DEAR ABBY: My stepson “Arnold” recently moved out, and I found a notebook he left behind that I thought I’d use. Inside was a journal entry he had made last year about someone he loved. The problem is, it’s directed to another man.
I want to believe that’s not true, but the writing and everything else checks out. I wish I had never seen it. We’re a Christian family and have conservative views.
Arnold never dated much, but we thought it was because he was so focused on his education. None of us would have ever expected this. There were no signs whatsoever.
I feel such a burden right now. I know why he wouldn’t tell his parents. His dad would be devastated. I never keep anything from my husband, and I feel terrible not being able to share this. But I don’t want to reveal what I saw if my stepson isn’t ready.
What should I do? Should I ask Arnold about it? How can I take this burden off my shoulders? — STRESSED IN THE WEST
DEAR STRESSED: I am a firm believer in communication. Return the notebook to Arnold, and when you do, use it as an opportunity to open a conversation with him about it.
I do not think you should unburden yourself to your husband. The person to “out” Arnold should be Arnold.
DEAR ABBY: I reconnected with a guy from high school five months ago. We started hanging out and eventually decided to start dating. The first month or so was great, but right away he started becoming very possessive and jealous.
It has been four months, and he is constantly accusing me of being sneaky and cheating. Abby, all I do is work and go home. I don’t have a social life anymore because he doesn’t trust me to go anywhere alone. I can’t even talk on the phone to one of my girlfriends without him asking me a million and one questions.
My friends and family tell me I need to do what’s best for me and leave him, but I’m not sure if I’m scared to leave him because I’ll be alone, or if I’m just scared of him. — ON THE EDGE IN OHIO
DEAR ON THE EDGE: Your “guy from high school” is doing his best to isolate you. This is one of the warning signs of an abuser. If you are afraid to leave him because you don’t want to be alone, please consider how alone you are feeling right now.
If you are afraid he will hurt you, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233 for suggestions on how to leave safely. If you need moral support when you deliver the message, have family members or several friends with you when you do it. Then block him from your social media and cellphone. And if he threatens you in any way, file a police report. The only thing you should NOT do is nothing.
DEAR ABBY: At what age is it inappropriate for an uncle to cuddle his niece? She’s in fifth grade. I don’t do anything except put my arm around her while sitting on the couch. She still likes it, but when should I stop this activity with her? — WONDERING IN THE SOUTH
DEAR WONDERING: I don’t regard an uncle putting his arm around his niece to show affection as “cuddling.” However, the age when the displays of affection should be curtailed is when the girl is physically mature enough that it makes either her or her uncle uncomfortable.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at http://www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in “What Every Teen Should Know.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)