*Dear Tamara:

I just found out that my father has a daughter with another woman. Apparently he had an affair on my mother shortly after they were married. The woman contacted my father and now wants to have a relationship with him after all of these years. I also found out that my mother and two siblings already knew about this girl and no one bothered to tell me. Yes I am the baby of the family, but I think I had as much right as everyone else to know the truth. I haven’t talked to my parents or my siblings since they broke the news to me and to tell the truth, I don’t think I am going to any time soon. If they could lie to me all these years about having a half-sister, what else could they be keeping from me? Furthermore, I am angry at my father for betraying my mother. I can’t believe she even stayed with him all of these years!

Betrayed

Dear Betrayed:

Family secrets can be devastating. I understand your initial shock learning that you have a half sister and even the initial betrayal you felt knowing so many people around you knew and for whatever reason kept it from you. Many times people we love try to protect us from things they think will harm us only to discover that they are really hurting or hindering us.

As for your parents, whatever happened between your mother and father and how they chose to resolve or not resolve the situation is between them. Though you may feel disappointed, it is not your place to pass judgment on either of them. If your mother was able to forgive your father and move on, you should respect her decision. As children (and sometimes even adults) many of our disappointments come from finding out that our parents are “just people” and that they have either dealt with or are going through many of the same situations we face in our own lives. Nobody is perfect, even our parents.

I encourage you not to shut off communication with your parents and siblings, especially right now when you all may need one another’s support. Talk to them about how you feel and let them know that you were hurt by their decision to keep this from you. Then you need to make a conscious decision to forgive them and move on. Holding onto grudges will not help the situation.

As for your half-sister, I know it may be awkward and/or uncomfortable allowing her into your family circle, but you need to keep in mind that she is a victim in all of this as well. Regardless of the circumstances, she did not ask to be brought into this situation either. I ultimately believe that everyone has a right to know who their family is. I encourage you to expand your mind and your heart and hopefully one day you all can talk and move forward.

Author of the upcoming book Been There Done That: And Lived to Tell About It, Tamara R. Allen is Your Advice Guru giving REAL advice from REAL experience. Email your questions to asktamara@tamararallen.com. You can follow Tamara on twitter @tamararallen or check out her daily column and archives at www.tamararallen.com.