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Son should be told his father is a sex offender


Q: My son, 11, has never met his biological father, who left me after I became pregnant. Later, he was convicted of sexual assault on a 13-year-old girl and is now a registered sex offender.

All the information about him is available on the Internet. My son knows his name, but nothing else about him.

I haven’t told my son these facts about his biological father and don’t know if I should disclose this information and, if yes, how to do so. I don’t want him to stumble on it by accident, but I don’t want to hurt him with information that isn’t relevant to him.

My husband knows about my dilemma. He’s my son’s father in every way that counts. Neither of us is sure of the right course of action. Your thoughts?

Very Concerned

A: Your son has a loving family with a strong father figure, so he’s got the best chance of handling this information well, providing you prepare him for it well. And soon.

Not only can he find it on the Internet, but so can others who might tell him about it. And surely there are some people who already know this story.

You and your husband need to talk to a professional therapist about how to introduce the topic. Also, discuss how you feel about the biological father’s contribution to the boy’s genetic background (Worried? Ashamed? Not an issue?).

You’ll then be advised about the best way to present this news without making the boy feel any underlying negative association from his closest people, you two.

And the therapist should be available to him if he wants to talk about it privately.

Q: A friend and I have much in common. I’m 61, he’s 55. But lately, awkwardness has developed between us.

I’m positive and optimistic. He always sees the negative, petty side of things. When we’re together, our personalities clash — my sociability and his misanthropy.

Often, if we’re having coffee together, people who know me will want to chat, but my friend can be quite unpleasant.

It’s difficult to cultivate friends at our ages. Also, we’re both family-first individuals. Should I point out our differences to strengthen our friendship or just accept our casual relationship?

Neither of us is comfortable with criticism and he can be extremely prickly.

Seeking Stronger Friendship

A: Accept your friend as he is because he’s unlikely to change. Talk about the things you have in common, and avoid debating issues on which you’re bound to disagree.

With “family first,” you’re not lacking support or caring in your life. Different friends engage different interests and stimulate different conversations. Know what you enjoy with this person, and seek him out for that. You understand your areas of disagreement too well to expect more from him.

Q: I like a girl I’ve known for several years. She recently broke up with her boyfriend, who sexually abused her and raped one of my best friends. He will go to court in January.

She’s trying to get over him but carves his name into her arm. I worry for her safety. I want to protect her. However, we live 20 miles apart and only see each other at college.

My mother doesn’t like her and doesn’t know about her ex.

Sticky Situation

A: Get unstuck. This girl has poor judgment and the best you can do for both of you is to urge her to stay safely away from this guy and also to get counselling.

TIP OF THE DAY

Get professional help telling your child bad news about his/her biological parent.

Email ellie@thestar.ca. Ellie chats at noon Wednesdays at thestar.com/elliechat. Follow @ellieadvice.

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