Advice on manners and morals.

Advice on manners and morals.

Advice on manners and morals.

Advice on manners and morals.
Jan. 19 2006 6:13 AM

Meet My Niece, Lolita

When your partner's relative wants to take your place.

9_dearprudence_01

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Dear Prudence,
I have been with my wonderful boyfriend for two years. I have good expectations as to the direction our relationship will go. My problem is not with him, but his 6-year-old niece. I believe the little girl has a crush on him. My reason for thinking this? She is extremely rude to me. I have been informed by her that I have a "huge bum," I smell bad, that I'm an "idiot" ... I'm sure you get the picture. I have ignored the insults and name-calling for some time now; she is, after all, a child. But now things have progressed. On a recent outing I was repeatedly shoved aside by this kid, who, while shoving, loudly proclaimed that it would be she, not me, holding his hand. When it came time to be seated at a restaurant, she gave me a shove and loudly declared that she would sit next to him, not me. Suggestions by her parents that he sit in the middle were ignored. There were comments made to my boyfriend by the kid that later in the evening he should bring me home and come back by himself! He finally made the astute observation that he thinks she gets jealous when I am around. Well, duh. We agreed that he would talk to his sister about the problem. Her answer was that I need to "develop a thicker skin." My boyfriend thinks talking to his niece will embarrass her, because "she is only 6 and does not know what she is doing." Help!

—Sick of Dealing With It

Dear Sick,
The 6-year-old sexpot knows exactly what she is doing. This child not only needs a parent to lower the boom, but a therapist, as well. Any 6-year-old kid with a crush on an uncle is unusual enough, but shoving, along with announcements that it should be she, not you, as the "date" is kinda creepy and in no way age-appropriate. Someone in that family is going to have to deal with this soon or they will have a lot worse to deal with in just a few years. Tell your boyfriend that until someone gets hold of this situation, you choose not to be anywhere near this mouthy little horror.

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—Prudie, unwaveringly

Pru,
It seems I've committed the sin that befalls so many wives: I snooped. I saw a folder in my husband's e-mail account labeled with a female name (an acquaintance of mine) and I let my curiosity overcome me. The typical story of snooping follows. I would've been much happier being ignorant about the information this folder contained. The e-mails are in no way subtle; they talk blatantly of sex. Not of having it, mind you, but of wanting it (very badly) with each other. These e-mails are dated when my husband and I were engaged. This was almost a year ago, and I do not believe they are continuing in this manner any longer. However, I do not understand why my husband would keep such incriminating e-mails. Should I bring the matter up with him?

—Remorseful Snoop

Dear Re,
If you and your husband communicate well, you might ask about the timing of the steamy e-mails ... but then be prepared to defend your prying. As to why they are still there, Prudie doesn't know about you, but there are tons of outdated files on old Pru's computer. If you are able to put your questions and concerns aside and gauge his actual behavior—now—do that, and move on. Because you sign yourself "remorseful," let your penance for snooping be to say nothing and go forth and snoop no more.

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—Prudie, reparationally

Dear Prudence,
Some time ago, I met what I thought was a wonderful man ... attentive, courteous, well-established, self-sufficient, and extremely attractive. He is from the same country that I am from, and we have carried on our courtship in our motherland as well as different places in the United States. He would e-mail me often and we spoke on the phone, as well. I got to meet part of his family, his staff, friends, and clients, and he would share with me top-secret stuff about his work. But just yesterday, one of my friends was leafing through a year-old magazine and found a picture of him with what we are sure is his wife. He never told me he was married, and I am horrified that he made me a part of something so despicable as an affair. Had I known this, I would have never had anything to do with him. Even more disheartening is that it's possible it will be found out, and our respectable family name will be dragged through the mud in our country. I believe I deserve an explanation, but don't know how to go about getting it. My first impulse is to lash out in a harsh manner, but I don't think that's the best way to do it. And if he is recently divorced, why did he not tell me?

—Hurt and Confused

Dear Hurt,
A good way to get an explanation is to ask for one. Typically, people in a romance disclose details like whether there are ex-spouses, or soon-to-be exes. The rats, however, omit information about current ones. This may be one bit of top-secret information he kept to himself. Your inamorato may have a perfectly legitimate explanation for the magazine picture, but Prudie doubts it.

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—Prudie, straightforwardly

Dear Prudence,
I don't know where to turn or what to think. While getting my father ready for a nursing home, my older sister and I helped our mother clean out the house. Most of the papers made their way to my house. I read some letters my dad sent my mom, and now I don't know which end is up. Sis and I were always told that she was premature, having been born seven months after my parents' marriage. That may not be true. If it isn't, that's no big deal by today's standards and we couldn't care less, but understand why they might want to hide it. However ... my father speaks of "the baby" and doing "what is best for her." My parents, being of different races, were going to face many hardships in their relationship, and biracial children in the early '60s had a hard time. If this is what happened, do my sister and I have a right (obligation?) to look for our missing sister? This would be a full sibling, which could possibly give my sons cousins, and me nieces or nephews, something I sorely miss. My mind says it was before my time and not my decision, but my heart aches for a sister I will likely never know. How do I reconcile all this?

—Still the Youngest

Dear Still,
If your father is of an age to go into a nursing home, your parents are elderly. The meaning of "doing what is best for the baby" is hard to know without asking your mother. Prudie thinks you ought to respect your parents' wish to keep the secret. It seems highly unlikely that you would even be able to locate this person, were she actually the first child. If such a person were to find you, that would be a different story. Do your mother a kindness and don't bring up a piece of the past she obviously wished that you not know about.

—Prudie, discreetly