Posted: Monday, May 4, 2009 8:02 pm
Dear Annie: I am a 38-year-old single man with a serious problem involving my 13-year-old nephew, “Hayden.” Hayden’s father died when he was 3, and I immediately stepped in as a surrogate parent. We share a close, affectionate relationship, and he has spent the night at my house on numerous occasions. There was never a problem until a month ago.
During a sleepover, I awoke to find Hayden had crawled into my bed and was attempting to perform a sex act on me. I immediately stopped him, and we spent the rest of the evening discussing what happened. He confessed he was attracted to men and had been obsessed with having an intimate homosexual encounter since he was 11 years old. He thought I would be receptive to it because I always give him a hug and kiss when I see him. I have been doing this since he was a toddler, and there was never anything remotely sexual about it.
Hayden also admitted he has had a few sexual encounters with a 16-year-old male neighbor. I was stunned by all this. I calmly explained to Hayden that a sexual relationship between us was simply not possible, and that it was dangerous to be looking for that with any adult. He seemed genuinely sorry and begged me not to tell his mother. I agreed, but now regret making that promise. I worry he might seek an encounter with someone who may not have his best interests in mind.
Do I break my promise and tell my sister, thereby losing his trust? Or do I handle this myself, and if so, how? — Louisville Uncle
Dear Uncle: You have handled this well so far. However, at some point you will need to break that promise, so first arm yourself with useful information. Contact PFLAG (pflag.org), 1726 M St., NW, Suite 400, Washington, D.C. 20036, and encourage Hayden to do the same. Like any teenager, he should understand the emotional and physical risks of becoming sexually active, and he needs guidance.
Dear Annie: My daughter received an iTunes gift card from one of her friends. At the birthday party, she and this friend attempted to redeem the card online, but it did not activate. The friend told her mother the card did not work. Two days later, we attempted to exchange the card at the store where it was purchased, but we needed a receipt. I called the friend’s mother, but she told me she thought she had thrown it out, but she’d check and let me know.
Anyway, this particular mother has not contacted me, apologized or tried to exchange the purchase herself. If it were me, I would have taken the card back and gotten another. Am I out of line? What would be the proper action if this happens again? — Kind of Annoyed in Florida
Dear Annoyed: Say nothing. Is it possible this girl gave your daughter a card that had already been used? That would explain a lot, including Mom’s reaction. Yes, of course she should have apologized and exchanged the card herself. However, it was a gift, which means even if Mom was ill-mannered and cheap, you’re out of luck.
Dear Annie: Like “Total Loss’s” son, I, too, was in the upper 4 percent of my high-school class and had a great scholarship. My first semester at college was a total disaster, culminating in completely erratic behavior and a suicide attempt. I was sent to the state hospital, where I was diagnosed as bipolar (manic depressive) and tried a score of medication before I found one that let me function again.
Tell “Total Loss” to have her son evaluated immediately. It could be a matter of life and death. — Bipolar in Wyoming
Dear Bipolar: You are so right. We are happy you were diagnosed and are doing so well. Thanks for sharing your story.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 5.4.09