DEAR ABBY: Recently when I dropped by my sister "Judith's" home for a visit, I found my 13-year-old niece, "Libby," curled in a fetal position on the sofa. Her face was red and wet from tears. After half an hour of coaxing, she confided what caused her to be distraught.
Libby had confronted Judith that morning with suspicions that her mother was having an affair. Not only did Judith confirm her daughter's suspicions, she informed Libby that the affair had been going on for several years and was nowhere near finished. Then my sister swore Libby to silence. Libby said Judith was not only not sorry, but she was proud of what she was doing.
I held Libby for the next two hours while she poured out her sorrows. Then she asked me what she should do. Abby, I didn't know what to say. I've always lived by the "mind your own business" dictate, but I'm not so sure about it now.
I don't doubt Libby's story. I know of two other affairs my sister has had. What upsets me is Judith's lack of good sense. Tell me, what kind of mother proudly confirms her affair and then forces her 13-year-old daughter to keep the secret from her father? -- MY HEAD IS SPINNING
DEAR MY HEAD IS SPINNING: A very shortsighted, cruel and unrealistic one.
Stay close to your niece. She needs someone to talk to. Tell your sister you know about her affair. Suggest she and her husband go to marriage counseling -- or else you will have to tell him for the sake of your niece's emotional health. Whatever the outcome, this is an unfortunate and traumatic event in your niece's life. She will need counseling.