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by Abigail Van Buren

Happily Unattached Woman Enjoys Feeling of Freedom

DEAR ABBY: Before my mother died a year ago, she told me a secret. She said my middle-aged brother "Donnie" was conceived with a sperm donation rather than my father (also deceased), whose sperm count was low. My brother doesn't know this, and Mom didn't tell him before she died.

Donnie has had numerous emotional problems and has unresolved issues with our parents. Do you think it's important that he know of his "origin," or is this a secret I should take with me to the grave? I don't want to hurt him with this information, only to help him resolve some of his negative feelings toward our parents. I hate keeping family secrets, but I will remain silent if telling him would do more harm than good. -- HALF-SISTER IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR HALF-SISTER: Your half-brother should be told the truth. It may be difficult for him to hear, but on the other hand, it could explain some of the unspoken family dynamics that may have led to his unresolved issues with your parents. It might also help him understand why he felt "different," or may have felt he was treated differently than you were.