Q. Re: Abused Cousin: The injuries could be more serious than she realizes. An untreated wrist fracture can lead to a devastating condition called "avascular necrosis" and fractured ribs can mean internal injuries. You cannot be forced to report abuse (although I hope the cousin would) so seeing a doctor is in no way connected with reporting the incident.
A: Lots of people are saying the cousin should not worry that the doctor will report abuse. So even letting the cousin know this might prompt her to get treatment so that she doesn't suffer from the kind of disaster you describe.
Update: The laws on physicians reporting suspected domestic abuse varies by state, but many states have some sort of mandatory reporting requirements (PDF). While I generally think that's a good thing, it can have the unfortunate consequence, as is the case here, that some women refuse essential treatment in order to protect their abuser.
Q. Re: Married but Financially Separate: I used to work with a couple who did the same thing. He was a class-A jerk. We used to joke that at least the financial ties would be easy to cut when they got a divorce. Then, they had a baby, and they still tried to do the financial half-and-half. It was ridiculous, and the wife resented the heck out of it. I think these people should get into counseling immediately—if he is not willing to see marriage as a partnership when it comes to money, when does he see it that way?
A: Just think about adding a kid to this mix: "You pay for the diapers, I'll pay for the crib." I agree this is no partnership and if he's not willing to address this problem, she should get out. Another reader pointed out that since he pays the bills and she pays the mortgage, she may be getting shafted!
Q. Unmotivated Daughter: Our 17-year-old daughter seems totally uninterested in doing well in school. She's in her first year of nursing studies, and has failed most of her courses. She spends most of her time on the Internet (we've now started to limit her access), and on her cellphone, texting. She pays for the phone (she works every Saturday at a laundry place), so we can't take it away from her. We've tried discussing rationally, expressing our worry for her, and disappointment that she's not living up to her potential. Each time she promises to do more, but then just doesn't. We are at a loss. Please help!
A: I'm not understanding whether your daughter is still in high school and in a special program, or graduated from high school young and is at a nursing school. I'm going to assume the former. Of course this is very frustrating for you, but as you've discovered you simply can't act as a superego for an unmotivated 17-year-old. You need to sit down with the right people at your daughter's school and talk about a plan of action. You need to get everyone on board that flunking out is not an option. It just might be that she is not ready to commit to a career, particularly nursing, and she needs to just follow a standard course of study. If you're not satisfied with the school's counseling, engage an independent person to evaluate and talk with your daughter. She might be more willing to hear from this person about the short- and long-term consequences of not getting a high school diploma. But for your own mental health and the sake of your relationship with your daughter you two need to do some backing off. You want to strike the balance of letting her know you want to help her get herself out of this mess and make good choices, but that she's at the point in life where she is going to have to experience the consequences of her actions. I know some readers will say that you're the parents and if you want to take away the phone, you should. But unless she's in lockdown, she will obtain one on her own and continue to text in defiance.
Dear Prudence: Torn Apart by an iPad
Q. Re: Abused Cousin: OP here. My cousin doesn't know that I know anything about this. The only reason I do know is that my grandmother lives on the same property as my parents and my aunt told my grandmother, who in turn told my mother, who in turn told me. But I get the idea that this is a “secret” among other family members and if I sent my cousin a Facebook message saying, "Maybe you should see a doctor about what your ex-boyfriend did to you ..." it would not go over well AT ALL. My family is fairly dysfunctional and has always been of the Mind Your Own Business mentality. That's why I feel like an anonymous phone call to the police is my only course of action. I can't directly deal with my cousin.
A: I agree, a Facebook message is not the way to go in dealing with an assault. No surprises that the dysfunction is familywide. I agree the police should be called in. But I also reiterate my suggestion to you to call the hotline first because they have experience dealing with victims who don't want to report, etc. They should be able to advise you on possible ways to deal with your cousin and what other agencies (Child Protective Services, maybe) should be alerted.
Q. Re: Stripper. Dropped the ball: The daughter never said she wanted to transition back to a traditional, "satisfying career." By telling her that, the parents ARE continuing to judge her. So what if this isn't a job she will be in for 30 years? Perhaps she is putting enough in savings to travel the world later in life? Not judging her means accepting her TODAY, JUST as she is, without trying to change her—even if they don't approve.
A: I think it's reasonable for parents not to say, "Oh, honey, you must be in such great shape! And what's your favorite color G-string?" Supporting your daughter and not being harsh doesn't mean you can't express your concern about her long-term career prospects and help her think of ways to make that transition.
Q. Brother-in-Law's Affair: Last summer, my sister discovered her husband was cheating on her and had been since before their marriage over eight years ago. He has slept with at least three different women (unprotected). They have one child. They decided to go to counseling to try and work things out. Since that decision, he has not implemented anything that the counselor recommends, and is often too busy to go to counseling appointments. When they decided to try and work things out, I agreed that when I saw my BIL in person, that I would not be mean or angry and I was able to do that. My sister discovered that he has been in contact with more women and found their addresses on his phone and called me late at night having a meltdown. Unfortunately, we had booked a summer vacation with them before all of this came to light. I feel like I gave him a chance and he blew it. I am so angry that I feel like I can't even look at him. I want to cancel the vacation but I'm afraid of hurting my sister. I told her that whatever she does, I'll always support her, but honestly, if they stay together, I don't know if I'll ever forgive him. Am I being selfish? What can I do to get over this?
A: Understand that especially when a child is involved it's very difficult to decide to end a marriage. In your sister's case, I hope she's able to see that it's unlikely he will ever be reformed and if she stays she's tacitly accepting his infidelity. As for your vacation, if she comes with her husband do your best to be polite to him. Since you know, and surely he knows you know, it's fair enough if you pull him aside and say, "Bill, I will do everything possible to make our time together pleasant. But I just wanted to get it on the table that I'm really sad about the pain my sister has been through. I will leave it at that." For the future, if the drama continues, at some point you can say to your sister that she has to start making some difficult decisions, because constantly finding out about new women and losing her mind over it is wrecking her life.
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