Help! I Discovered My Mother-in-Law Breast-Feeding My Baby.

Advice on manners and morals.
July 9 2012 3:18 PM

A Breast Too Far

In a live chat, Prudie advises a woman who discovered her mother-in-law suckling her newborn son.

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A: Good idea. The authorities at the school should be alerted to this awful situation and should be ready to help extract the boy from his home. Sadly, I agree with you about mom.

Q. Overreacting: Forgive and Forget?: Last week I visited my sister and met her boyfriend for the first time. One night we went to a party, and my sister's boyfriend drank too much. He saw my sister and I talking with one of their male friends, and he decided that my sister and the male friend were flirting. His response was to pour his full cup of beer on my sister's head. Then he stormed off, so my sister and I had to find a ride home. My sister forgave her boyfriend quickly and has forbidden me of speaking about the "beer pour" to anyone we know. Her boyfriend isn't remorseful, but she still seems to think this was an "out of character" reaction. I am uncomfortable because they're both coming to visit my family in August. I don't know if I should tell my parents what happened, because my sister would get in trouble for taking me to a party where alcohol was being served; I'm underage. Should I just drop this?

A: The issue is not your being around where alcohol was served, it's where that alcohol went. Your sister couldn't prevent her creep of a boyfriend from dousing her with beer; neither can she prevent you from telling your parents this alarming story. Your sister is involved with someone with an anger, jealousy, and impulse-control problem. That is important news and your parents should be made aware of this. If your sister is a young adult, there may be nothing they can do, but they can have a sympathetic talk expressing their concern and emphasizing that being abused is never OK. In the short term this might only drive her further into her boyfriend's arms, but it's possible another part of her will hear this important message.

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Q. I Married My High-School Teacher: I'm a 34-year-old woman who recently married a wonderful 43-year-old man. The age difference doesn't raise so many eyebrows as does the circumstance of how we met. When I was in high school, my husband was my teacher. I had a little crush on him, but he was just my teacher, I dated boys my age, and moved away for college. When I came back to our small town, we continued to run into each other every now and then. He also moved away briefly for work before returning two years ago to be near his elderly parents. That's when we began a romantic relationship and ended up married. We're obviously very happy, but a lot of people have made inappropriate remarks or jokes about a former teacher and student now married to each other. My husband was never attracted to me as a student. He didn't even see me as a potential romantic partner until just before we got together. But in light of some media events involving teacher-student illicit relationships, we feel like we have to defend our relationship to others. One of his friends even said "I didn't know you were a pedophile." It was meant to be a joke, but I think it's appalling. What can we say to these people?

A: If a man in his 40s marries a woman in her 30s, calling him a pedophile is obviously is meant as a joke. You may think it's a poor one, or in bad taste, but the best way to brush off the unwanted commentary on your union is to laugh off these observations. Given the drumbeat of news about teachers being prosecuted for sexual relationships with students, it's inevitable that you two are going to get some curiosity and some attempts at comedy. But your story is lovely and charming, so laughing away the remarks is the best route to ending them. If you get huffy and defensive you will only get people wondering if your husband was doing some inappropriate tutoring long ago when you were his student.

Q. Re: Violent Homophobic Jokes: I am absolutely surprised at your answer to this young woman. Her brother came out to her because he is in fear for his life. After all, how do you know pack mentality won't set in on one of their drinking binges and they’ll do something to hurt this young boy? She needs to immediately get CPS involved before something does happen to her brother. He made threats about his OWN child of drowning him or raping her if that child was gay. What makes you think he would not do something to this other child. Very disappointed in your answer!

A: Thanks for this clarification! I mistakenly read over the word "out" in the sentence, "He came out to me then and told me ..." I just read it as the brother coming to her and crying about the awful situation. Lesson: Every word counts. And this word makes this situation much more drastic and alarming. I agree big sister needs to call CPS and say her brother is gay and has a new stepfather who has threatened violence against gay people. There needs to be a shake-up in this living situation right now. And this entire family needs to be monitored. What a shameful excuse of a mother.

Q. Re: Marrying Your Teacher: I'm the same age as the original poster and my parents (who are now approaching their 40th anniversary) are professor/student. Yes, times are different but your kids and others will eventually find the story endearing.

A: Thanks for this note. I agree that it's only for the good that there are rules to prevent teachers sexually taking advantage of students. But I hope that doesn't prevent college love stories such as your parents'.

Q. Sexual Molestation: Dear Prudie, I have been married for five years. A year into our marriage, it was discovered that my FIL had recently admitted to molesting my SIL when she was a preteen. My husband also recalls finding a pornographic picture of a young girl about the same time (when he was in high school) on his father’s computer. My SIL and the rest of the family has decided to "forgive and forget" the whole situation and requested the rest of the family do the same. For the last four years I have tried my hardest to maintain a pleasant and respectful relationship with all of my in-laws despite my disgust. Now my husband and I are expecting our first child, a boy. I tried my hardest to move past my FIL's "indiscretions," as the family calls them, since he has been such a great father otherwise, but I just cannot forget this situation! I have told my husband I do not have any interest in having my child around an admitted child predator. My husband thinks I am being highly unreasonable. There are no other children in all of the extended family so we are the first to have to deal with this. Am I being unreasonable?

A: Hey, what's a little molestation of your own child when you did such a good job of cheering her from the sidelines at her soccer games? Disgust is the right emotion in reaction to this criminal cover-up. Your poor sister-in-law, who for the sake of family peace is being emotionally manipulated to keep quiet. You know your father-in-law is a child molester, and even if he is only interested in little girls you should never let your son be alone with him. But sadly, if you insist on completely cutting him out of your child's life, that will mean cutting your husband off from his entire enabling family. I think you two should talk this out with a counselor who can help you sort through how to proceed so that you feel your child is safe and that your husband, at the least, recognizes the risks of children being around his father. If your sister-in-law refuses to report her father, there's not much anyone can do. But if he was willing to molest his own daughter, isn't it likely there are other victims?

Q. Re: Newfound Heritage: That's wonderful that you embrace your newfound heritage. Having said that, you go overboard with the fact you embrace it. You mention it twice in one short paragraph. Point made: You are not bigoted. If you are even half as enthused when talking to your sisters, I can see why they would stop wanting to take your calls. Yes, it's a difference. It is not something that need be earth-shattering. Being so exuberant about a subject (any subject) can get very off-putting very quickly. (I also wonder if the letter writer has been lecturing them on the Importance of this find, and how they all need to Discuss it and come to Terms with it. No one likes to be preached to about how they should react to something.)