DEAR AMY: I’m an inmate incarcerated for financial crimes. I have been down for three years (this time). I’m expected to be released in a few months.
During this time, a distant cousin and I have become very close (she is either my fourth or fifth cousin).
She has flown here to visit on several occasions and writes often. We speak on the phone a few times a week. She lives on the West Coast.
Over the last year, our relationship has become romantic. She has started to speak of us being married and having children when I get out. She’s even planning to move to my home state.
While I care very much for her and would even enjoy spending my life with her, I can’t get over the fact that we are distant cousins.
Is there anything wrong with us being romantically involved and having a sexual relationship? I’m creeped out about the thought of intermarriage. The worst part is this would actually be a healthy person for me to associate with once I’m released. I’m just confused about it. — Unsigned
DEAR UNSIGNED: There are some women who are attracted to incarcerated men, and I think in rare cases these relationships can work out, but to me it seems basically foolhardy, if not pathological, to pursue a romance and a future with a repeat offender. But hey — it’s her (and your) life.
If you’re worried about distant cousins marrying, think of the English royal family. They’ve been doing this for generations.
Genetically speaking, you two have nothing to worry about, though genetic testing before having children would be a good idea.
DEAR AMY: My sister-in-law lives vicariously through her 15-year-old daughter.
In my sister-in-law’s mind, my niece will be a successful dancer, the best and cutest cheerleader and the most popular girl in high school. She talks about her incessantly. All of her time, money and energy is devoted to my niece and her activities. She thinks my niece is lucky to have a mom like her. I think it’s cruel.
She ignores her husband and son and ridicules them for being jealous if they bring it up. Other people just roll their eyes and talk about her behind her back.
My niece is a lovely, smart, pretty, normal 15-year-old. My instinct tells me my sister-in-law’s obsession with my niece is abusive. What do you think? — Concerned Aunt
DEAR AUNT: I don’t see how this is abusive, necessarily — although the imbalance of attention in the household is certainly neglectful. It brings to mind the poor offspring of various pushy pageant mothers and TV “Dance Moms.” (Dads also do this to their kids, by the way — most often through sports).
Your sister-in-law’s behavior is somewhat pathetic. A mother living through her teenage daughter is an old and tired trope. This sweet and lovely teen will grow up, and unless her mother finds another hobby, the daughter will have to reject her in order to differentiate and become her own person.
I hope you will be supportive of both children — and if you have something to convey to your sister-in-law, you should tell her, rather than gossip about or criticize her behind her back.
DEAR AMY: I was interested in your letter from “Concerned Mom,” the woman who worried because her seventh-grade daughter and her female classmates were being supervised in the locker room by an “out” lesbian gym teacher.
While this mom didn’t accuse the gym teacher of any misconduct, she didn’t want this woman watching her daughter changing clothes in the locker room.
I guess your advice was good enough when you said that this person is a lesbian, not a pedophile, but how is this situation any different from a heterosexual man supervising these girls in the locker room? — Wondering Reader
DEAR READER: Several people posed this question. My answer is: I don’t know how it’s different. But it is.
Maybe other readers can weigh in and help to answer this question. I welcome your replies.