My daughter's husband is from a very strange family. His father sexually abused my son-in-law's older sister when she was young.
His father and mother hid this for years, until the daughter (now an adult, recovering from a very dangerous lifestyle) initiated charges.
The father then pleaded guilty to a reduced charge, and served one year of house arrest. Because of a change in venue and a publication ban, the parents managed to keep this secret.
My son-in-law was told partial details, never the whole story. Now that they have a child and, coincidentally, discovered the whole story, my daughter wants her husband to cut ties with his parents.
He says that he still loves them and will distance them, but won't cut them out of his life. I don't want to interfere, but I completely agree with my daughter. What do you think?
Stick with “don’t interfere.” Instead, encourage your daughter to think through how to protect her child without his having to cut his ties.
She should not require him to never see them again. If she backs off, he may, now that he knows the story and if he talks to his sister, actually come to that conclusion himself.
But it shouldn’t be enforced by his wife.
The child should never be alone with a convicted sexual abuser. Nor should her husband build a relationship between his child and his parents, since it could lead to worry, suspicions, misinformation, even worse.
My girlfriend cheated on me with a few different guys some months ago, which I discovered.
These guys were the only people she’d hang out with since we went to a small high school and she had a falling-out with other girls.
She’d previously been cheating with one of her best friends who’d been sending her sexual innuendos.
This strained our relationship from the beginning. After I left for school, we fought over her talking to that friend and I came home to discuss it. That weekend she cheated on me with three different guys.
We stopped talking for several months until I learned she’d been in rehab for severe depression and anxiety.
She said she’d changed and wanted me back. I forgave her but she had to not talk to those guys.
She’s now accusing me of isolating her from her friends. She wants to go to parties with them.
I said I’d be forced to leave her. Is this fair? She’s saying she doesn’t know what she wants, like she’s going to choose them over me again.
She’s not ready to be a loyal girlfriend, not to you or those guys. She’s troubled, and neither you nor any of them can “fix” whatever’s the root of her depression and anxiety.
She needs professional help. You’re living too far away and both too young to expect to limit her behaviour with ultimatums and monitoring.
Tell her that you care for her greatly and are showing it by urging her to get back to medical and counselling help.
Be kind and firm when explaining this, without focusing on her cheating.
Say that you’ll continue to be her friend (IF you can handle that). But stress that the relationship can’t go on. It’s too urgent that she works at healing whatever’s troubling her enough to behave out of control.
Treatment’s essential for her to learn to handle her own life, as well as any committed relationships in the future.
FEEDBACK Regarding others’ experiences with addicted family members (Jan. 13):
Reader – “My sister drew the line at abusive behaviour, telling her daughter’s boyfriend - then even her daughter - to leave her house.
“My niece was adopted, and had developmental and behavioural problems while growing up, but also the benefit of a loving, supportive home.
“As an adult, she’s spent time in treatment centres that sheltered residents from previous bad relationships and influences, to teach life skills, but she was eventually kicked out.
“She receives welfare and is supported in an apartment by my sister. Her two babies were removed from her care. My sister fosters these two grandchildren.
“I admire my sister’s strength to support her daughter, learn the limits of what she could do to help, and seek people with real skills and objectivity for treatment.
“I also admire her gaining the strength to say No.”
Tip of the day:
No child should be left alone with a proven child sex abuser nor anyone who kept it secret.