DNA result could be a relief for daughter

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Should I tell my daughter?

I’m mostly concerned about this because she knows the man I married (her DNA-less father, whom I later divorced) is an alcoholic. His mother and two aunts each died of genetic cancers.

If she finds out her DNA, my daughter will no longer believe she has these life-threatening traits, but I still wonder if she should know.

I certainly don’t want to tell my ex-husband – and I won’t.

MOM’S BABY, MAYBE DAD’S

A. Yes, you should tell your daughter.

If you can’t justify telling her the truth about her genetic background just because it’s the truth (and it’s medically important to her), consider this: she’s going to find out, anyway.

The ubiquity of DNA testing is quickly exploding family secrets, and the speed of this huge and drastic change also gives you a way out.

You don’t really need to spend years sitting on this knowledge and struggling with this dilemma. So tell him now.

People should know the truth about their DNA heritage, if possible. Sometimes the truth holds huge surprises or huge challenges. Often it answers deep questions that people have asked but never expressed – about hair or eye color, posture, preferences, personality.

Your daughter might be really shocked by this revelation. She might blame or judge you for your one-night stand from a long time ago. Given the genetic history you cite, she might also feel a sense of relief.

Regardless of how she receives this news, you are ethically bound to pass it on.

Q My husband had a vasectomy 15 years ago after having two children in his previous marriage. I was 18 when we got married and I assured him (and myself) that I was fine not having a baby and was fine with the little family we had.

Fast forward a few years. We have now been married for six years. I’m now 24 and brought up the subject of wanting my husband a baby. (It’s weird how you go from 18 to 24).

We started going for consultations, found a doctor we liked, and got a credit card just to pay for the procedure.

Last night, he confessed to me that he never wanted to have another baby and that he was just making a gesture to make me happy. He said he didn’t want to raise another baby in his 40s.

I’m heartbroken and I just want to move on and stop crying for a child I never had.

Your advice?

CHILDLESS NOT BY CHOICE

A. Choosing to have a vasectomy is a pretty strong indicator that your husband had decided not to father more children; you obviously discussed it before you got married, and it seems he did his best to be honest with you.

However, you were still a teenager when he and you got married, and he – as a much older person – should have foreseen that you would continue to mature and change.

This is the most important issue you will face as a couple, and whatever choice you make will affect the rest of your life in a primary and profoundly important way.

It is extremely unlikely that your desire to have a child will diminish over time – instead, this desire will grow.

You and your husband should see an experienced couples counselor who can help you navigate this extremely tricky issue. You will also benefit from individual support.

Q May I suggest what we do with unsolicited cards? We donate them to a local women’s prison. Ladies cannot buy birthday cards and the like for their loved ones, but always like to remember their parents on special days.

Maybe other cities have similar programs. I hope this helps you!

ALISON

A. I love this idea!

Many prisons have extreme restrictions on what equipment can be donated. Obviously, both men and women would benefit from receiving blank cards (and stamps).

Amy Dickinson can be contacted at [email protected].

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