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Might her cousin be her half-brother?

DEAR AMY: My father had several affairs, left our family and remarried another woman. We have confronted him about his sins, but he acts as though he has done nothing wrong.

I have a maternal aunt who has a son, but we don't know his father. Our family believes our father is also his father because our cousin looks like my father when he was young. My father calls my cousin often and even attended his graduation. We have asked our father and our aunt about our cousin's paternity, but they both deny it. Our aunt said she will disclose the identity of the father at the right time. We just want the truth. We know it will hurt, but it will set us free.

-- It's Complicated

DEAR COMPLICATED: Your desire for information and "freedom" does not equal your aunt's and cousin's right to deal with this issue the way they choose to.

If your aunt asked me this question, I would urge her to disclose her son's parentage to him (if she hasn't already) because her son has a right to know his biological parentage, and also because this sort of family secret has a way of snowballing, as your question demonstrates.

DEAR AMY: Our 24-year-old daughter had a similar situation to "Very Worried's" daughter, in which she ended what she thought was a casual friendship with a slightly older man, and he became bitter and bad-mouthed her up and down the social and professional circles in which they traveled. Your expert, Michele Archer, said, "I can't comment on whether the father should confront him." My husband did confront this person privately in a firm, nonaggressive but assertive manner, and that ended it (thankfully).

-- Satisfied in LA

DEAR SATISFIED: This is a judgment call, but confrontation is not something a stalking expert (or I) would automatically recommend.

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