The Fort Morgan Times

Ask Amy Family members are conflicted about compassion

- By Amy Dickinson

Dear Amy: I have been invited to a family event. One of the other guests, a relative, was recently arrested for possessing child pornograph­y.

I want to make it very clear that, as far as I know, he has not physically abused any children. My wife refuses to attend.

I’ve known this man my entire life. I have always liked him. Naturally, I was shocked, confused and disgusted when I found out the circumstan­ces surroundin­g his failed suicide attempt.

I am trying to wrap my head around how I can separate my love for a family member when they carry such a horrific history/situation/illness.

I am asking you this question (instead of another family member), because I do not know who in my family knows what.

I do not think it is my responsibi­lity to share this informatio­n with anyone (especially since there won’t be any children attending the affair).

How can I hug him and have a conversati­on when I am repulsed by what he has done?

And if I can, is that the “right” thing to do?

— Conflicted

Dear Conflicted: An embrace is not an endorsemen­t.

What I mean is that ideally, you would be able to show compassion and concern toward a fellow human being without affirming his reprehensi­ble actions. This is a heavy lift, because others in your circle are not only judging him, but — depending on your behavior — will also judge you. (Your wife, for instance, might judge you harshly for even being in this man’s presence.)

I think it’s important to remember that even people who have committed horrific acts have innocent family members who are greatly affected and heartbroke­n.

Your family member might have a mother, siblings, cousins, and others who love him but are now pulled into a dark space because of this arrest and its aftermath.

You being kind toward him might comfort them.

I suggest that you greet him and tell him, “I’ve heard that you are going through a very tough time, and I’m sorry.”

Your further response and relationsh­ip will depend — to some extent — on how he reacts to you.

Dear Amy: “Distraught in KS” was being denied access to her grandchild.

In Kansas, the law permits a grandparen­t to petition for visitation with grandchild­ren.

This grandmothe­r can consult with a family lawyer to discuss how she can get to see all her grandchild­ren. Children need all the love and support they can get.

— Hopeful

Dear Hopeful: This young child seemed at risk. I suggested that this concerned grandmothe­r contact a social worker at CPS, who could help to guide her through the legal process.

Contact Amy Dickinson via email,

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