Los Angeles Times

Not her secret to reveal

- Email questions to Amy Dickinson at askamy@ amydickins­on.com.

Dear Amy: After many years of marriage and two children, my now ex-husband revealed that a few years before we met, when he was about 30, he had a “consensual” sexual relationsh­ip with his 15-year-old, nonbiologi­cal niece (his exwife’s niece). The family found out and was upset — but nothing happened.

I was devastated by this informatio­n and other serious problems in our marriage, and we divorced seven years ago. We both still live in our hometown and share custody of our kids, 15 and 17.

I haven’t told our kids or my family about this.

I’m living in fear that my kids will find out one day and that they will resent me.

Keeping this secret has cost me. On occasion I look like the ”bad guy” in our divorce, which is unfair to me.

I think my ex can still be charged for this crime, although this is unlikely. It has affected our lives in other ways.

Should I just live with this and hope for the best?

Sick of Secrets

Dear Sick of Secrets: No sexual relationsh­ip with a 15year-old can be considered “consensual,” because (with a few exceptions depending on the state) 15-year-olds are too young to consent.

The age differenti­al between a 30-year-old and a 15year-old makes this lack of consent more obvious.

If you have any valid reason to suspect or believe that this behavior might continue (or resurface), you should notify your children.

You have every right to loathe your ex for this sexual misconduct or for any other reason. You don’t have the right to use your knowledge of this crime to retaliate against him now.

And so you have to question your own motivation.

You seem worried that your kids might have too high an opinion of their father, when you believe that he doesn’t deserve it. But he is their father. Familial love is not balanced. Children do love undeservin­g parents.

If your ex lies to your children about you or unfairly casts you as “the bad guy,” you should immediatel­y correct the record.

Otherwise, this is not your secret. It’s his. If the victim chooses to come forward, he’ll have to face this.

You worry that if you don’t tell your children, they will resent you. It’s more likely they will resent you if you do tell them, because you would be transferri­ng the burden of this knowledge from you onto them.

Dear Amy: I recently saw a friend for the first time in six months or so. In the interval, she had lost a lot of weight, looked great and was obviously feeling amazing.

I asked her how she’d done it (dieting is a frequent topic for us), and she named a weight-loss program I’d never heard of. She said she would email me details and was enthusiast­ic about me joining this program.

When I got home I looked it up and I saw that this program is basically a multitier marketing scheme. It appears to be quite expensive, and urges members to recruit new members.

I’m not planning to participat­e, but I’m torn about telling my friend about this scheme. I’m also wondering how to turn her down. I’d Rather Be Chunky

Dear Chunky: Assuming your informatio­n is correct, the way to turn down an offer to join a multilevel marketing scheme is politely, firmly and, if necessary, repeatedly.

Tell her, “I’m happy you are doing so well, but this is not for me.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States