Dear Amy: I was tested by a DNA service that notifies participants of DNA relatives and their calculated degree of kinship.
I was stunned to learn that I have an adult niece. One of my brothers is her father.
No one in our large family is aware of this, and I have not broached the subject with the brother I believe is her father. He is married with other (younger) children.
The young woman identified as my niece has not reached out to me and I believe it is important to respect her privacy, even though I think she knows from the DNA results and social media who her father is.
I am steeling myself to keep this information secret and leave it to my niece to contact her father if she wishes. Your advice?
Amy says: You should contact your brother privately and tell him about this match. This is a simple fact of life, and he can either accept or deny it — that is not for you to judge. You are simply giving him a heads-up, and I would imagine that he would appreciate this, even if at the time, he is too shocked — or bewildered — to express it. He may not even be aware that he fathered a child.
You should not feel any pressure to contact this woman. If she contacts you, you’ll have to decide what you want to do about it. If she wants your help to contact your brother, get her information and pass it along to him.
The lay of the land
Dear Amy: The family farm recently came up for sale. My husband and I were the only family members in a position to buy it, and we were excited to do so.
Decades of neglect have left the buildings in disrepair, the barnyard is a junkyard and rampant four-wheeling has left a muddy mess. Extended family (my cousin, his wife and their two teenage boys) living next door were allowed free run of the place and have contributed to its current condition.
We want to return the property to its former glory and have made it clear to the next-door relatives that things will be changing. We agreed to limited family privileges, such as hunting, and put that agreement in writing. Nevertheless, they regularly flaunt their disregard for the rules. We are given a guilt trip for not giving “family” a free pass.
I was raised on a working farm (not this one) and was taught to respect the land and landowners. These relatives have no such ethic and are taking advantage of their family status.
We are trying very hard to be gracious. We know it hurts, but change happens.
Short of reporting them to the cops for trespassing, which would sever all family ties, what can we do?
Amy says: You and your husband should visit this household — or invite them to yours. Speak to the parents and children together.
Revisit the rules, which they have already agreed to. Ask them if they understand these agreed-upon restrictions, and tell them you expect them to abide by this agreement moving forward.
Some judicious fencing and posted signs might emphasize the boundary. The next time they overstep, you should have your lawyer write them a letter, reminding them of these rules. If they continue to violate these reasonable boundaries then yes, you may have to call the authorities.
Your job is to ignore any guilt they might try to heap upon you. It’s a simple fact that any new owner would likely insist on similar — or more severe — restrictions, and wouldn’t demonstrate your patience with neighbors who violate them.
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