Advice on manners and morals (Sept. 18, 2008).

Advice on manners and morals.
Sept. 18 2008 6:54 AM

Brutal Beginning, Happy Ending

How do I tell my daughter she's the result of a sexual assault?

(Continued from Page 1)

—Perplexed Among the Pyramids

Dear Perplexed,
Wouldn't you just love to forward her some financial opportunities you've received by e-mail from Nigeria and tell her if she springs for these ventures, you'll go for hers? Of course she's exploiting your youth and position for her potential personal gain—that's why she's trying to pretend she's avoiding this conflict by pressuring you outside of the office. Your parents are right: Don't go for that coffee with her. Instead, see her at work and politely and firmly say you've thought about her offer and talked about it with your parents. Tell her it's just not for you, and you can't get further involved. If your boss is not experiencing sun stroke from too much time among the pyramids, she'll be smart enough to drop it. If you have a professor who supervises your internship, you could tell him or her what happened and how you handled it. And definitely do so if your boss keeps bringing it up or starts acting hostile.


Dear Prudence,
My mom just remarried last year, and I have a new stepbrother the same age as me—we are both 21. I never really knew him before they got married because he does not live around here. I've seen him a total of five times, and I have never really considered him my stepbrother. The problem is that we have really come to like each other and would like to be in a relationship. We do not think that there is much wrong, since we are not really related, but we know others will think this is wrong. We haven't told anyone yet. If we had met two years ago, this wouldn't have been a problem, but what do we do now?

—Step by Step

Dear Step,
You two don't know yet if you want to be in a relationship; you just know that you want to see if you might possibly want to be in a relationship. You're right, if you'd met two years ago, your attraction would have preceded your parents' trip down the aisle. But now that you are stepsiblings, it doesn't mean that you shouldn't have the chance to date—it does complicate things, though. You're both adults, so even if your families have qualms, they can't stop you. And since you're adults, you don't have to ask their permission to act on your interest. But what you should do is go very slow. Think of this as a Victorian-style courtship. I can't give you a schedule, but put off holding hands, or that first kiss, for many dates. And don't even think of getting into bed until you both agree you're serious and exclusive. If you end up being soul mates, how lucky that your parents have brought you together. If you realize you don't want a romance but just enjoy each other's friendship, terrific. What you want to avoid is ending up with a failed romance and bad feelings, which will get stirred up for decades of Thanksgivings and Christmases to come.


Dear Prudence,
My wife recently left her two-week-old MacBook computer at my sister's house. While I offered to drive the 90 miles to pick it up, my wife and sister agreed to have it mailed via UPS. I warned them both to pack it very, very carefully. My sister stated that through her workplace, it would be insured for $3,000—more than the value. It arrived the next day with a broken screen. The repair cost is $700-plus. When I saw the inadequate box it was shipped in, I was absolutely appalled. Because it wasn't packaged properly, UPS won't honor the claim. Is my sister obligated to pay for the damages? Or is it my wife's fault for allowing it to be shipped? Should we just forget the whole situation and chalk it up to bad judgment? It's causing a huge rift in my family.

—Tech Spouse

Dear Tech,
I don't see how it's your wife's fault. By that logic, the only safe way to get a MacBook to anyone's house is for Steve Jobs to pick it up from the factory and personally deliver it to each customer. If the computer was broken because of improper packaging and your sister promised to take care of the packaging, she should at least offer to pay part of the damages. I assume the rift is over the fact that she's said what happened to the computer after it left her hands is not her responsibility. So, you could seethe for years over everyone's idiocy and endlessly reiterate that if only these women had let you make the drive, none of this would have … blah, blah, blah. Or you could pay for the screen to be fixed, enjoy this delightful piece of technology, and let it go.