Q: My boyfreinds ex-wife was unfaithful for the whole 17 years of their marriage. Out of their 4 children, their youngest child was produced from an affair and the 3 might be as well. She was very deceptive and lied all the time. My boyfriend’s aunt says she thinks the oldest is highly unlikey his also. Apparently the only one could be the 2nd child, a daughter, that is only his. My boyfriend and I have only discussed this once. Should this matter be left alone and everyone be happy? or should my boyfriend find out the truth? he loves his kids and knowing the truth will not change his feelings but should the kids know? I am afraid this will come out in the future. Should he wait till then?

A: The trouble with family secrets is that they usually get found out. Then the kids involved feel betrayed and angry and wonder what else they haven’t been told. If other people in the family know the situation, chances are someone will eventually slip up and tell. You don’t mention how old these children are. My vote would be to find a way to tell the children the truth about their parentage in a way that is appropriate to their ages. Their father could tell them that he thought it important that they heard it from him, that he loves them as his own, and that being a father is about more than genes. He is their father and will always be there for them.

Your boyfriend does need to be prepared for the eventuality that the kids might be curious and want to find out about their biological parent. There is room in kids’ hearts and minds to relate to both their bio parent and the parent who raised them. They know who has loved them and been there for them. It’s really not a contest. If he doesn’t make them feel like they have to choose, chances are they will figure out for themselves how to relate to both of their dads.
I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Aug 2006

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2006). Should my boyfriend tell his kids they may not be his?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 2, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2006/08/30/should-my-boyfriend-tell-his-kids-they-may-not-be-his/