Recently, after a few drinks, my mother confessed to me that my stepbrother years ago had been arrested for downloading child pornography and spent three months in jail for it. Apparently she and her husband (my stepbrother’s father) only recently found out when my stepbrother was asked to leave a family function by someone who knew about it. She promised both of them to never tell a soul and has felt burdened ever since. She blames herself for breaking the promise and feels guilty for telling me. But I was able to persuade her to tell my brother about this because he has children who have met my stepbrother. In some ways this revelation has brought my mother and me closer, because I’m proud of her for telling us. But I want to let the rest of our stepsiblings (all adults with children) know, since I think they have the right to decide for themselves how to deal with this information. I think my mother is afraid her husband will be extremely upset if she pushes the issue, and she doesn’t want to split the family. I now feel the burden has been passed on to me. I avoid going to family gatherings because I worry about my stepbrother being there, and I feel terrible for keeping this information from my other stepsiblings. Don’t they have the right to know? How can I support my mother and assure her that I’m on her side while still convincing her to inform the others?
—Creeped Out and Concerned