Dear Barb—Things Better Not Said?

Dear Barb:

I am in my twenties and have two older brothers who are 12 and 13 years older than me.  I don’t resemble my brothers, they have dark hair and eyes and I have light hair and blue eyes.  My mom raised us as a single mom.  Our dad died when I was a baby, so I have no memories of him, but I always had the feeling that I have a different father than my brothers.  I have been reluctant to ask, as we are a pretty stoic family, but I really would like to know.  I don’t want my mother to feel I am implying anything by asking her this question.  One of my brothers is a little more open than the other one, so I’m thinking of asking him.  Do you think I should or would I just be stirring the pot? Looking for some advice, thanks Ron. 

Hi Ron:

Just because you don’t look like your brothers doesn’t mean you don’t have the same biological father.  Do you look like anyone else in the family, like cousins or a grandfather? Sometimes people look like long lost relatives.  Does your mother have pictures of her family and your late father’s family? You could check through to see if you resemble anyone else.  Although people often have a sixth sense about these things, just something doesn’t feel right.  If that is what you are feeling, then maybe there is some validity to your concerns.  If finding the answer to this question is important to you, then I would suggest you discuss your feelings with your brother first and if then approach your mother.  She should not be offended by the fact that you have some questions.  Best of luck Ron.

Dear Barb: 

The other day I was out for drinks with friends and we got talking about a few controversial topics.  When we began discussing global warming things got pretty heated.  We were almost a 50/50 split on whether global warming is really happening, or it’s just a big hype.  Things got so heated that most of the group were not talking to each other by the end of the night.  I don’t understand why people get so heated that they actually make friends into enemies over things like this.  I am frustrated with everyone for their reactions.  Is there anything I can do to smooth this over and get my friends back together? Thanks, Madeline.

Hi Madeline:

Global warming is a hot topic and not one that is easily agreed on as you discovered.  People generally become agitated about things they are passionate about.  Possibly a couple of people in your group got worked up and that caused others to follow.  You may be the one that is overreacting now.  Wait a few weeks and plan another outing and invite everyone and see who shows up.  If the conversation seems to be following the same trend, which I highly doubt it will, try to redirect the exchange to something more neutral.  Thanks for your question.