Ask Amy: Should donor father force biological siblings to meet?
Dear Amy: A few years back, I discovered that I had fathered an adult child resulting from my being a sperm donor decades ago.
This child was raised by a single mother and has no siblings.
This child sought me out because they “wanted more family.” We have become good friends and I treasure this relationship.
I have encouraged the adult child I raised (also a biological child) to meet their half-sibling but, although there has been sporadic texting, the adult child I raised has not made much effort to meet their half-sibling.
They are very close in age.
I don’t want my encouragement to be misinterpreted.
Should I discontinue encouraging these two to connect?
– New Father
Dear New Father: You should continue to encourage these two to connect, but your encouragement should be a soft-sell, understanding that these two adults have the right to face – and pace – the possibility of their own relationship in their own way.
You should relate to each of them as individuals, and be transparent and relaxed about your contact with each.
This is a complex and awkward situation for the child you raised, who I assume was not aware of your donation or prepared for the possibility of encountering a sibling until recently, whereas the recently discovered child sought out contact with you.
The child you raised might not have ever wanted “more family.” Now that they have more family, they will need time to adjust.
Dear Amy: When the pandemic first hit, two of my college friends and I started a group text. It was a true lifeline.
About a year ago, however, the two friends started texting “Good morning!” every single day. That’s it: just “Good morning!”
My friends both live alone, so these check-ins may feel important to them, but I find them incredibly irritating.
I’m not sociable in the morning, and I’m not a fan of obligatory daily texts, especially as life has mostly returned to normal.
I haven’t responded to the “good morning” messages in at least six months, but they still arrive every day.
I’ve turned off notifications and only reply to actual conversations, but my friends haven’t seemed to notice.
Is there any way to extricate myself from the “Good mornings?”
I love my friends and want to communicate with them – even daily – but not in this forced, intrusive way.
I’m worried that if I share my feelings, they’ll stop texting me altogether.
– Cranky Before Noon
Dear Cranky: First, a word for tolerance.
You find these texts irritating, even though you have turned off your notifications.
So – simply knowing that this exchange is sitting silently in your phone bothers you. I’m not judging you (I get it!), but you must admit that this is the essence of sweating the small stuff.
Irritations can sometimes be mitigated by reframing them into humor, especially if you can use the irritation to laugh at yourself.
Buddhist thinker Pema Chodron provides a useful way to develop more tolerance – by “practicing” on the small things. You train yourself to tolerate smaller irritations (sitting in traffic, sitting on hold, minor mix-ups in your food order, pesky and perky “good mornings”). Through practice, you change your perspective and your behavior as you go.
If you are unable or unwilling to try this technique, you could text both of your friends: “You may notice that I don’t respond to your ‘Good morning’ messages. I have a confession to make: I’m a total crankypants before noon. Could we get two text threads going? One for you two to greet each other in the morning, and one to loop me in for our longer convos? I’m sorry to be such a grouch. I LOVE our connection – especially any day after noon.”
Dear Amy: I’d like to add an additional point to your response to “Worried Mom” and the anxiety she has over the challenges her young adult sons face as they navigate the world.
You advised her to let her sons know about the anxiety their conversations can provoke.
It’s possible that her sons have inherited her anxious tendencies and are looking to her for reassurance during conversations.
As a parent who struggles with anxiety and has children who have inherited that gene, it is often a balance between being vulnerable with them while also lending strength when they need it.
Worried should approach the subject carefully, lest her sons begin to feel they should only share positive news.
– Also Anxious
Dear Anxious: Thank you for this very valuable insight.