DEAR AMY: Thirteen years ago, I had an affair and conceived a child. My son is now 12, and the husband I cheated on is now my ex-husband. My ex accepted and treats our son like his own. Never once, even in heated battles about care, money or school has he said, "He's not mine, so I don't care." I've never pulled the, "He's not your son" argument, either. In talking to my ex about the inevitable revelation of our son's actual father, my ex says he would prefer our son never know. I have remarried. My current husband says the decision is mine and he'll support it, but he thinks my son should be told the truth. I grew up without my dad, so seeing my ex-husband so freely take care of a child who is not his, I want to leave well enough alone. Yet there is a part of me that feels our son deserves to know the truth. My son's real father owes more than $700,000 in child support and chooses not to be a part of his life. Do I expose my son to that type of rejection when he has such a loving father whom he has known as his father his whole life?
DEAR MOM: You grew up without a father. Your son grew up with a father. His dad is his father. The man you had an affair with is the biological father -- please don't use the terms "real" and "actual" to refer to him.
If at all possible, you, your ex and your current husband should meet in the office of a family counselor to talk this through. The truth should be disclosed. Your son is at an extremely tender age. Your counselor might suggest that you wait a few months. Your ex may choose to formally and legally adopt him.
You should also abandon any mention of child support. If you had wanted to make a child support claim, you should have handled it many years ago.
It would be a mistake to imply to your son that there is any sort of financial issue on the table.