Dear Amy: 52 years ago my sister shared a secret with me on condition that I not tell anyone.
She has five children, two of them with her first husband. The secret is that the other three were conceived with three different men while she was married to this husband.
I feel guilty for keeping this secret and that my adult nieces and nephews have a fundamental right to know their truth.
Her fear of being rejected by her children once they know the truth keeps her calm. Besides, she sees no reason to upset so many families.
Is it her secret to keep from her five grown children?
The letters I read in your column make it clear that with the spread of DNA testing, it is ultimately only a matter of time before it is revealed.
Is it my secret to tell?
Not my secret?
Dear distress: Knowing a secret doesn’t make it yours. So you must not share this secret.
Yes, your sister’s adult children have the right to know her DNA heritage. Your sister is the person who should tell them.
She can either tell them herself and hope to control the narrative, or wait for the inevitable DNA search to uncover the truth.
Keep in mind that when one of the three affected siblings (or their children) registers on a DNA site, it confuses it with other DNA relatives out there (e.g. Tangled Web.
You could help your sister if you offer to discuss this with her and reassure her that you will continue to offer emotional support.
Dear Amy: I work for a small spa. Over the past eight years, my family and the owners’ family have become friends. We have small children who play together.
The business owner recently confided that he and his wife broke the law by not paying employees minimum hourly wages on top of the time they booked with clients.
This has been happening for several years and I am legally entitled to $9,000 to $10,000 in back payments.
Although the owners did everything lawfully, they made no mention of paying me this money owed. The other employees are unaware that they are also owed money.
I’ve spoken to a lawyer, and while I’m owed the money by law, I need to take the matter to court — or try to settle.
I’m so torn I feel betrayed by my boss/boyfriend and somehow obligated to tell my co-workers. They are also owed money.
I’m not sure if I can still remain friends or still work for this company.
I caught them lying to other employees.
Should I ask my bosses/friends for the money?
Should I inform the other employees?
Rub me wrong!
Dear faker: You should collect the back payment owed to you on the advice of your solicitor (a letter from the solicitor could inspire business owners to avoid litigation and offer you a fair settlement).
You should assume that your friendship is over and proactively seek a position at another company if you decide to break up.
In terms of notifying the other employees, your attorney’s letter to the spa owners may include a sentence urging them to take steps to restore pay for all of their employees. Your attorney may choose to contact the other employees independently, raking in a few more clients and billable hours along the way.
Entrepreneurs should assume that all employees know about it. The spa’s own attorney will advise them on settlement, dealing with penalties and lawfully continuing the business.
Dear Amy: To Tell or Not wondered if she should tell her future husband about her past sexual abuse story.
I only worked through my abuse story after the death of my abuser, several years after my marriage and after the birth of my child.
I finally worked up the courage to tell my husband by writing a letter explaining what had happened. His answer? “I always knew there was something wrong with you.”
I was shocked. He never said anything supportive.
That was the beginning of the end of our marriage.
Had I known he thought I was “defective,” I probably never would have married him.
Learned too late
Dear scholars: I am sorry. Thank you for offering your perspective.
You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.