TV’s Steph and Dom Parker, 53 and 55, draw on their 22 years of marriage to solve your relationship problems . . .
Thirty-odd years ago, I dated a girl who became pregnant. I did the honourable thing and married her. We had the baby and two more after that. Then, when the eldest was six, my wife asked for a divorce and my whole life fell apart.
I have a partner now, but I never hear from my children. Over the years, people have been surprised when I am introduced as my sons’ father, and just recently someone told me that my sons are not mine.
I love my now grown-up children with every thread of my body — but I need to know if I am their biological father.
I am making my will and want to ask them to take a DNA test after I die. If we match, I hope they forgive me; if not, they will be excluded and will have to challenge their mother.
I feel like I have been cheated all these years. What do you think?
First, I would like to say that I am deeply impressed that you have had the courage to talk to us about this, and I hope that simple act of sharing your story will, at least partially, lift the burden from your shoulders.
This is a painful situation and you’ve been living with it for years. It has clearly been at the back of your mind and has made you very unsettled and unhappy. I completely understand why you feel the need for the truth now, to set your mind at rest.
What’s interesting here is how, as you describe in your longer letter, this questioning feeling has intruded over the years.
You have always felt that something was not quite right. Now you feel it’s time to rip off the plaster and you’re gearing yourself up to do something you’ve been terrified to mention or address for years.
I sense that you are a very decent man. I think you made the right decision to marry and stick with it. You should take great pride in the results of your love and fruits of your labour, and celebrate that your children have become the men they are today — they wouldn’t be where they are without you.
I think you should shift your entire focus to them. You say you feel somewhat cheated, but it’s important to remember that, if your ex-wife was unfaithful, it was she who did the cheating, not the children.
I understand you are probably regretting time lost, but you must remember that your children are entirely blameless.
So, you should think very carefully before you proceed. You must think about what you really want to achieve here.
Personally, I think that after all these years of supporting your children, opening this Pandora’s box will achieve nothing.
In the autumn of your years, I feel this bubbling resentment and curiosity should not be part of your life.
Why waste your energy on an issue you may never resolve?
If these painful feelings are to do with your ex-wife, then remember that she has to face up to her own demons, as we all do eventually. If there have been rumours about the paternity of her sons all these years, she will have had to deal with them too.
So my advice is not to do this. These boys have been your children all of their lives and there’s nothing to be gained by potentially revealing that they have been living this lie too.
In seeking a DNA test you may cause pain not only to your ex-wife, but to your children.
Try to enjoy each other for as long as you can and let the past lie in its cold box.
You poor chap. This is terribly sad and I have to say my heart goes out to you. You have been through it, haven’t you?
Evidently, you have been very decent in not mentioning this before, especially after the rejection you felt when your ex-wife asked you to move out and end the marriage.
You have continued to act responsibly and not to shirk. You did the right thing and went above and beyond, and for that I commend you. I’m delighted to hear you now have the relationship you deserve to comfort and support you in your later years.
In your longer letter you mention unkind and unhelpful reactions and comments made at weddings, parties and the like. They must have been difficult to tolerate and I’m sorry that you have been the subject of such awful gossip.
I have to say, though, that if you have been on the receiving end of this kind of thing, then I wonder if the children have, too. It’s possible that they have heard similar things themselves, which might explain why you don’t hear from them very often. Equally, of course, they could intend to be in touch more frequently but are simply busy — they are in their 30s with lives and children of their own.
But, just as you acted honourably and worked hard to ensure the welfare of your children when they were younger, so you must continue to think of them now. Yes, you have a duty to your own happiness, but you must not put them through pain after you have gone.
Think how upset they would be to have to endure this after your death, when you’re not around to express your love for them. If you feel you must know the truth about their DNA, invite them round and explain how you’re feeling. Apologise to them now, when you can. Tell them that the results won’t affect how much you love them.
You say in your letter that you love them with every thread in your body — well, tell them that! If they agree to take the tests and it turns out they are not biologically yours, you must let them know that you love them anyway — and you cannot do that if you’re 6 ft under.
As for the will, it’s up to you to leave your money how you wish, and if they are not biologically yours you owe them nothing more than love and support. But remember that wills intended to hurt tend to do exactly that.
My advice? Either take your fury with your ex and your doubts about paternity to the grave, or grasp the nettle when you are still around to help salve the wound.
If you have a question you’d like Steph and Dom to tackle, write to: [email protected]dailymail.co.uk