Dear Barb – Family Defects

Dear Barb:

My fiancé and I have been dating for three years and we are planning to marry next summer and have children right away. Unfortunately, quite a few of my finance’s family members have birth defects. For example, he has a sister who has down syndrome, a cousin who has cystic fibrosis, and two other cousins are mentally slow. I am concerned about our children inheriting these conditions and I think we should get genetic testing before we have children. I have mentioned this to my finance and he says if our children are born with birth defects then we should accept them as they are, since children are gifts from God. I don’t see it that way. If there is a chance of having a child with a birth defect I would rather adopt, as I know it is not something I could deal with. Looking for some advice. Thanks, Laura

Hi Laura:

I commend you for being honest with yourself and realizing your limitations. Have you shared your feelings with your fiancé? This is a big issue that definitely needs to be resolved before you marry. Is your fiancé at least willing to go for genetic testing, if so then you can postpone this discussion until after you get the results. Genetic testing is done through a simple blood test. In order for you and your fiancé to pass on a genetic abnormality to your children you both have to test positive and then there is only a 25% chance that your child will inherit the gene. If only one of you screen positive for an abnormal gene, your children will probably not inherit the condition. Even if your fiancé does not want to be tested you can be tested and if something shows up then perhaps you could convince him to go for testing. If the screening shows positive for both of you and your fiancé still does not want to adopt, you need to do some serious thinking about this marriage and your future together. Thanks, Laura, for bringing up this very important issue.

Dear Barb:

My sister is suffering from mental illness which includes paranoid thinking. She is convinced someone is getting into her apartment and stealing her cigarettes and pop while she is sleeping. I know that is not possible because she has a deadbolt lock on her door, plus a chain and a lock on the doorknob. She wants my husband to put a new lock on her door. My husband is reluctant to do this because in the past she has called the police on family members if she believes the work they have done if not up to her standards. I just don’t know if we should replace this lock because I am positive no one is getting into her apartment and if we replace the lock and the items are still missing, we will get blamed for installing a defective lock. I believe she is drinking the pop and smoking the cigarettes but forgets that she did. I’m not quite sure how to handle this without causing my sister to freak out. Thanks Jeanne

Hi Jeanne:

Paranoid thinking is often a part of numerous mental disorders. To maintain your sister’s peace of mind perhaps you could suggest that she hire a locksmith. This will take your husband off the hook and prevent any subsequent repercussions from your sister. If money is an issue, maybe the family could get together and help her out. It’s a tricky situation, but hopefully she will come to realize no one is getting into her apartment, therefore she must be the one drinking the pop and smoking the cigarettes. Good Question!

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