Dear Annie: Years ago, my brother, "Harry," cheated on his wife. She forgave him, and they got back together. They seem very happy.
A few years after his affair, the other woman had him served with paternity papers. Harry pays child support, but he has never met the child and says he doesn't plan to. He doesn't feel he can give that child the kind of relationship he has with his other children. He also doesn't want his kids to find out that he cheated on their mother.
Harry has asked that I keep this news private, but I feel he needs to play some part in this child's life. I've tried talking to him, but he says it's not my business. I also feel his children have the right to know, and that as the aunt to all of these children, I should tell them they have a sibling. Harry told me this is not my place, and if I continue to press the matter, he will not allow me to be alone with his children for fear that I will not respect his wishes. What should I do? — Stuck in a Family Dilemma
Dear Stuck: Please respect Harry's choices, even though you disagree. Depending on the ages of these children, telling them could be complicated and confusing. Yes, we agree that they should know they have a sibling, but how and when to tell them is not your decision. Inform Harry that you will keep quiet, but that eventually, his kids will find out, and it would be best if it came directly from him, with Mom by his side, and not from, say, the Other Woman or her child. Urge him to consult a counselor who can help him find the best way to do this.
Dear Annie: We have a daughter-in-law whom we love very much. Our problem is, when we are out in public, she wears blouses that are so low I am afraid her breasts will fall out. It is tremendously embarrassing for my husband and me.
Should I ask her not to wear those blouses when we are out with her? Or do I just look the other way? — Nancy in Nantucket
Dear Nancy: Criticizing your daughter-in-law's clothing is never a good idea. If you can tolerate her decolletage, please do so. Otherwise, ask your son how he feels about this, and let him handle it. You also could buy her a lovely, demure new top for her birthday and hope that she will wear it the next time she sees you.
Dear Annie: I'd like to respond to the letter from "Aspie in Pittsburgh," the 17-year-old who has Asperger syndrome. As a mother of a 17-year-old son with an autism spectrum disorder, I have spent years researching and networking, hoping to learn whatever I can to help him achieve success in a world that is less than accepting of people with neurological differences.
What I've learned is that ASDs are complex, and there is no "one size fits all'" approach to transitioning into young adulthood. I would like to suggest two resources that may help:
College Autism Spectrum (collegeautismspectrum.com/students.html) is an organization of professionals that provides support and training for students with autism spectrum disorders and their families.
The other is Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid (shutupabout.com). This website is an offshoot of a book written by two sisters about their daughters, one with Asperger syndrome and the other with bipolar disorder. They also have a Facebook page that provides an exchange of ideas and information, as well as support.
I also would like to say to "Aspie" congratulations on your college acceptance, and best wishes for success in all of your future endeavors. — ASD Mom in Massachusetts
Dear Massachusetts: Thank you for your excellent resources. We hope they will be of assistance to all of our readers whose children need some extra help.
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2012. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.