Q. My daughter is single and raising two sons. Her husband died in an automobile accident four years ago.
I am worried about the relationship between her sons, “Steven,” 16, and “Frederick,” 10. I think they are too close and too affectionate with each other. Steven is very protective of Frederick, and Frederick worships his big brother. When I visit them or they come to my house, they cling to each other. They are constantly hugging and even kissing, which I honestly find a bit disgusting.
Sometimes they watch TV together cuddled up on the sofa. I have even seen Frederick sleeping with his head in Steven’s lap.
My daughter mentioned that sometimes Frederick sleeps in his brother’s bed when she works third shift. I once tried to tell them they are too affectionate and need to cut it out. They both just laughed and said they love each other.
I don’t think there is anything sexual going on between them, but I think that once Frederick reaches puberty, it could very well happen. I discussed it with my daughter, and she said she sees nothing wrong and I am just being old-fashioned. She said kids are a lot more open these days. She said that they turned to each other when their dad died and that Frederick sees his big brother as a father figure.
I can understand that, but am I wrong to be disgusted by their behavior? – Concerned Grandfather.
A. Your daughter is fine with her sons’ dynamics, and that’s enough. You have to trust the job you did as a parent in teaching her good judgment – that if something inappropriate were going on between her sons, she would stop it. Steven must be a mature and caring person to take his little brother under his wing as he has. Of that you should be proud.
Dear Annie: On what planet does “Discouraged in KY” live to think that fat people do not get rude things said to them?
I’ve been overweight most of my life. All through my childhood, comments were made – not by friends or strangers but by relatives and by my mother. None of those people hesitated to express comments about my weight. To them, I was my weight.
At this point in my 68-year-old life, I still have to watch what I eat, but I’m reasonably comfortable with my size. Nevertheless, a new acquaintance asked me not long ago whether I have a goiter. My neck hangs down and always has; everyone on my father’s side of the family has this neck, and mine is worse because of a lifetime of weight gain and weight loss. After the goiter comment, I feel self-conscious. I think people see nothing but my neck when they look at me. And so it goes. Rude comments are still coming in. – Enough Already in FL
Dear Enough Already: Thanks for writing. I’m printing your letter, as it offers another example of something not to say to a friend (or to anyone, period). If you want to try worrying less about people looking at your neck, pick out something about yourself you love – your eyes, smile, earlobes, whatever – and believe that’s what people see when they see you. It might not always be true, but if you’re going to assume something, why not assume something good?
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.