DEAR ABBY: I am concerned about my niece. She's 18 and a senior in high school. Her father -- my younger brother -- is incarcerated and has been for 13 years.
Our families have been alienated, but I'm trying to reach out to my niece. Although she has been hesitant to get close, we've had a couple of face-to-face visits during the past year. She is needy for family, and I know her mother has been overwhelmed having had to raise her on her own.
Long story short, my niece has been dating -- for the second time -- a man her father's age. She lives a few hours away, so most of what I see is on social media. I don't understand how this man thinks it's OK. My niece looks like she's only 13. It makes me cringe, yet I feel this isn't my business or within my power to change. You can tell me this is none of my business and I should just walk away, but my niece is vulnerable and I'm worried about her. -- WORRIED AUNT IN TEXAS
DEAR WORRIED AUNT: Your niece may be vulnerable in your opinion, but she is also 18. She may have father issues that need to be ironed out, but considering the man has been absent since she was 5, that's not surprising.
I agree that this isn't within your power to change. My advice is to be there for her when she will allow it, be as supportive as you can, resist the urge to try to fill a parental role and do a lot of listening.