DEAR HARRIETTE: My ex-husband remarried a little while ago, and they eventually had a child. He and I share two kids from our marriage.
My oldest is starting to realize that the new child is getting a lot more attention than he did from his dad growing up. My oldest is in his late 20s now, so it seems kind of random for him to be harping on this the way he is. He will often compare his experiences with his father to the experiences that his youngest half-sibling is getting.
I feel that it’s not my place to address the resentment he’s feeling toward his father. I really think that the two of them could benefit from a sit-down.
Is it even my place to facilitate this? How can I make that happen?
DEAR HARD CONVERSATIONS: I think it’s OK for you to start the conversation with your son.
The reality is that your ex-husband had this child much later in life than when he had your son. I’m sure he has learned a lot from his past and is working to be a more attentive father this go-round. Yes, that may be hurtful to your son, but it is likely what is happening.
It would be great if your son could recognize that he does not need to be in competition with his younger sibling. This is just a new time in the family’s life.
Recommend that he reach out to his dad to talk. Instead of complaining about how much attention this new child is getting, why not ask his dad to rekindle their bond? Even though your son is older, he still needs his dad. He should say that to his father and ask him to make time to connect. That will likely work much better than making his dad feel guilty for loving his baby too much.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I know nothing about my birth parents. I was adopted when I was a newborn and was told very little about my biological mom and dad.
I’m now in college and old enough to find myself getting more and more curious. I mentioned my birth parents to my adoptive mom and dad, and they said if I really wanted to talk about it, we could, but seemed clearly uninterested in willingly giving me information about them.
I want to know more about my birth parents, but I don’t want to upset my mom and dad. I also don’t want to go behind their backs to find out more information because I don’t want to betray their trust. What should I do?
DEAR HAPPILY ADOPTED: It is natural for you to be curious and perfectly normal to want to learn more. Tell your parents that you do want to learn more about your birth parents. Assure them that you love them, but this is a natural curiosity, and you would appreciate their help in pointing you to the adoption agency and any other information they have.
You can also start the process on your own. Child Welfare Information Gateway is the government agency that can help you start your research: acf.hhs.gov/cb/faq/adoption7.
If possible, include your parents in your exploration to the extent that they feel comfortable. This may help them know that you aren’t going behind their backs. You just want to know.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to [email protected] or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.
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Author: Harriette Cole
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