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: 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.