DEAR AMY: There is a 31-year-old woman who has been a part of our family since she was a teenager. She and my kids grew up together and they are still good friends. Her parents are good friends of my wife and me. She is Phi Beta Kappa and graduated magna cum laude from a good college. She has a post-graduate degree from a very prestigious university. She is in a job she’s had for eight years. She currently makes more than $80,000 a year, and is extremely secure. By an absolutely bizarre twist of fate, I just found out she has been acting in hardcore pornographic videos for the last year, distributed by one of (what I understand is) the biggest production companies in that business. There were 10 pages of her videos when I Googled her stage name. I am in shock. I am so afraid for her future if her employer, or someone else, makes the same discovery. What should I do? She’s an adult and is free to make her choices, but if someone makes the connection, in this internet-fueled world, it will follow her for the rest of her life. I’m afraid she’ll lose her job and never be taken seriously as a professional again. I’m afraid for her health and safety. I have not talked to anyone about this. Who, if anybody, should I tell? Should I just shut up and let the chips fall where they may? We all love this girl very much, and I’m heartsick. What is the right thing to do?
DEAR FRIEND: You should raise your concerns directly to the woman at the heart of this — not with her parents or other people. Let her know exactly what you have become aware of, voice your opinion and worries and try to do so without judgment.
Don’t attach too strongly to her reaction — whatever it might be — and then drop it, unless, of course, you think that she is in physical danger. I assume there are physical and health risks to what she is doing, but you will have to gauge on your own if these risks merit any attempted intervention from you. Her employment, reputation and ethical choices regarding this side career of hers — are all her (not your) business.
DEAR AMY: My mom and I have always had a strained relationship, but I try to be nice because my younger siblings still live in her house. I recently got married. We invited her to our small ceremony, hoping we could all just get along. She arrived late and then ended up causing a huge scene and storming out in the middle of dinner because she didn’t get to sit where she wanted. Now my husband and I are planning our reception for family and friends, and have chosen not to invite her, due to her behavior at the wedding. She’s gotten really angry about this and is now refusing to let me communicate with my younger siblings. I’m really not sure what to do. I want to have a relationship with my siblings, but I don’t want to give into her and risk her ruining my reception, like she did my wedding. What do you think would be the best way to navigate this situation?
DEAR FRUSTRATED: Your mother is already more or less “ruining” your reception, because she (presumably) won’t let your siblings attend unless she attends.
You don’t say how young your siblings are, but you will have to perform this tough dance until they are out from under your mother’s control. As challenging as your mother is for you to handle from a distance — they have to live with her.
I believe you are making the right choice regarding your wedding, because she is a bully, and you have decided to draw the line. She punishes you when she doesn’t get what she wants, so strap in, be strong and continue to deliver proportional consequences.
I think you should calmly ignore her restrictions regarding your siblings, and do your best to keep in touch with them through technology, but also being brave enough to knock on the door.
DEAR AMY: I appreciated your answer to “Wondering,” who wanted some direction on what gift to give triplet siblings who were graduating from high school. Giving money equal to the graduation year ($20.18) is clever, but given your literacy efforts, I’m surprised you didn’t suggest a book!
DEAR SURPRISED: Here’s one I like: “Congratulations, by the way: Some Thoughts on Kindness,” by George Saunders (2014, Random House).