Dear Amy: My son revealed to me that years ago, an older male family member propositioned him to have sex.
This apparently took place at a holiday dinner where some heavy drinking had occurred (which was not unusual), and after his father and I had left.
My son confronted this person two years ago, and it didn’t go well.
The family member appeared truly shocked and denied all involvement.
At first, he was open to discussion, but then became very angry and lashed out.
My son has cut off all contact with him.
This has caused me a lot of pain and confusion.
I find it very hard to reconcile this person’s behavior with the person I know, but I can clearly see that my son has been traumatized.
We have a small extended family and he’s an only child, so I truly wish there could be reconciliation.
Is it wrong of me to want him to forgive this family member and have some semblance of a relationship going forward?
How should my son go about it?
— Mother in the Middle
Dear Mother: You should not ask me how your son should forgive this family member who propositioned him. Forgiveness cannot be forced through the pressure of a third party.
Furthermore, this family member has not explained, acknowledged or apologized for this incident; in fact, he is aggressively denying it.
Sexual aggressors rarely own up to their behavior or acknowledge the devastating impact on others. This defiance and denial does not lay the groundwork toward forgiveness and reconciliation.
I think you should examine your own motives for basically wanting this to go away. You say your son is clearly traumatized. You seem to believe his account of what happened. And yet you also seem eager to use the concept of forgiveness in order to sweep this episode under the rug, mainly to ease your own discomfort.
Your son doesn’t seem to be asking you to cut all ties with this family member, but his trauma might be more manageable if he knows that his mother is in his corner, and not expecting him to do something that right now might seem impossible.
Take your son’s anguish seriously, and urge him to seek professional therapeutic help in order to process this disturbing episode.
Dear Amy: My father passed away several years ago, leaving his house to my sister and me.
Since she wanted to live in the house, we agreed that she would eventually buy out my half (she couldn’t afford to do this at the time).
Now it is eight years later, and she is still living in the house.
Whenever I bring up the subject, I get a “deer in the headlights” look and I feel she will cry, so I let it drop.
Now that my husband and I want to retire, I will need my half of this inheritance.
My father’s lawyer has passed away and I don’t have a lawyer.
If I do in fact have to take some type of legal action, I wouldn’t know where to start.
What should I do?
— Ready for the Next Chapter
Dear Ready: If your sister couldn’t afford to buy you out of this property eight years ago, have her circumstances changed significantly now? You should assume not, which is why she doesn’t want to discuss it.
Your first step should be to find a new attorney to advise you about the terms of this estate and your options, now. You must have competent legal advice.
Your own fears about upsetting your sister have kept both of you somewhat trapped. She likely lives with her own fear of displacement hanging over her head.
You simply must be brave enough to face this. Think of this as a problem you two will solve, together. If she becomes upset, stay calm, hang in there with her, and keep the door open.
Dear Amy: “Want the Best” described wanting to homeschool their children for 12 years, because of “the state of the school system in the United States.”
I hope these parents do homeschool their child.
The last thing school teachers need is another parent who is afraid that the teachers are not smart enough or qualified enough to teach their child!
Dear Parent: Homeschooling is demanding. It IS teaching. These parents had a knee-jerk reaction to public education, without seeming to have done a shred of research — either about their local school or homeschooling.
I agree that these children definitely deserve better.
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