Starshine Roshell Photo: Jackie Sallow Photography
I recently learned that my 24-year-old stepson "Alex," whom I helped raise, is an actor in the porn industry. He's been doing this for several years and there are numerous videos of him online engaging in sexual acts. When I found out I was sad and appalled. I called Alex and he said it was true. I haven't spoken to him since; I just can't bring myself to. The problem is I have two other sons, "Kurt," 13, and "Kyle," 14. Alex, who lives across the country, invited them to spend a week with him at his house. The boys have been out to see him several times in the past few years, but that was before I knew about his job. Kurt and Kyle claim they had no idea about Alex's work, but I don't know if that's true. They say it doesn't matter to them and they still want to visit their brother, whom they adore. Not only do I not want them visiting him, I don't think they should have any contact with him at all. My husband, the father of all three boys, thinks I'm making too big a deal of the situation. Am I right to be disturbed by all this? What's the best course of action?
This is a big deal. And I'm troubled by the fact that you won't speak to someone you raised about it, but you'll write to a stranger for advice about it.
Look, this isn't what a mother dreams of for her child. We don't even like to think of our kids as sexual, much less as publicly sexual, and even less as a tool in the sexual satisfaction of innumerable horny web surfers. (Oh, Alex! What have you done?!) It's gross and embarrassing and I'll totally give you that.
But squeamishness is the least important issue here. What about Alex's physical and emotional health? Is he being exposed to STDs? How will his job ultimately affect his self-esteem, and his interpersonal relationships?
You can't have given up on this kid entirely. You can't think that cutting him off from his family will improve his situation. You can't believe (can you?) that your younger sons will behave any differently than Alex — will respect your values or devote themselves to making you proud — if you get in the way of their relationship with their brother.
Let the kids go see him. And go with them. See for yourself that he hasn't sprouted horns (other than the obvious one). Ask him why he's doing porn, and if he likes it, and why or why not. Find out what his long-term goals are. Make sure he's OK. Be the parent he clearly needs.
Then remind Alex that he's not just the oiled-up guy who can schtupp on command; he's also a role model to two young men who are of porn-watching age and who will almost certainly wind up seeing his work. Ask him if he intends to teach his adoring brothers that a man's greatest asset is his plumbing — or if he's got the gonads to offer something more.
I have been in a crazy-good relationship with a woman for 4.5 years. She is noticeably younger than I am, and the ticking of her biological clock has reached a deafening volume. Although we are completely in love, I have two teenage kids and cannot get my mind around having another child at my age. That seems to be a dealbreaker, and we are now trying to break up so she can move on and find a guy to eventually have a kid with. But still, we really don't want to be without each other. I love and respect her and would never try to talk her out of her dream of having a family, and she understands why I don't want to start a second family. It's really a tough situation; we're amazingly good together, kind of a soul mate thing. This is the toughest situation I've ever been in romantically. What say you?
Oh, you're killing me with this! I hate it when all parties are blameless: Everyone wants reasonable things. Everyone is being honest and respectful to one other. And yet, the situation is still mercilessly unfair and painful.
Even if you could finagle some ultra-modern, conventions-be-damned, have-it-all arrangement (say, she and a gay buddy with fatherhood fantasies platonically co-parent a very-much wanted child while you and your kindred spirit still get to date), her attentions would always feel divided, resentments would seep in from all sides — and though you could continue making love together, you wouldn't be making a life together.
I applaud you both for knowing what you want, and being true to it. But… did she only just realize her dream? Did you? Four-plus years is an awful long time to pretend that your disparate goals don't matter — and that your inevitable separation won't be more painful with each year that passes. (Hmm, perhaps there's some blame to lay after all?)
You know how this ends, my friend. Your soul mate has a huge task ahead of her; don't waste any more of her time.
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