BACK TO Knowledge Base

Coping With Guilt and Paternity Testing


If you have had a paternity test, it’s as accurate an answer you will get – with 99.99% certainty. But for men who discover they have grown-up children they never knew about, it can be devastating emotionally. For some men, a positive paternity test triggers terrible feelings of guilt.

Dealing with Guilt

Guilt can be the overriding emotion when you discover you have a grown-up child you never knew about. A paternity test could uncover children who were a result of an affair or liaison. And finding out later in life when they’ve already done their growing up can leave fathers feeling a sense of all-consuming guilt. This can be made worse if their offspring tell them of times in their childhood they were unhappy, felt let down or had something negative occur. The instinct for a father is to protect his offspring, and not being there for their children in their time of need can leave unresolved guilt. A DNA test may bring joy for some, but it can leave a minefield of emotions for others.

Uncover the Truth

For some men who have their own family, they may feel it necessary to keep the DNA test results a secret. But keeping a grown-up child a secret from your family can simply increase the feelings of guilt – especially if that child was a result of an extra-marital affair. One recent story highlighted how easy it is for children to track down their true fathers. The father had an affair and impregnated his lover, she then married and the couple brought up the son as their own and had two more children. But during a blazing row with the boy’s stepfather the truth came out. As a result the boy, then in his twenties, tracked down his father and had a paternity test.

Psychological Fall Out

For the father, he felt nothing but guilt but feared the revelation would destroy his family so kept it under wraps. Initially, he was in complete denial but a paternity test meant he couldn’t ignore the facts. He faced up to the shock after seeing a photo of his son and realised that even without a paternity DNA test, he was clearly his. Now father and son meet occasionally in secret and in fear, and as well as guilt on the father’s side, the son feels residual resentment. Clinical psychologists argue that anyone who discovers a biological relationship as a result of a DNA test should be honest and open about their expectations and emotions in order to build a healthy relationship. Keeping a paternity test secret and furtive can result in quite a lot of psychological damage for both parties.