to discuss “heavy” or “uncomfortable” topics is not read to be a parent.

      32. Addie Pray says:

        “it’s not as if parents are the only influence on a kids’ attitude or comfort level”

        IT TAKES A VILLAGE! a wise woman once said that. i loved her. i still love her.

        but i like the situation katie describes more – where a child feels comfortable asking his or her parent about things on his or her mind, even if it it’s about sexual pleasure. i never had / still don’t have that kind of relationship with my mom. it would be cool, i think. i think i grew up feeling intimidated about a lot of aspects of sex because of how my family never talked about it and i never felt comfortable asking questions. my 9 year old nephew asked me what “humping” meant. he knew it was sex-related because he was giggling… 9!? still, i was a little envious that he had someone he felt comfortable asking his stupid questions to. … i don’t think i knew what was humping until after someone humped me.

        anyhoo, i love hilary clinton.

      33. @Addie:

      34. and also, i hope that you dont take such a flippant attitude towards your kids with other issues too… “seriously? there are other ways to learn this. parents are not the only source of knowledge” is a little scary to apply to other things… oh, dont worry about right and wrong honey, junior doesnt have to learn that from us. he can figure that out somewhere else…. not that you should only ever learn from you parents, but parents should be the first voice of reason to explain the world and life in general. thats what being a parent is, by definition.

      35. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Wow, That’s an awfully big conclusion to jump to, katie. I’ve clearly only been talking about sex, not anything else here. I’m not even going to defend myself against something so ridiculous and frankly, rude.

      36. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

        Good work Katie. I’m a little late to the party but I want you to know I thumbs up everything you’ve said on this thread.

      37. well, theattack, i honestly wonder what other areas of a child’s development you are ok with only teaching like 60% and leaving it to the kid to figure out the rest themselves… i honestly hope you think about that.

      38. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Thanks for the condescending attitude, but I’ve actually thought plenty about parenting, and I don’t need a random person on the internet to start suggesting that I’ll be a shitty parent when that was never put up for discussion.

      39. theattack, im really not trying to be rude to you, but i find it very interesting that it is OK for you to openly say that you are going to just tell your kid what YOU are comfortable with in regards to sex and let them figure out the rest. maybe give them a book, but not explain it. your admitting that you are going to short your kids sexual education, and that somehow is ok to everyone thumbing you up. that makes no sense to me. if you applied that to literally any other topic, that would not be ok. but because our society is so uptight about sex, somehow that is ok for you to advocate. sex is important! almost every person has it. people break up over it. people get their hearts broken over it. people ruin their life over it. and you are willing to openly just say, nah, ill just go THIS far with it. they can go the rest of the way with someone else.

        that disturbs me, im not gonna lie. it does.

      40. Avatar photo theattack says:

        I’m not admitting that I’m going to short change them on sex ed, because I think if a parent provides enough thorough resources and makes themselves available to answer questions, that is plenty thorough. That’s not short-changing them to me. That’s what our whole discussion is here.

        And yes, sex is different from other topics. It’s sensitive while other things aren’t. Even if you want it to be open in your family, your child will get the idea that it’s a private topic just from living in the world. I don’t see anything wrong with treating sex like the sensitive subject that it is.

      41. in the world i live in, sex isnt a sensitive subject. it is just a normal subject like anything else. is it a biological thing that every creature on this earth does save for a few who reproduce asexually, which still even has the word sex in it. like i said, sex is super important. it influences SO many things and will have an impact on people for their whole lives most likely.

        sex isnt a dirty secret thing. you dont have to treat it like that. that is what you are going to be teaching your kid. your attitude towards it will rub off on them, believe me, because i spent a loooong time washing my father’s attitude about sex off of me. so please trust me when i say that it will matter to your kids. it will matter if you throw books at them and say ask me questions if you have them and never utter the word sex in the house. and its going to matter if you explain sex as a natural normal thing that they are free to enjoy (while being safe of course)

      42. Avatar photo theattack says:

        So you’re forming your opinions off of your bad experience with it then? Well I had a positive experience with my parents handling sex the exact same way I’m planning on handling it. I still came away from it with a good sex positive attitude.

