The Fort Morgan Times
Ask Amy Family members are conflicted about compassion
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?
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.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org.