DEAR AMY: I am a 16-year-old girl in high school. I met a guy through a church event six months ago. We started talking, and then a month later he came to my house to hang out during the weekend. His uncle was with him when he came over, and met my mom. I started dating the guy, and my mom started dating my boyfriend's uncle! Now my mom is going to marry his uncle, a person she's only known for four months. I plan on being with my boyfriend and marrying him; I truly love him. Since my mom is marrying his uncle that would make my boyfriend and me cousins by marriage. It is not legal where I live to marry my cousin. What should I do?
DEAR CONFUSED: Let's clear this up: First of all, even though (according to a report from the Journal of Genetic Counseling) there is an extremely small genetic risk to marrying a biological cousin, various states still have somewhat antiquated laws on the books discouraging unions between first cousins. There is still something of a taboo regarding marrying cousins.
However, you and this boyfriend of yours are not — and never will be — biological cousins. So — your cousin-problem is not a problem. There is no biological risk, and it is not illegal to marry.
I do believe that you should continue to behave as if it is illegal, however. I only wish there were laws preventing teenagers from making huge decisions (marrying, having children) that will impact the rest of their lives in such profound ways.
Here is my advice to you moving forward:
Finish high school. Set out individual and personal goals (college, career, creative fulfillment), and do your very best to meet these goals.
Your reaction to this domestic awkwardness is to over-dramatize it and see it only through your own somewhat narrow lens. This tells me that you are a completely normal 16-year-old.
You are distressed by your mother's bold and premature choice, but you are doing the same thing. Of course, you can't control what your mother does, but you can take charge of your own life.
Enjoy this first love. But shelve all plans to marry until you are much older and know more clearly who you are and what you really want.
DEAR AMY: I am the oldest of three (the only daughter). My dad has died, and my mom insists on having her own funeral service at "The Smith Funeral Home." This is a place that I would rather not give our business to. My closest childhood friend is a funeral director at another funeral home and I would like to utilize her services, instead. My mother's reason is that we have buried our grandparents and my dad from The Smith Funeral Home. My father also did business with them when he was alive. Amy, I think my family has given them enough of our business. Do I go with my mother's last wishes? If I do, it will upset my friend and I am sure some people will wonder why I wouldn't choose her funeral establishment. My mother is very stubborn and there is no talking to her about anything. Believe me, I get the bulk of her nastiness since her health is giving her issues. My brothers could not care less. They leave me to do everything, and my mom backs them up entirely.
DEAR DAUGHTER: You should carry out your mother's wishes. Your reasons not to do so are very slim, and seem to be entirely based in a friendship you have with the proprietor of a funeral home that is a rival to the one your family has patronized for two generations.
Because your mother is being open with you about her funeral, you should encourage her to plan it, and then you should do your very best to adhere to her plans.
DEAR AMY: I disagree with your advice to "Pete the Pack Rat. I found it very effective to move everything to a storage unit without judging whether things were keepers, giveaways or throwaways. Then I was able to take out a box or two at a time and go through it, breaking the task into achievable pieces. When you are looking at a house full of junk it's too overwhelming. It took several months but the job got done.
DEAR DECLUTTERED: Congratulations to you on tackling this monumental challenge.