Help! My Daughter Is in Love With My Son’s Boyfriend.

Advice on manners and morals.
Jan. 2 2014 6:00 AM

Family's Guy

My daughter is in love with my son’s boyfriend.

Emily Yoffe.
Emily Yoffe

Photo by Teresa Castracane.

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Dear Prudence,
My wife and I have two wonderful children, "Rebekah" and "Robbie." They have always been close and share many of the same friends. Both are living at home while attending a local college. Rebekah is very popular and has many platonic male friends, but she has developed a real crush on a young man in her class, "Jason.” Recently, my wife and I returned home after a night out, and I went to check on Robbie who has a room in the basement. I was startled to find him and Jason lying on his bed, kissing and undressing each other. I was not seen and left quietly. My wife told me that Rebekah was asleep in her bedroom upstairs, and I muttered to my wife that Robbie was home. A few days later I returned home early to the sounds of two men having sex in the basement. I got into my car and took a long drive. When I got back, Rebekah had just arrived and she and Robbie and Jason were in the kitchen fixing a snack. I love my son and will always support him, but there are several issues. First, my wife will be unhappy to learn our son is gay. Robbie is an adult and it's not my place to tell her, but she will eventually find out. Also, we do not tolerate sexual activity in the house, regardless of sexual orientation, so there can't be a double standard with Robbie. I will have to tell him, and he will know that I know. Most important, I fear Rebekah will be hurt, and I don't want this development to damage the close relationship she and her brother have always had. What should I do?

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—Confused Dad

Dear Confused,
How the world has changed when it’s possible that Jason could one day be your son-in-law, despite his total lack of interest in your daughter. Anyone who’s ever had both a basement and teenagers should know that the most innocent walk down those steps could mean stumbling upon scenes of naked writhing. I don’t know what kind of marriage you have, but most husbands having seen their son in flagrante with another, male or female, would be moved to say to their fellow parent something like, “Honey, Robbie is home, and I have some news about how he’s entertaining his guest.” It is your place to tell your wife, and I think the two of you need to let Robbie know that you know. For help in dealing with all this, contact PFLAG, which gives invaluable support to parents with gay children. As for your decree that your college-age children not engage in sexual relations in your home, you’re saving a boatload of money by not having them live at college. But if they were in a dorm, you would have no control over their sexual escapades. Your kids are actually young adults, and I think you need to rethink this rule. Finally, let’s hope Rebekah is sturdy enough not to be crushed when she finds out why her crush never made a move, and that she will be accepting on discovering she’s simply not his type. It’s probably been quite confusing for her to see that Jason loves hanging out at her home, but all his lingering glances appear to be directed to Robbie. Alternately, perhaps Rebekah knows exactly what’s up, and she’s agreed to engage in a cover story to keep her parents from the truth.

—Prudie

Dear Prudence Classic: Torn Apart by an iPad

Dear Prudence,
Over the holiday our family spent time with my husband's brother. My brother-in-law has long been known to have undiagnosed mental problems—he is paranoid and delusional. On this visit he cornered whomever he could to blather about why the apocalypse is coming, and about socialism and the Federal Reserve. He also constantly wore a fanny pack. I tried to keep our young children away from him. On our drive home, my husband told me that his brother has been given a permit to carry a concealed weapon. It turns out there was a handgun in his fanny pack, and he took the gun across many state lines. I am beside myself. He is exactly the man who shouldn't have a firearm. My husband said the church his family attends promotes paranoia and gun-toting. My husband did speak to his parents about this, explaining that his brother’s carrying a loaded weapon was a recipe for disaster and that his paranoid tirades were a sign that his brother needed help. His mother defended him “exercising his rights.” This scenario seems to be a tragic accident waiting to happen. We aren’t going to see the brother-in-law again for a long time, but should we be contacting some public health officials?

—Gun Shy

Dear Gun Shy,
Whether one considers our lax gun laws insane or not, I wish everyone could agree that firearms and mental illness do not mix. Unfortunately, as this highly disturbing New York Times investigation shows, our laws concerning mental illness and gun ownership are an ineffectual morass that rarely results in permanent firearm confiscation. Studies show that the mentally ill who adhere to treatment are unlikely to be dangerous, but the same can’t be said for the unmedicated and undiagnosed mentally ill, especially those suffering from paranoia. But your husband’s whole family embraces a collective delusion that his ranting is an indication of his perspicuity. I agree with Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus when she wrote that Adam Lanza’s mother, his first victim, enabled his crimes by purchasing the arsenal for her disturbed son. I hope your husband uses what influence he has to get his brother to a doctor. Your husband could let the rest of your family know that he doesn’t want his children around firearms, so that future visits may be in jeopardy if the brother continues to show up carrying a weapon. He can also make the case that with help his brother can lead a happier and more productive life. But in the absence of the brother coming to the attention of the criminal justice system, things will probably continue as they are. I think your husband should call the authorities in the state where his brother lives and explain why he thinks his brother should not have a concealed carry permit or even any firearms. Be prepared that nothing will change.

—Prudie

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