Dear Annie: I’m in my mid-20s, and my sister is a junior in high school. “Tina” has always looked up to me as the “cool brother,” and we’ve become buddies. I tell her my issues at work and my troubles with women, and she tells me far more than she does the rest of our family. We’ve grown to trust each other.
Last week when the mail arrived, my mother noticed that Tina had received an envelope from the county prison. Inside was a six-page soft-porn letter from a convicted felon who used to date one of Tina’s friends. Mom also discovered that Tina had been accepting long-distance charges on her cell phone from the prison. My parents contacted the authorities, and the man won’t write or call her again. They’ve also grounded Tina for a month.
I’m not that hurt by her lies of omission. She’s just a kid, and I did some fairly stupid things at her age. But now I don’t feel like telling her anything. I’m still nice to her, and we get along like we used to, but I’ve not told her about a few things that have happened in my life recently. Is this an OK way to handle it? – Need Help in Wisconsin
Dear Wisconsin: Tina’s behavior was terribly reckless. And we think you are more than a little upset that she didn’t confide any of this to you and give her big brother the chance to protect her. You don’t have to tell Tina everything. There are things she may be too young to appreciate. But please try to cultivate the closeness you had before, and let her know you wish she had told you about her correspondence with the inmate. You are in an excellent position to be a positive influence in her life.