For No Eyes Only
In a live chat, Prudie advises the sister of an underage girl making sex tapes with her boyfriend.
A: Right, good point. She needs to make sure all existing evidence in all media is deleted. If the boyfriend won't cooperate, then a parental discussion about the consequences of disseminating sexual images of a minor might be highly instructive.
Q. Family Torn Apart by Accusation: Two years ago, one of my older sisters, "Jenny," moved to a state across the country. She is married and has a 2-year-old son, "Todd," so my mother would frequently go out to visit, staying at her house for a week or so. About three months ago, Jenny called me after one of these visits and said her husband, "Chris," had seen our mother molesting Todd. She also said that earlier in the week, Todd became very clingy and told Jenny he was "scared of grandmama." Our mother has a history of inappropriate behavior (including several arrests for shoplifting), and touched me inappropriately when I was very young. Despite my urgings, Jenny has always let her around Todd. Now, our family has truly been ripped apart. Jenny cut off communication with our mother but still talks to our father, and while my other two sisters have not stopped talking to Jenny, they don't believe our mother actually molested Todd (even though they both know about what happened when I was a kid). They have never liked Chris and think he is a liar. I'm confused by so many things and just don't know what to do. Jenny refuses to see a counselor or take Todd to one. In the last couple weeks, she has been wavering on whether or not to reconcile, which makes me furious. It also makes me wonder if she too is questioning Chris' story, or if my father's pleas are just making her feel guilty. Please give me advice. It's getting harder and harder to maintain all of my family relationships (and my sanity).
A: If there is evidence, as there appears to be, that your mother is molesting her grandson, I can't imagine what else needs to be said to convince your sister that your mother must never, ever be alone with him and that her visiting privileges must be revoked. Moving away from the viper's den of your family sounds like a good move for Jenny, and she needs to stop being manipulated by your father and the other siblings. Jenny is being hectored on all sides, so if you take a more neutral tone and become a sounding board for her, you have a better chance of convincing her that the safety of her son is of paramount importance. Perhaps you could tell Jenny you'd also like to talk to her husband Chris about this, if that's all right with her. Maybe you can enlist Chris in encouraging his wife to create some barriers against all the sickness.
Q. Girlfriend Trust: My girlfriend of two years, with whom I have the perfect relationship, searched through my old emails and chat messages (for an unknown reason and without provocation). While I've never cheated on her, she did find conversations I had with friends during our courtship that are understandably very upsetting to her. It wasn't "love at first sight" for me, so she uncovered instances of me saying things like, "She's nice and all, but I think I want to play the field more," or, "It's clear that she likes me a lot more than I like her." She also found out that I casually dated other women concurrently with her (only in the beginning, of course). Though I was unsure at first, our relationship has blossomed, and I'm head-over-heels in love with her and know I want to marry her when we're ready. I feel horrible that she saw those things I said, but they no longer apply. She now feels insecure and mad at herself for "being so naive" about the early stages of our relationship. Prudie, how do I convince her that she's the girl I love and want to be with forever? I'm not even mad that she went through my emails. Other than this hiccup, we're the perfect couple. I know she feels the same way about me. Thank you.
A: No relationship is perfect. For evidence, let's look at yours. Despite your avowal of perfection, your girlfriend, unprovoked, went through two years of your personal history to search for evidence of your bad behavior. She didn't find any, but she did find confirmation of what she should have known already: that your relationship grew slowly at first, then blossomed into something wonderful. Now she's sullied it. It sounds as if you are so invested in maintaining the pretense of perfection that you're afraid to confront her over her serious violation. You don't need to convince her of anything—you need to tell her that you are hurt and taken aback that she would go snooping. You also have been put in the untenable situation of defending your completely natural behavior as your relationship was getting started. Stop being defensive, and ask her to explain what she's done.
Q. Follow Up on Hiring My Husband's Affair Partner: I wrote to you a few weeks ago because my husband's affair partner applied for a job at my company, and I would have been responsible for hiring her. I decided not to call her for an interview because I could never have worked with her. She applied to another position in a different department, one that works closely with mine. My counterpart in that department decided to bring her in for an interview, which apparently she did very well in. Now my counterpart has asked me to sit in on the next interview in the hiring process. Three people from various departments would interview her to see if she fits with the company. Again I'm at a loss as to what I should do. I want to expose this woman but don't think it'd be professional. I would love more advice.
A: I recall your letter well, and I'm sure you'll recall that the overwhelming consensus in the comments was for you following the path you did, which was not interviewing her because you couldn't work with her. You still can't work with her, and if you would have to if she was in a department close to yours, that would be a problem. You can say to your counterpart that she applied to your department and you didn't call her in because of a serious conflict, the details of which you'd rather not go into. Explain that you are aware of some character and judgment flaws (after all, she behaved abominably) and that you simply can't be on an interview panel. If pressed, you might have to spill the beans, but be aware, even if you ask to have that information kept private, it might get out. There are lots of companies out there and there's no reason for you to give her any help working at yours.
Q. Abusive Grandma: It sounds like the LW doesn't want to rock the boat, but the most important people in the equation are the children involved. The LW should call 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) and get advice on how to proceed. The grandmother is a predator and needs professional help. It's not enough just to keep her away from Todd—what about other children she may come in contact with?
A: Thanks, good advice. But if everyone is closing ranks around Grandma, including possibly Todd's mother, it's going to be very hard to get her into treatment.
Q. Molestation: Not sure you have to do it this second, but maybe the police should be involved if the child's mother won't act? I realize this could cause even more upset, but this child's life is at stake. If she won't keep him away, if you think it's true and if Grandma has a history, it's really important that above all else, that kid be protected.