DEAR DEIDRE: I KNOW for certain that the man who visits my mum is my dad, even though he has a wife and another family with the woman. But my mum won’t talk about it.
I am a 24-year-old man. I have an older sister who is 26 and a brother who is 14.
Mum and this guy always deny it when I confront them. My mum has brought us up alone. She is 47 and my dad is 51.
My best friend has three other siblings. His dad, the man I know is also my dad, used to take us all out together to football training and other activities we were involved in. We all got on well.
Unlike me, my mate and his siblings had everything. I was always at their house and it was obvious his mum wasn’t keen on me.
My friend’s dad used to come to my house to do DIY jobs for my mum.
At first I didn’t think anything of it but as we got older we realised he would come over a lot when we were out, at school or at work.
My younger brother has been told not to talk about this man to anyone.
My brother still goes out with him and his children as a friend but he’s told to keep his head down in the car so no one can see him.
All this secrecy is damaging for my brother.
He is really unhappy and I am worried about him. My mum tries to normalise everything but my brother knows it is definitely not normal.
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My brother has told me not to speak to our mum about it. It’s true she would only brush it off and make out I was being ridiculous.
The truth is my mum has been second best for 30 years to a man who does what he wants.
She has ruined her life by waiting for him to turn up. I feel so sorry for her and my brother.
DEIDRE SAYS: How painful for you and your siblings.
Secrets in families are very damaging. Your mum and dad are very wrong to collude and deny you the truth.
Find a chance to talk to your mum privately, without your younger brother being around, about how she got together with your father and what the circumstances were.
Say you realise this is difficult for her but you, your brother and your sister deserve to know the truth and at least speak openly about your dad.
Do you feel able to talk to your dad and say it’s time he acknowledged his other children?
I bet the pressure to keep this secret really comes from him, not your mum.
Tell him how worried you are about the effect this is having on your brother emotionally.
Encourage your brother to talk to The Mix, who are there for under-25s (themix.org.uk, 0808 808 4994).
This must lie between you and your best friend and now you’re an adult it is reasonable for you to make your own choice about whether to speak to him openly about it.
That could make your parents realise it’s time for the truth to come out.