My Half-Siblings From My Dad's Affair Want To Meet—What Should I Do?

Dear Newsweek,

My father had an affair and had children with his mistress. After my mom was killed in a tornado, the mistress pressed him to move her into our home. But, my very vocal older sister told the woman she could not come to our house to live and would not be welcome.

My father is now deceased and so is the former mistress. Other people are aware of the children because they have let it be known, and some of them came to his funeral. Our family never acknowledged or accepted them. Some people in the community have tried to force a connection with us, but I cannot accept this, as I was aware of the affair.

My older sister wanted to acknowledge the sin, on religious grounds, as a Christian, who holds no grudge. For me, it would be the end of morality and disrespect to my mother who suffered as a result of that relationship.

Stressed woman
A stock image of a stressed woman. Inside Creative House/iStock/Getty Images Plus

My mom knew about their sneaking around and imagine her shame knowing her children also knew. Our dad had no respect for his marriage vows or family commitment and neither did the woman. I believe our family should remain separate in every way and live our own lives.

It was a traumatic experience knowing about his infidelity. As a result of this, I find it hard to trust men and I have never had a successful relationship or married. My four sisters have never had successful relationships either.

Everlena, Illinois

It Is Your Choice If You Want Nothing To Do With Them

Jamie Schenk DeWitt, MA, is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice. Based in Los Angeles, California, Jamie's clinical training enables her to provide therapy to clients dealing with issues such as relationship concerns, anxiety, depression, parenting, sex, productivity issues at work or school, and life transitions.

The fact that you can clearly identify how your dad's infidelity traumatically impacted you shows that you have a good sense of what to do in this situation. Your reality and how you feel are valid. You are the only person who has first-hand experience of how your father's behavior and your mom's suffering impacted you.

Respect your feelings and boundaries concerning not wanting a relationship with your father's other children. If you feel inclined respectfully request that your community please honor your boundaries, so you can take the time and space you want to grieve and heal this trauma. It is meaningful that you recognize how your father's betrayal not only impacted you in terms of being untrusting of men but also how that lack of trust has impeded your ability to have successful and long-lasting partnerships.

Reader, I am very sorry about your father's infidelity, as well as the loss of your mother in a tornado. I am also sorry about your father's death. Even though he is deceased you can still confront and heal from the damage his betrayal has caused you and your family. Lying, deceit and a complete disregard for the sanctity of his marriage and family can rattle a sense of your foundation to yourself and others.

Being witness to your mom's betrayal and disrespect, as well as having to hold your father's secret, is truly not okay and distressing for a child. I understand how hard it is to feel safe and secure trusting a man after what you experienced growing up. Reader, give yourself permission to accept your feelings and know that you do not want to welcome his children from his relationship with his mistress into your family.

Acceptance of what has happened and how you feel about it is one of the very meaningful and important stages of grief. The other stages are denial, anger, bargaining, and depression. Reader, if you don't already have a good therapist to help you navigate and validate your trauma and present circumstances, please find someone to work with on your healing. You deserve it and it will help you meaningfully move forward.

Pause On Writing Off Your Half Siblings and Focus on Healing

Matt Lundquist, is a Columbia University-trained psychotherapist with more than a decade of clinical experience with individuals, couples, and families.

Decisions parents make have consequences for their children despite the fact the children usually have no say in those decisions. Sometimes the repercussions of those decisions last for a long time, even after the parents have passed away. You have been very clear: You do not approve of your father's affair and feel harmed and hurt by the relationship.

What's more complicated is the question of whether or not children from that relationship are responsible as well, or, are they just as much of a bystander as you and your siblings? Do you want to continue the cycle of bad decisions or see if there can be some kind of healing? You wouldn't want to be judged by the actions of your father. You should therefore pause before writing off your half-siblings for the same reason.


Newsweek's "What Should I Do?" gathers experts to advise a reader on an issue they're having in their personal life. If you have a WSID dilemma, let us know via life@newsweek.com. We can ask experts for advice and your story could be featured on Newsweek.