To tell or not to tell

nancyl_ontOctober 23, 2002

I am a grandparent but my question really involves my brother`s son. My brother is now dead. He was not my father`s son. This seems to have been tacitly acknowledged by everyone except my father and my brother`s son, who is now a mature man with kids of his own. He is carrying the wrong name. His father, my uncle, who had no children of his marriage to my mother`s sister, left all the family heirlooms to my brother in his will. Something which caused smiles and winks all around. Once long ago when my brother met me at the airport I told my aunt I thought it was my uncle standing there, they looked so much alike. She smiled and said "I wouldn`t mind" All these people are gone now. The question is should I tell my nephew about this? I think he has a right to know but then I could be wrong. Incidentally, we all adored my uncle, he was a wonderful man.

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This is a tough decision to make. One advantage is if there are medical problems the person involved might need the informaion. Or if there are inherited diseases like heart, diabetics, etc, this could save his/her life and the lives of their children.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2002 at 6:23PM
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I would not tell. You have to ask yourself what the real benefit would be. Since his parents are in his family line, he already is aware of possible genetic diseases.

My Great Uncle (Grandma's little brother) was the son of Great Grandma and Great Grandpa's brother. Great Grandpa was in an industrial accident and after he was hit in the head by a rubber strap, he was never the same.

My Great Uncle was told who his father was and it broke his heart. He never really felt like part of the family even though everyone loved him dearly.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2002 at 7:40PM
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Why would you bring this sort of secret to his attention? It serves no purpose other than to cause dissension. As Ann Landers used to say, "MYOB." Besides, you don't know for sure who is the father. Don't be a busybody.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2002 at 9:01PM
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Well, Blue I don`t feel at all like a busybody. I juat feel people have a right to know their ancestry. Why do you suppose people of single parent homes go to such lengths to discover their biological fathers and what about genealogical societies? Also theres no problem re dissension since all the participants are now dead. To me there is a falseness about continuing with a deception. Anyway, I think I will simply ask him if he ever noticed the similarity between his dad and his uncle and see what his reaction is. It may very well be that he has and just decided not to stir the pot.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2002 at 9:31PM
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Nancyl - Since you asked us - Unless he asks you first, I truly think you should not interfere. He may or may not already know, but this family secret is not yours to tell. You may not feel like a busybody, but that's exactly what you will be if you ask him about similarities between his Dad and Uncle. It doesn't even sound like you have good intentions - it sounds like you want to spill the beans and are coming up with reasons to make it ok.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2002 at 5:46PM
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I don't think you're asking for others' opinions at all. It sounds like you've already made up your mind to tell him, regardless of the outcome.

Add another voice to the 'mind your own business' side. It is unlikely that he would need that for medical issues, as it sounds like he is closely related to his adopted father anyway. I just don't see where this is your story to tell.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2002 at 12:32PM
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OK Thanks. It`s always helpful to get others insights into ones misconceptions.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2002 at 10:59PM
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I understand your dilema. Being the family historian I am privy to many secrets. I solved the problem of telling or not simply. I don't tell but I do mark the "secret" or "story" down on paper and store it in a safe place - the family bible. It solved my problem as I know that when I'm gone the next historian will have the truth and it will be up to them to abide by my wishes and distribute the "stories" to the appropriate family branch elder. I plan to live a long time and by then (I hope) all the directly connected persons will be gone and only descendents will be left.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2002 at 2:04AM
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It doesn't really matter who his father is. You may feel that it is a deception and the truth should be told, but that is just the way that YOU feel. You have no way of knowing how the news may be received by him. He could resent your bringing it out into the open. You could ruin your relationship with him. It's not just who his father is, but also WHAT his mother did.

I say forget it. How would you like to find out that the man that you loved and thought was your father, wasn't? I suspect that you would find it disturbing news.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2002 at 12:07PM
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Your story is misconbobbling. There's so many twists and turns! So let me get this straight. Your mother had an affair with her sister's husband, and they had a child, your brother. I'm going to stay completely out of the "to tell or not to tell" issue and go straight for nosiness.
So, inquiring minds want to know: Did your father and your aunt know? Did your brother know? There's a story here. Do tell!

