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'Double life' unfair to all concerned

Dear Carolyn: I am an only child from a pretty conservative family.

I have been in a relationship with a man I love for two years now. Here's the problem: He is African-American and I am not. While his family has met me and approves of our relationship, I have not breathed a word of it to my parents.

I hate lying to my parents. I truly believe my parents would be thrilled with this wonderful man if they would only look past his race.

I want to tell my parents but I am afraid of disappointing them, and, worse, I am afraid they will no longer love me.

At first I told myself I would tell when I was 100 percent sure this is the man I want to marry. But I believe no one really ever knows that. I feel like in the end I will be forced to make this terrible choice.

-- A.

A: "In the end?" This "terrible choice" has been in your lap for the better part of two years, and you've chosen to postpone it.

At significant cost, I might add, to the causes of integrity and decency. Your boyfriend deserves full membership in your life, or freedom to join someone else's; your convictions deserve your courage; your parents deserve to have their beliefs either embraced, or openly challenged. Purporting to be someone you're not dishonors you all.

From here, your actions don't resemble wrestling with an awful choice so much as they resemble this: having your cake, and eating it, too. You're enjoying the taboo boyfriend and your parents' approval.

Yes, "100 percent" certainty is elusive, but given that about 2 million U.S. weddings occur every year, it's not the Loch Ness monster.

Do everyone a favor, please -- yourself most of all -- and grow up. Decide who you are, and own it.

Just because it's going to cost you something dear to you doesn't make you special or unique or justified in your deception. Everyone's choices cost them something. Your costs are high, yes. All the more reason to either go public or get off the pot.

***

Too young to baby-sit?

Dear Carolyn: We have two kids, 4 and 4 months. Every time we need a sitter, my husband suggests a close friend's 14-year-old daughter, who wants baby-sitting experience. He will even mention it in front of her. I think she is too young to handle our kids without backup. I'd be totally willing to have her work as a mother's helper -- looking after the kids while I'm home doing other things -- but she doesn't seem interested. Do you think I'm being obtuse?

-- Midwest

A: No. The mother's helper work is training for the job. She gets the training or doesn't get the job.

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