DEAR AMY: My husband’s very religious family has serious issues with him being gay. His brother, “Steve,” outed him in high school. He was forced into therapy, cut off financially and put through hell. In the past few years most of his family has started to include both of us in their lives — except for Steve. Steve and his wife live near us, and in the five years I have been with my husband we almost never see them, despite repeated attempts on our part. We live several hours away from other family. Steve and his wife recently had a child. My husband loves this child and wants to be a part of his life. He was visiting them twice a week to see his nephew. One day he mentioned to his sister-in-law that if they ever wanted a night out we would be happy to babysit. She said no, because male family members were the most likely to molest their child. The sister-in-law is a licensed family therapist with a degree from a good school. We are furious and hurt. I decided to look up the statistics. Her assertion is just pure homophobia. I no longer feel comfortable even being around them (or my nephew), because I am worried that at any moment I could be accused of something. I don’t trust them. This is tearing my husband apart. They know this has upset us and have done nothing but say, “It’s not just you, but we wouldn’t let any male relative babysit.” I don’t know what to do. My husband really wants to be a part of his nephew’s life. Part of me wants to be vindictive and “out” her for her personal beliefs to her gay clients, but I realize that would be pointless. What should we do?
DEAR FURIOUS: I’m not sure where you and your sister-in-law got your information, but according to statistics published by the Department of Justice on the National Sex Offender Public Website (nsopw.gov) “An estimated 60 percent of perpetrators of sexual abuse are known to the child but are NOT family members, e.g., family friends, baby sitters, child care providers, neighbors.”
I guess it’s possible that this woman is a good therapist, but she’s a pretty poor family member, and she obviously doesn’t give a hoot about insulting both of you.
Given their attitude toward you two, you are correct to be extremely cautious and self-protective regarding the baby. Neither of you should be alone with the child, to avoid accusations. Because your sister-in-law has been so honest with you regarding her monstrous assumption, you should be honest with her about how this affects you, your relationship with them and with the child.
Be prepared, however — they may not care.
It is a very tall order for you to remain in this child’s life, but I do think you should try. Walk this road with your husband — don’t abandon him to deal with this mess alone.
DEAR AMY: I recently became separated after almost 20 years of marriage. I became active on Facebook, started to communicate with a beautiful lady and we liked each other. We started a relationship and as we learned about each other, we discovered that we are related. Her mother was my grandfather’s sister, so my friend is my father’s cousin. Family members are not OK with this relationship. My mom found out and now she does not speak to me. What are the rules when dating someone you are related to? I’m not sure if I should keep seeing her.
DEAR WONDERING: The rules for dating cousins are the same as the rules for dating others: Be kind, respectful and don’t scare the horses.
Perhaps your mother has some sort of grudge against your father’s kin. Maybe she objects to you dating before your divorce is final. But she can’t explain her objections if she isn’t speaking to you.
You are an adult. Your job is to listen, weigh your options and the impact on your (other) relationships and then make your choice and accept the consequences.
DEAR AMY: I got shivers down my spine when I read the letter from “Two Decades of Guilt,” who was wondering if she should report the men who sexually assaulted her 20 years ago. Thank you for encouraging her to go to the police.
DEAR BEEN THERE: I have received dozens of responses from others who say they have “Been There,” and all are cheering her on.