        Also, I never said that I would never utter “sex” in the house. That’s kind of neglecting half of my point here. I think you’re assuming that I don’t want to talk about it with my kids at all and that I have a negative attitude toward sex. None of that is true.

      43. like i said, talking about something directly is never a bad choice.

        im glad it worked well for you, but please know that is a running “bad parent” joke -to give your kids a book about sex- and it might not work. i just think its a good idea to not take the chance and just be a real about it and talk about it.

      44. this reminds me of a lous c k joke.. something like people oppose gay marriage. they say, what would i tell my kids if two men are allowed to get married? ..what? thats your arguement against gay marriage? you just dont want to have to talk to your kids? are they really that shitty to talk to?

      45. Avatar photo theattack says:

        I do know that. See my reply to IWTTS below. But you should also know that your kids will have influences other than you, and they might not want to talk about this with you no matter how hard you try to create a sex-positive environment for them.

      46. Addie Pray says:

        haha, love ck louis. he said “so what two guys who love each other aren’t allowed to get married b/c you don’t want to talk to your fucking ugly kid?!” hahahaha.

      47. thats it, AP! hilarious!!

        i stand by my statement that if you create an open, nurturing, welcoming enviornment from the beginning of a child’s life they will be comfortable coming to you as a parent.

      48. Addie Pray says:

        bullshit, iwanna, there were some katie posts that had zero thumb ups. so i had to give them to her. but in my haste i thumbed up a lot of people, including myself, in full disclosure.

      49. Not necessarily. My parents never really mentioned sex, I never even got a sex talk, but somehow I ended up w/ a very positive view of sex. I think that if a parent projects a “sex is icky” attitude, that can be damaging. But I agree w/ theattack – sex is a very intimate thing, and as long as you’re not doing anything to make your kids think sex is gross, they will learn “the extras” through other source. I mean, there is the internet available.

      50. Oops, I was supposed to copy & paste “sex isnt a dirty secret thing. you dont have to treat it like that. that is what you are going to be teaching your kid. your attitude towards it will rub off on them” at the start of my comment

      51. redlady, i also didnt get a good start on it. i actually believed for a long time that what i was going was “evil” and “disgusting” and everything, but i did manage to get out of that…

        but, on the flip side of us, there are tons of kids who have had very negative things happen to them regarding sex and having no good guidance. think of the teens who have gotten pregnant, believing some myth about birth control, among a lot of other senarios… i personally wouldnt want to take the chance.

        the act of sex is an intimate thing, yes. but i do not believe that the thought and ideas related to sex have to be. i dont think anyone here would say that a parent *should* be privy to all the things their children do in bed, positions, ect… but, i do believe that ideas related to sex in a more broad scale need to be openly discussed. so, like i said before, you dont need to give you kid blowjob tips, but you should teach them that sex feels good, and thats ok. sex happens between people, and thats ok. ect… the broad subject of sex doesnt have to be a intimate secretive thing, and it really shouldnt be.

      52. katie, it sounds like we’re in agreement, then. I just found out that one of my good friends grew up with parents that projected sex as being evil, and I can’t even imagine growing up like that. I know I will do everything I can to ensure that my future kids have a positive view of sex. And if enough of us do that, eventually things will change.

      53. thats exactly what the world needs. i dont think that people understand how far reaching an open relationship with parents -regarding any “tough” subject- really is. and i do think that its more then just telling your kid, you can come to me whenever you want. i think it needs to be something like if you see a girl selling her body on tv or in a movie, you say, wow. that is sad. i wonder how selling sex would feel… and then you and the kid can start a conversation.

        like, you cant just say that you have an open dialogue with kids. you have to HAVE an open dialogue. theres a big difference, i think.

      54. Avatar photo theattack says:

        @katie, Those were the exact sorts of comments that I was suggesting to use instead of directly talking about it.

      55. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        @theattack I’m late to the party but I wanted to say I support your opinion and feel the same. I dont want to get nit-picky regarding all of the comments in this chain- but somethings are better left to a third party discussing (like a health teacher or a well written book) rather than a parent who, in my opinion, could make the conversation very uncomfortable. To me it’s the same as drivers education- some parent’s are comfortable teaching their children all the rules and regulations and tricks to being a great driver and passing your liscensing exam (and that’s what best for some kids) and other parents feel better having a third party do the instruction (and that’s better for some kids). It doesn’t matter where the information is coming from just that the kid is getting the info.

