Family Secrets: When To Tell
Dear Ms. Demeanor:
I have a problem with my sister-in-law. We have been best friends since high school. Her daughter is pregnant, and I found out through the grapevine. I didn't say anything to her, because I felt it was her daughter's place and not mine. Well, she finally ended up finding out through the grapevine, and now she is mad that I didn't tell her. This really hurts, because I have had a lot of problems in the past year and she was there for me. Now I want to be there for her too. Was I wrong not to tell her?
No, you weren't wrong. This is indeed a sticky situation, and chances are she's more angry at the situation than anything else and transferring it to you.
You might say something like: "When I heard, I put myself in your place and thought I'd rather have my daughter tell me herself. So, mistakenly, I hoped she would tell you." Then apologize for hurting her by your omission. Tell her all the things you wrote to me. Perhaps it will take her some time to warm up again; that's only natural when we feel betrayed. Give her time. Send her flowers. Invite her to lunch. Write her a note. Do whatever it takes to let her know you did what you thought was right at the time, and if you goofed in her mind, you are sorry.
Don't speak of this pregnancy to anyone. Perhaps the greatest gift you can give your sister-in-law is not to perpetuate the grapevine.