This article was originally published July 14, 2023, and has since been updated.
A concerned mother is seeking advice on disclosing a delicate truth to her 30-year-old daughter—revealing that her biological father is actually her brother. The woman, who remained anonymous, reached out to The Atlantic’s Dear Therapist column in the search for help to navigate this complex situation. In her heartfelt letter, she shared the background information. Her husband had two children from a previous relationship. She had conceived none before the time that they got married.
Struggling to conceive naturally, the pair sought out an alternative route
The couple shared a strong desire to have a child together. However, due to her husband’s irreversible vasectomy, which could not be reversed, they needed to explore alternative paths. In a letter sent to the publication, the anonymous woman explained that they chose not to use a sperm bank. The couple instead approached her husband’s son to be their donor.
They believed this decision would allow their child to inherit her husband’s genes. Considering the positive aspects of their stepson’s health, personality, and intelligence. Thankfully, he agreed to assist them. Something which could be heavily debated by many, but people sometimes resort to desperate measures when their hearts yearn for something so strongly. And here they are, desperate for advice on what to do next.
Pleading others for advice, the mother wants to tell her daughter the truth
Now that their daughter has reached the age of 30, the mother is faced with the challenging task of revealing the truth to her. This truth entails informing her that her “father” is actually her grandfather. Her “brother” is her biological father. Additionally, her “sister” is her aunt, and her “nephew” is her half-brother.
Understandably, the woman and her husband are filled with anxiety, confusion, and worry. Right as they contemplate how to approach this conversation. It is particularly difficult for the husband. As he wants their daughter to always understand that he will forever be her father.
Read: ‘I married my stepbrother – mom didn’t mind’
In response, qualified psychotherapist and columnist Lori Gottlieb acknowledged that the daughter would have to grapple with two challenging truths
Not only the revelation about her biological father but also the realization that the individuals she has known as her parents have kept this secret from her for three decades. Lori Gottlieb offered advice on the most appropriate way to broach this delicate subject.
The foremost advice given was to present the facts in a straightforward and concise manner, without any unnecessary embellishments. It was emphasized that taking full responsibility for the omission of the truth from the outset is crucial, without resorting to making excuses. During the initial conversation, the mother was advised to minimize her own input and actively listen to her daughter’s thoughts and feelings.
Additionally, it was stressed that the “brother” involved in this situation should also be informed about the forthcoming disclosure. This is important in case he has a family of his own and wishes to share the information with them beforehand, ensuring a considerate approach to all parties involved.
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- “Mom begs for advice on how to tell her 30-year-old daughter that her brother is actually her FATHER.” Daily Mail UK. Raven Saunt. June 30, 2023
- “Dear Therapist: My Daughter’s ‘Brother’ Is Actually Her Father,” The Atlantic. February 27, 2023