      56. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

        Hey theattack – you know what kids learn when they’re left to their own devices? That anal isn’t sex. And neither are blow jobs. We had an outbreak of them in the movie theaters when I was in middle school.

      57. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Luckily I didn’t suggest that we leave kids to their own devices. Did you read my comments? I said that it’s not necessary for parents to talk about how to give or receive sexual pleasure. It IS necessary for them to talk about what it is, good decision making, risks, etc.

      58. i just dont understand how you think that sexual pleasure isnt a part of that conversation.

        you do understand we dont mean you should give you kid blowjob tips- we are talking about sex-positive things like explaining that sex feels good. things called orgasms happen. masterbation is a safe way to bring yourself to orgasm without a partner. it is ok and healthy to enjoy sex. things like that.

      59. Avatar photo theattack says:

        AND I suggested that parents give their kids other resources besides themselves. Please figure out what my argument is before you tell me that I’m wrong.

      60. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

        You do realize that “give the kid a book and have him talk to his friends” is a running joke of bad parenting right? Like many sitcoms have started with that premise right?

      61. Avatar photo theattack says:

        You do realize that that wasn’t the only thing I suggested, right?

        However, books are very effective for some kids and not at all for others. I gave much more value to the books that I read as a kid than what my parents said because I was a reader and a rebel. It was a good fit for me. Other kids would benefit from other types of resources, like talking to a professional or a favorite aunt. Parents just have to look at their kids and determine what will work best for them. For some of them, that WILL be a conversation with the parents, but I’m not convinced that that is always the best or only solution.

      62. HAHAHAHHA IWTTS–Also, I think katie said it PERFECTLY here: the only reason that some kids are not comfortable talking with their parents is because the parents have failed in creating an open enviornment, free of judgement, in which to harbor that curiosity. if children have an opening nurturing enviornment from the very beginning, they will have no problem with it.

        I’ll admit, my parents were all like, phew, schools teach sex ed. Oh and don’t do it til you’re married. Well…failed on one end mom. And read too many bad cosmo articles as well. I totally intend to talk to my own kids about sex, in a positive, this is good, this is bad, like an Orgasm good-shame bad kinda way.

        Katie-can i also ask for you to be my future kids sex talk godmother. I know you’ll rock at it 🙂

      63. SpaceySteph says:

        I gotta say, I was a little horrified by the first vibrator I got. It was big and purple and had all these buttons and this part went this way and that one went that way and…
        I could have used a little honest communication like “this part goes for the g-spot” and “this part stimulates the clitoris” rather than having to learn that crap from the internet. Also I had been having sex for 6 months and never had an orgasm, so I could have used some guidance about that whole deal too.

        You want your kids to learn this stuff from their slutty friend? Or to go their whole lives without an orgasm? Or to believe a guy who tells lies about sex to get in your pants? I don’t see a problem with it.
        Because I was kinda a late bloomer, 16 seems a little young, but if she started asking questions about sex then it’s not out of line to educate her.

      64. temperance says:

        Yeah seriously, that makes me want to barf. I wouldn’t want my parents to even KNOW that I had a vibrator … much less have them BUY ME ONE.

      65. and i find it stupid to think that the mom should be doing all the “talks”. any dad can be just as open, honest and informative as a mom can be. explaining sex/vibrators/tampons/birds and the bees does not make you a pervert. it makes you a good parent, mom or dad.

      66. personally i would still be bothered by it no matter who was doing the talking. i just don’t think sex toys are appropriate to buy for your teenagers. my mom (single parent so it couldn’t have been my father) explained everything about ‘the birds and the bees’ to me without crossing over that line. and without a sex toy i managed to figure out masturbation all on my own! while it’s good to talk to your teenagers you don’t need to demonstrate it for them.

      67. GatorGirl says:

        Talks yes – demonstrations no.

      68. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        Go Katie go!

