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by Abigail Van Buren

Man Makes Hasty Childrearing Decision With Sister

DEAR ABBY: I'm engaged to be married soon, and I'm concerned about a commitment my fiance, "Jeff," made to his older sister "Beth." Beth is planning on having a child through a sperm donor and has asked Jeff to be a "father figure" once the child is born.

He has doubts about the wisdom of her plan to parent a child alone, but he doesn't want to hurt her feelings and is flattered to have been asked to fulfill such an important task. He agreed to do it without discussing it with me. Beth is very nice, and Jeff's family has embraced me and I don't want to cause trouble.

Jeff and I plan on having several children of our own, and we also plan to move out of state in the next few years. I am wondering how this commitment will affect that possibility.

I am uncomfortable with Jeff making a lifelong commitment to serve as a father figure to another person's child, especially when he hasn't established what it entails. I'm worried that this will cause conflict in our marriage if he goes through with it.

Am I overreacting? I know I need to discuss this with my fiance. How do you suggest I proceed? -- UNSURE IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR UNSURE: You're not overreacting, and I agree that before this goes any further, you and Jeff need to talk. Open the discussion by telling him that you're not comfortable and why. Suggest he talk to his sister and find out exactly what she meant when she asked him to be a father figure.

He also needs to tell her he may have spoken too soon when he agreed, because he had not first discussed it with you and that the two of you plan to leave the state in the next few years. She needs that important information because it may alter her choice about who should fill that important role.

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