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Over the last few years, my father has spent countless hours holed up in his study on the computer. Because he's such a boring person, it was a big family joke that he was probably looking at porn. It wasn't until a recent family vacation when my sister borrowed our dad's laptop that we learned he really was looking at porn. After we investigated his various computers (we wanted to believe it was somehow a mistake), we discovered that a majority of the porn was of quote-unquote "underage" girls. Some of it was rather hard-core stuff. I don't think my father has the savvy to find illegal child porn, so I doubt any of the pictures he's downloaded are of anyone who's actually under 18.

Once we got over the initial repulsion (he even downloads stuff to his Palm Pilot!), my sister became frightened for her children.

My father never did anything out of the norm when my sister and I were growing up, and he never did anything with any of our friends. My father has a degenerative disease and I know it prevents him from having any kind of sex life with my mother, so although I find the underage stuff revolting, I'm not really concerned.

My sister, however, no longer wants her young children to spend the night at my parents' house, and since we aren't planning on telling our mother (or our father for that matter) what we found, I'm not sure how she's going to pull this off for the rest of everyone's lives.

What do you think? Is my sister overreacting, or should she keep her kids away from him? --Worried About Dad

You and your sister should be ashamed of yourselves. Your father was kind enough to lend your sister his laptop, and the two of you repaid this kindness by launching an "investigation" into his various computers--even his Palm Pilot! And now, thanks to your snooping, you know more about your father's sexual fantasies than you want or have a right to. For shame.

Is your sister overreacting? Yes, I believe she is. I'm not going to spend a lot of time defending your father's taste in pornography because hey, I think quote-unquote underage porn is creepy too. (The same goes for a lot of overage porn.) But so long as the "underage" porn on your father's computer features youthful-looking adult women, there's nothing illegal about it and no harm in it. And finding hot-teen-slut porn on your father's computer doesn't mean he's a child molester. From sleazy cheerleaders to Catholic schoolgirls, teen sluts fuel the sexual fantasies of millions and millions of straight men. The desire to fuck someone who's young and fertile and postpubescent is not evidence of some horrifying sexual dysfunction. Genetically speaking, it's what men were designed to do.

That said, the vast majority of men who fantasize about teenage girls have no interest in actually being with them--or in being with prepubescent girls. You write that your father didn't have any kiddie porn on his computers because he isn't savvy enough to find it. (Way to give your dad the benefit of the doubt!) But finding kiddie porn on-line is depressingly easy, WAD, so it's possible that your father isn't downloading kiddie porn simply because he isn't interested in kiddies. Considering that your father never behaved in a sexually inappropriate way with you, your sister, or your friends, maybe the old man has earned the benefit of the doubt.

Rather than destroy her relationship with your mother and father by suddenly refusing to let him get near her children, your sister should confront him: "Dad, when I was using your computer, I found some porn on it that disturbed me. I'm sorry for snooping, and I know in my heart that you would never hurt your grandchildren, but I want to hear it from your own mouth."

He'll be mortified, of course, but it'll be worse for her--because to set her mind completely at ease, she's going to have to have a discussion with your dad that no woman wants to have with her father: one about his sexual fantasies. She'll have to ask your father exactly what runs through his mind when he looks at those pictures. Your sister may find some comfort in hearing that while the idea of sex with 16-year-olds turns him on, child molestation and incest do not. Your sister can decide for herself if dad's telling the truth.

I've been dating a guy for almost two years. We recently split because of his mother and his ex-girlfriend, whom he was with for 12 years. His ex-girlfriend lives in an apartment in his mother's house. This girl and her new boyfriend are "regulars" at family gatherings and even use the family vacation home! My boyfriend insists that his ex-girlfriend is a "member of the family" and "just a friend." My boyfriend's mother, who knows I don't approve, invites this girl to family gatherings knowing that I refuse to come if his ex-girlfriend is invited.

It's her right to invite whomever she cares to, but I feel that it's an insult to me for her to invite this girl now that I'm a part of her son's life. I was left alone on Christmas because I refused to take part in their family gathering knowing this girl would be there. Part of me feels that my boyfriend has been brainwashed by his mother into believing that this situation is A-OK. Any suggestions?

--He's My Man Now

I have one suggestion: Grow the fuck up.

You may be a part of your boyfriend's life, but his ex was a part of his life--and, by extension, his mother's life--for 12 years. So when your boyfriend tells you his ex is a member of his family, he's not feeding you some line of shit. After 12 years his ex is a member of the family, you dolt. And if you want to be a member of his family, you're going to have to accept her presence.

Being around people we don't necessarily like is the price we all pay at holidays for having families. Asking your boyfriend's mother to exclude (or evict) someone she's known and loved for 12 years because her son is seeing someone who's manipulative and insecure isn't going to endear you to anyone. Given the choice between her son's pleasant ex-girlfriend and the manipulative, insecure little bitch he's dating now, your boyfriend's mother is going to choose the ex every time.

You obviously don't know a good thing when you've got it. Any sane person would be anxious to be part of a family that doesn't turn its back on in-laws when a relationship doesn't work out. Your boyfriend's family sounds healthy and well-adjusted. If that's not to your taste, there are plenty of guys out there with unhealthy, fucked-up families that might be.

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