      69. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        I’m loving all this discussion. And I tend to agree with Katie. But I don’t think parents should buy their children vibrators and other toys … mostly because I think kids are too damn spoiled already; they should have to please themselves the old fashion way like we all did! … But I think having open discussions with your child – whether you’re the mom or dad – about sex, condoms, vibrators, strip clubs, masterbation, orgasms, sexuality, gay sex, straight sex, weird shit, etc. is all good. Knowledge is power.

      70. ok, this is my last thought:

        if we want to live in a world with open and honest communication about sex, sexual pleasure/vibrators/masturbation has to be a part of that conversation because they are a part of sex. what this dad did was a good thing. he educated his daughter- and he did the same things for drinking and drugs too! this guy is worlds ahead in terms of honesty.

        i find it sad that there are people who think that teaching about sex should be limited to dangers and anatomical words. it should be an all-emcompassing discussion. i hope for all the people reading this, if you have kids, to do that. no matter how uncomfortable or weird it is to you (because the generations before us sucked so hard at talking about anything sex-related). i hope that people in my generation can get over the stigma and be open about sex even with their children. that is not weird, and if i have kids, thats how it’ll go. i sure hope i wont be called a pervert and hoped to have child services called on me for it.

      71. lemongrass says:

        Sure- talk about it! Don’t demonstrate it. You don’t need to demonstrate the dangers of doing heroin to get the point across. There are lines and SHOWING how a vibrator works is crossing it. Telling her what it is and what it is for is not.

      72. Ok, again I will ask- do you honestly think this father demonstrated masterbation on his daughters vagina and then wrote into an advice columnist about that? I can’t believe people are that dumb.

        Are you going to also say that a demo of how a tampon works is perverted? I never got that and put the whole tampon in the first time. Applicator and everything. I would have KILLED for a demonstration.

        I am sad for our next generation after this. You all are just furthering the stereotype that sex is gross and icky and should be secretive and pleasure isn’t involved. Ugh.

        AP is right- knowledge is power. Knowledge about everything. Including apparently scary and gross thing like sexual pleasure

      73. lemongrass says:

        I don’t care how he demonstrated it. If he was waving around a buzzing vibrator in front of his 16 year old daughter that is inappropriate. Using a tampon is a necessary need and while nobody demonstrated that for me the pictured instructions did just fine. I would also say that masturbation is also a necessary need however sex toys are not.

      74. And why would you even need a demo? You turn it on, and move it around ’til it feels good. Is it really that hard to figure out?

      75. Yeah still awkward, and if that is the case I still don’t understand why the mother didn’t do it. Or why he even had to do it at all! She is 16! It seems like he is looking for away to get into his daughters pants, and he knows this is wrong so it creeps himself out.

    5. Oh my god. I was like: you think????

  13. My advice to the LW would be – what would your husband have done if he had lived? What if after he re-connected with his parents a miracle had occurred and he survived? Would he have told them? Or would he have accepted the son as “his” and left it alone beyond that? What if the grandparents wanted to setup a college fund for the grandson – would her husband have let them? I get that the LW may feel a little guilty about the grandparents discussing changing their will, but if they love the boy as their grandson, who is it hurting? Unless they are talking of cutting out other grandchildren in favor of her son, I think she should just accept the love from them and keep the past a secret, it is none of their business. Like others have said, she might make her own guilt feel a little better, but at who’s expense?

  14. tbrucemom says:

    This is such a tough one. I think the son should know when he’s able to understand. The reason being if he finds out on his own he will probably feel betrayed. The biological father can reappear and demand a paternity test, his blood type may show that he couldn’t have come from who he thought was his dad, there may be medical issues that arise and his doctors will need to know about his family’s medical history, etc. It sounds like if the grandparents could be alienated from their own son that they wouldn’t welcome the grandson with open arms if they knew the truth. I’d probably tell them too because I don’t see how once the son knows that it can be kept from them. It would be more hurtful if they found out when the child was older and alienated him too as the child would feel the double whammy of finding out about his dad and his grandparents deserting him. The latter would probably hurt more because at that point he probably wouldn’t even really remember the dad if he’s toddler age now.

    1. temperance says:

      How would he even know his dead father’s blood type? I don’t know my parents’ blood types, honestly.

