Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
April 15 2004 8:28 AM

All in the Family

Giving new meaning to the term "sugar daddy."

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Get "Dear Prudence" delivered to your inbox each week; click here to sign up. Please send your questions for publication to prudence@slate.com. (Questions may be edited.)





Dear Prudie,

Through electronic spying, my siblings and I discovered our 80-year-old stepfather is having an incestuous relationship with his 60-year-old daughter (from a previous marriage). We also found out that the daughter believes my stepfather is a millionaire (he isn't) and has altered his will to leave everything to her. My stepfather visits his daughter every weekend, where they have sex with each other and other swingers take pictures and actually post them in online photo albums. Our mother now knows about this and has decided not to confront him, as she is afraid that in the ensuing mess she will lose everything (house, stocks, etc.) to him and lawyers. My siblings and I don't know whether to respect our mother's decision or take matters into our own hands. While Mom is by no means feebleminded, we feel that she is refusing to divorce this man out of fear and that it is our moral duty to step in and make this decision for her. On the other hand, our spouses all say we should respect our mother's decision and let the matter drop. Is this the grossest thing you have ever heard? Sorry for this sick story, but you tend to give the best, most levelheaded advice, so that's why I am asking for your help.

—Disgusted Beyond Belief

Dear Dis,

Thank you for your confidence, and yes, on the gross-out scale, your situation is right up there. It does boggle the mind to know that, somewhere, there is an 80-year-old swinger in a taboo relationship ... with photographic keepsakes, no less. It sounds from your letter like the daughter/sex partner might have altered the will, which, if true, is clearly felonious. If your mother is of sound mind and the only thing preventing her from ending the marriage is fear of financial ruin, you might arrange a meeting between her and a lawyer for an informational consultation. There is nothing you can do without her consent—unless you were to challenge her mental capacity and prevail—so you have to respect her decision; either that or you must have her declared non compos. And while we're on the subject, there is the distinct possibility that the superannuated porn star is the one who is no longer mentally sound.

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—Prudie, flabbergastedly

Dear Prudence,

I am a 17-year-old female high-school student. A teacher recently told me he has a crush on me. He is 10 years older, and I think he's having trouble with his marriage and wants attention. His class is my favorite subject, and while I previously enjoyed discussing the subject with him outside of class, I now feel as if my comfort as a student has been compromised. I told one trusted friend about the situation, one who will not gossip but will tell an authority figure if anything happens to me. I have stopped talking to the teacher outside of class, even though I wish I could discuss the subject because it interests me so much. But what to do now? Should I tell someone else? The teacher has not mentioned it since and has not hit on me. I realize that teachers are human beings, but I think he was in the wrong for telling me how he felt. Thanks for any advice you can give me; I'm still just a little startled by it all.

—Uncomfortable

Dear Un,

This man seriously stepped over the line. That he hasn't repeated his ill-conceived declaration means that he realized he'd done something wrong. You are correct that you should not engage with him outside of class, no matter how "interesting" you find the subject. There is no need to tell anyone else right now, but should he make his feelings known to you again, then you tell him he's way out of line ... at which point you tell an adult at school. If you think he has transferred his attentions to another girl, then you should tell an adult NOW. Although you might fear getting him in trouble, he is clearly in the wrong and deserves no protection.

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—Prudie, traditionally

Dear Prudie,

I would like to get your opinion on lap dances. I am in a long-term, committed relationship with a wonderful, giving, extremely loving man. Recently a friend bought him a lap dance on guy's night out before a wedding. He doesn't particularly like strip clubs and doesn't frequent them, but we are in disagreement about the harm a lap dance does to a relationship. He doesn't see it as a problem when it's not a regular occurrence and it never goes any further; but from my side (maybe naive), I never thought that a man who was crazy about me would get a lap dance. Am I being a prude? And where did this tradition of strippers at bachelor parties start in the first place? What's the deal with celebrating finding your soul mate by getting a naked girl to sit on your lap?

—Strait-Laced or Normal?

Dear Strait,

Happily, Prudie didn't need to HAVE an opinion about lap dances until recently. Then the letters started to come. Let's put it this way: Your wonderful, giving, extremely loving man might not permit a lap dance to lead to anything else, but Prudie's (admittedly) female point of view is that first-rate men in committed relationships do not offer their laps—or anything else—to strange naked ladies in bars or "clubs." It is no less a sexual encounter just because there is fabric between them—maybe. (And the activity isn't "dancing," either.) Regarding the origin of bachelor parties, one would assume the custom began when male friends of the groom decided to celebrate his last night of "freedom." It most likely evolved from a men-only party to sanctioned fooling around when society's mores loosened up. Prudie remembers when a girl jumping out of a cake was considered risqué. Now it seems quaint.

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—Prudie, conservatively

Dear Prudence,

I have asked for a divorce from my husband because of his repeated affairs and lack of good husband qualities. I refuse to have sex because I don't feel anything toward him anymore. I told him this. It's been this way for two years already, but he will not let me divorce him without being vindictive. He threatens that if I divorce him, he'll take my kids away from me, and I won't see them anymore. I am unemployed and not financially able to support my children. Because of this, my kids may be awarded to him. Because of this, I feel that I am forced to stay married, but it is making me miserable. My friends and family are divided in helping me make a decision. What should I do? I don't have a boyfriend or a lover. I just want to be away from my husband. (He does not physically abuse me, though.)

—Miserable Wife

Dear Miz,

A woman does not have to be smacked around to end her marriage, and custody is not determined by which parent has the most money. Child support, as well as alimony, are established by different criteria—including who HAS been supporting the children and who has the ability to earn and pay. Don't feel intimidated by the bullying threats; chances are that by standing up to your husband, you will defuse the situation. Seek the advice of an attorney about how to separate from him—perhaps even Legal Aid or a similar free service. Your local Bar Association can put you in touch with a volunteer lawyers' group or a law school clinic. Until all this gets straightened out, you will probably need to turn to supportive family for financial help. Good luck.

—Prudie, forwardly