    Bookmark   November 2, 2002 at 5:02PM
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Yes, Patty, I believe everyone knew except the nephew in question. Like I said my aunt merely smiled and said she wouldn`t mind when I remarked on the resemblance. My father was a quiet, kind man and never treated my youngg brother with anything but affection. Infact, we all adored my young brother. He was my pet, being ten years younger than me. He committed suicide at age 42, 20 years ago. I still cry, missing him. My brother was as close to my uncle as he was to my family. H uncle paid for his private school and named him as his heir (ie, two thirds of his estate) The thing is my father did have a son who had children, although girls. He also had many brothers so the line and the family name goes on but my uncle had no brothers and no other children, so the family name ends. It was a proud, upright family (war medals etc.) and I believe my nephew is the continuation of that line. I also suspect that it was prearranged because my uncle wanted a son. Well, I suppose it doesn`t really matter. We all just go in the end.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2002 at 10:13PM
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Oh - ok, now perhaps I understand. I tried to follow the original post but I agree with nancy347 that it was "misconbobbling" (love that word!). Too many "he's" without clearer definition of who "he" is. So it isn't the nephew's FATHER that is different than what he thinks, it's the nephew's GRANDFATHER who is different than what he thinks - - right? Ok - - so the kid's biological grandfather was actually the brother-in-law of the non-bio-grandfather? I agree with others - - myob. You really do seem to be into this for gossip sake and looking for excuses to tell. Why are you fixated on your aunt commenting that she wouldn't mind if you mentioned the resemblance? Why would you suspect that the affair was prearranged because your uncle wanted a son? Where was the guarantee that it would be a boy???

I do think that you want to tell so were looking for backup from this board. I think you need to stay out of it - - you don't know what discussion has gone on within that family, of which you are no part. Plus, you want to further shake the world of a person who's father (non-bio, but "real" father, none-the-less) committed suicide???

    Bookmark   November 3, 2002 at 9:20AM
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Okay Nancy, I'm ready to give my opinion now. Thanks for replying to my nosiness.
I don't have a problem at all with you relaying to your nephew the information of his heritage. What does strike me as wrong is the fact that once you tell him about this, you seem to expect him to change his (and that of his family) last name!
Yes, your brother was most likely your uncle's child, seeing as they were so similar. But that fact was never formally acknoweledged by your mother, uncle, father, aunt or brother, and all people involved seemingly wanted your brother to carry the last name that he was given. For somebody to come along much later and expect somebody's name to be changed on the basis of assumption would be going against the wishes of those involved, I would think.
You said that you thought it might have been arranged (your brother's conception) because your uncle wanted a son. If that were the case, your aunt and uncle would have had ample opportunity to decide to give the child their name, to raise it as theirs, or to have shared custody. This would have been during the decision making process, before whatever method of homemade old fashioned in-vitro fertilization was used. If this is the case then the fact that your brother was raised by your mother and father and given their last name was a choice they made consciously, and I would honor their choice. However I am more inclined to think that the conception occured in the usual manner and that your brother was given your name and raised in the same manner as you, because that's how these things were handled in those days. I would assume your aunt said "I wouldn't mind" because it was the genteel thing to do. People of that era did not wear their heart on their shirtsleeve the way we do today.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2002 at 3:44PM
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Thanks, Patty. You make a lot of sense.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2002 at 12:11PM
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I know a 15 year old who is raised by his mother and step father.. I once asked him if while he was in tennessee (where is dad lives) if his dad knew he was there...he said yes.. I asked him if his dad contacted him...he said no.. He also told me that Jeff is his dad (Jeff is married to his mom and is his step dad). This is a good point of it takes alot to be a dad. If someone (anyone) in your family was a father to a child not there own.. Feel yourself lucky to have known such a wonderful human being..

    Bookmark   November 13, 2002 at 9:15PM
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