Ask Amy: DNA testing brings new niece into the family

Dear Amy: I recently did DNA ancestry testing, hoping to locate relatives of my father, who died when I was very young.

To my surprise I found out that I have a niece.

I have one brother, and he is a confirmed bachelor, but apparently, he fathered a child 40 years ago.

When I told him of these DNA results, he seemed surprised. He also indicated that he had no interest in meeting or pursuing a relationship with his new-found daughter.

I asked if he would object if my son and I reached out to her. He requested that we not pursue a relationship.

As the months went by, I felt a longing to meet her. She was already following us on social media, so it seems that she might have already been aware of the relationship before I connected the DNA dots.

I only have one son, and no nieces or nephews.

Against my brother’s wishes, I reached out to her, and my son and I met her for dinner. She seems to be a lovely young woman and we mutually want to pursue a family relationship.

I would love to introduce her to my mom, her grandmother, who is 95 years old. I really think she would love to know that she has a granddaughter.

Needless to say, my brother was disappointed that I did not respect his wishes and specifically requested that I not tell our mother.

I am just brokenhearted. I still plan on seeing my niece, but I just wish my brother would come around.

Any suggestions?

— Anguished Aunt

Dear Anguished: You asked your brother for permission to contact your niece and he said no, but you went ahead and did so, anyway.

You’ve asked him about connecting your niece with her grandmother, and he has said no. I suggest that you do so, anyway.

Given that your brother didn’t know about his biological daughter’s existence and has since declared that he doesn’t want to have anything to do with her, I’d say that he doesn’t really have any claim on her or any authority to deny other family members access to her.

The only way your brother might come around is if you continue to acknowledge and maintain a relationship with this very nice woman as a family member. I suggest that you do so openly (not keeping this a secret from him), while not pressuring or forcing a relationship onto him that he is not ready to have.

Dear Amy: I am one of a group of mothers who have been friends for a long time.

Our group includes “Betty” and “Jane.”

Betty’s daughter, “Belle” and Jane’s daughter, “Jill” attend the same high school.

Belle and Jill used to be good friends but got crosswise with each other about a year ago.

Then their mothers got involved.

The situation has escalated into an all-out war between the two families, with accusations and counteraccusations of bullying, and the involvement of the high school principal.

Think “War of the Roses” intensity.

We friends are trying to stay neutral.

We love both these women and their daughters, and we hate to see these hostilities destroying these two families.

Do you think there is anything we can do to de-escalate the situation?

— Distressed Friends

Dear Distressed: Given the level of animus and the way it has escalated, I don’t believe it is within your power to direct these warring parties to change, but you might be able to influence them to at least consider the larger consequences of this discord, and the impact on their friendships.

Because you’ve written to me, you might try to draft a letter to send to both women (send the same letter to both).

Without taking sides or relitigating this conflict, you could speak from your heart regarding the impact this has had on your friendship. Recall a positive memory involving both from before this conflict started, and tell them how sad this has made you. End with, “I wish you would find a way to work this out.”

Dear Amy: I guffawed when I saw a reference in your column to the parenting torture that is the game “Candyland.”

This was when you were responding to the question from “No Gaslight” about lying to children about Santa Claus.

My mother used to rig the cards to make the game as short as possible.

— Paul

Dear Paul: I love this. A savvy game designer should release: “Candyland Revenge: Rigged Edition.”

(You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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