DEAR AMY: Seven years ago my father was arrested for having sex with a 16-year-old girl. He was sent to prison for seven years and will be released in about a month.
No one (including my family and me) has had any contact with him since his arrest. No one knows the reasons why he did what he did.
My mother, sister and brother have decided to have nothing to do with him. My husband is encouraging me to do the same.
I still have feelings for him; he was a very loving father to me and never did anything inappropriate with my sister or me.
Even if I can forgive him my husband and family will most likely disown me if I contact him. What would you suggest? -- Forgiving Daughter
DEAR FORGIVING: The kindest assumption is that these family members worry that you are at risk (emotionally, at least) if you are in touch with your father.
The more likely assumption is also more complicated: Your family members don’t want to have anything to do with him and would like to punish you for having a more forgiving and nuanced reaction to your father because this calls their judgment into question.
Your mother and siblings are on one side of this equation. Your husband, however, is the person who should hold your hand through this. He should not threaten to disown you but should be willing to support you through your decision-making process. Your father is a convicted sex offender. Please understand that your husband has reason to be worried, confused and protective.
At the end of the day, other people cannot tell you what relationships to have. If you are determined to pursue this, you should do so knowing that you have every right — but you might be quite lonely doing so. Be aware, also, that the process of reconciliation is a crooked path. It can be extremely painful and may not end in a tidy resolution, but in more heartache. I think you are brave to try.
DEAR AMY: My 33-year-old daughter lives abroad with her boyfriend. Until recently, they were looking for rings, but she met a married guy (with two children), and she has suddenly found her soul mate!
Amy, her boyfriend is the sweetest guy in the world. He is very caring and in love with her.
I am absolutely devastated that she has no regard for anyone else’s feelings. She says they are just friends, but she no longer wants to get engaged. She also says that if he told her that he would leave his wife, she would marry him in a heartbeat.
She is asking for my advice. The advice I gave her is to stay away from fire so she would not get burned. I have also asked her to move back to the U.S., find a job and then find herself before she looks for love. What do you think? -- Distraught Mother!
DEAR DISTRAUGHT: You gave your daughter sound and practical advice. Do not expect her to follow it.
This sounds like one of those situations where the heart wants what it wants. Under these circumstances, the head, unfortunately, seldom cooperates.
It is very disappointing to see the child you raised embroiled in a domestic mess of her own creation; the good news is that she seems to be honest and forthcoming with you. Her actions (and that of the married man) could cause extreme disruption in the lives of several people. This is a very unfortunate situation and she has it within her power to effect a different outcome.
DEAR AMY: Please tell “Distraught” to run like the wind from the freeloader guy she is considering marrying.
My son-in-law is 42 years old and still freeloading. Work is a foreign concept to him. Distraught will come to resent his lack of motivation while she works her tail off. He will be a horrible example for any children they might have.
I couldn’t keep my daughter from marrying, but I hope Distraught doesn’t make the same mistake. -- Voice of Experience
DEAR VOICE: I agree that the lack of motivation is a real red flag.