      1. tbrucemom says:

        Maybe because my family is military and they wore it around their necks, but I know all of my immediate family’s blood types and my children know their father’s blood type because my daughter and her father have a rare one.

  15. I don’t think the LW should tell the grandparents. For all intents and purposes – and most likely legally, as Prudie pointed out – the LW’s son is the late husband’s child. Obviously, he intended to raise the child as his own, and presumably still would be doing so if he had lived, and the grandparents would never have been the wiser. Why change that now? When the LW’s son is older, the LW should tell him the truth. What her son wants to do with that information and who he wants to tell is then up to him.

  16. Regarding the dad and vibrator letter: just typing those two words in the same sentence makes me all cringey and skeeved out. Just. No. Some things should never be associated.

  17. I would absolutely NOT come clean. Right now they have a grandchild that they believe is their son’s. and for intents and purposes, he is. why would anyone take that away from them???

  18. Sue Jones says:

    I don’t think LW should tell the grandparents. The child needs people who love him in his life and you would only cause more pain for the grandparents to find out that their grandson was their grandson in every sense of the word except biologically. It will be difficult enough for that child to grow up without his father, so why make it harder. This is a time when a white lie is useful. And if biodad comes around, tell him to get lost because he already made his decision, and simply stating that he now owes $$$$ in child support should he want to come around and play daddy should be enough to keep him away.

  19. fast eddie says:

    At some future time the child will look less and less like the husband and more like his biological father. If the grandparents aren’t aware of the facts they will be hurt and angry when it come out. With the biological father lingering in the background, trouble is an understatement as to what might happen. Moreover the LW owes it to her son to do the ethical necessity of being honest with him and the rest of the family. It will be dramatic and difficult but most likely it’ll work out in the long run. My wife’s ex fathered a child with his best friends wife. The husband raised it and when he died the bio parents got married. All is good with that. The fact is that a father only contributes one (1) cell to make a baby and lots of couples have wonderful families that adopted or used donated sperm. Don’t underestimate the capacity of the grandparents to love a child without a genetic connection.

    1. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

      Eh, very few of my friends look like their fathers…

    2. the grandparents will see what they want to see. Unless the father was white and the biological father was black, the grandparents are not going to be looking for facial feature differences in their grandchild.

    3. People tend to see what they want to see. Everyone swore that my stepson looked just like me. Everyone insists that my oldest two boys look “just like their daddy!” (my 2nd ex-husband). My oldest looks mostly like my grandpa (we all do), but still has subtle similarities to his half brother. My second son has a few of my features, but really looks like his two older half-brothers fathered by my 1st husband. My 3rd and 4th boys look like their fathers. Clone-alikes really. Other than my chin and subtle features here and there – they are their fathers’ sons.

      Boy, reading that over, it sure does make me sound like a “get-around girl”. *shrug* Oh well.

    4. ele4phant says:

      The child should know, eventually.

      But the in-laws? They already lost one loved one, why take another one from them?

      Whether or not the child was biologically his, their son committed to being this child’s father. He was the father, they are the grandparents. Telling them will only upset them.

      1. temperance says:

        That’s my issue! Disclosing will only hurt them, and assuage her guilt about cheating on a dying dude. Not okay.

    5. Eh, not all kids look quite a bit like their parents. I have two siblings; I look like my dad, my brother looks like my mom, our other brother looks like he’s adopted.

  20. Sue Jones says:

    Bottom line is that if she told the in-laws, she would be doing it for herself. It would not help the grandson at all nor would it be kind to the grandparents. It would be all about her and her guilt. I agree with Prudence here that she should keep mum about it.

  21. She should tell….I think it’s fucked up not to. I can see them writing them into his will…and 10 years later the boys biological father wants to make a connection. While at that point I’m sure the grandparents will have formed a bond with the child that information will totally crush the relationship with his mother and the relationship between the mother and grandparents… Better to come clean now and let them decide how to proceed. You would hope the fact that their son decided to raise him would be enough, but that should be their choice to make.

    1. And I actually got the vibe from the letter that guilt is what was preventing her from telling them. It sounded like to me she didn’t want to tell the grandparents, but thought it might be best in the long run for her kid and the overall relationship between the three of them and maybe eventually her…

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