Waiting for confirmation on sister suspicions

Dear Annie: My granddaughter, “Melanie,” thinks that she has a half-sister 24 years younger.

Melanie believes that her father, long divorced from her mother, was asked by his former unattached girlfriend with whom he remained friendly, to “help” her have a child before it becomes biologically too late.

Now, my granddaughter has become very attached to the 2 and 1/2 year old and visits her at least once a week. She finds a lot of physical resemblance to herself when she was that age. She sees her father participate lovingly in the little girl’s activities. She has asked him “the question” but he refuses to answer telling Melanie to address the question to the child’s mother whom she sees every time she goes to visit the young child. However, she cannot bring herself to asking the mother if this girl is her half-sister.

What should she do? — Wondering Grammy

Dear Wondering Grammy: Melanie has nothing to lose and a sister to gain. She’s already spending a lot of mental energy on the subject, and her dad actually told her to ask the child’s mother. So she should go ahead and ask — if she wants to know. But right now it seems that she’s not totally sure she does. Perhaps deep down she’s uncomfortable with the idea of her father having another child. I’d explore that with her to help her sort out her feelings so she can come to peace with this issue either way.

Dear Annie: I wanted to add one more point to the cigarette butt conversation that I feel you and the reader should have mentioned, as it is incredibly important: People who throw out their butts along roadways can and do cause wildfires, some of them causing death and destruction across vast areas. With this being wildfire season, we need to be more aware of how our habits impact the earth and those around us. — Concerned in the Northwest

Dear Concerned in the Northwest: You are absolutely correct. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there were an estimated 90,000 smoking-material fires in the United States in 2011, the most recent year for which this data is available. Those fires caused an estimated 540 civilian deaths and three times as many injuries. Discarding cigarettes properly can literally be a life-or-death issue. Thanks for bringing attention to this aspect of the problem.

Dear Annie: Like “Childless With No Regrets,” my husband and I also decided not to have children. After 33 years, we don’t ever regret being childless, either. To this day, when I see a baby, I smile and comment how beautiful he/she is to the proud parents, and am truly happy for them, but have no desire to hold the little “bundle of joy.” However, if I see a puppy, I go gaga, turn to mush, and snuggle the little pup in my arms and talk “baby talk” to it.

I remember when I was a rebellious teen, my mother would tell me, “I hope when you have kids, they turn out to be just like you!” That was enough for me to swear off having children! — Dog Mom in Missouri

Dear Dog Mom: Bundles of joy come in all shapes and sizes. Millions of pups need “parents,” so it’s wonderful that you were able to take one into your home. Thanks for sharing your experience with not having children; I’m printing your letter for people who are facing peer pressure to have children when they’d rather not.

“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.

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