Dear Palpatine:

DEAR ABBY: In recent conversations with my daughter, who is away in college, she opened up to me that she is hooking up. She introduced herself to this guy two weeks ago, and she’s already having sex with him. I tried to caution her about the dangers of such relationships and how harmful they can be physically and emotionally. She sounded annoyed and said it is her body and she has a right to do whatever she pleases.

I am shocked and disappointed. She’s the first person in our family to go to college. If I tell her father, he would disown her. I am beside myself. My younger daughter will soon be applying to college, and now I’m wondering whether I should allow her to go away, given her sister’s behavior. How should I handle this? Should I tell her father? — STRESSED OUT IN NEW YORK

I am shocked, shocked that His Majesty disagrees with Abby’s advice.

DEAR STRESSED OUT: You don’t give a lot of details about yourself, but my guess is that you are a nominally conservative Christian who would rather your daughter had saved herself for marriage. So I am surprised you would write to Abby for advice. Perhaps you are under the impression that she is a good Christian lady who only wants to help, rather than a highly profitable media business run by the daughter of its founder, who was a progressive reform Jew? It is probably true that “Abby” speaks with a more instinctively conservative voice than the average media personality, but that’s an awfully low bar.

Your biggest clue should have been that she assumes that your shock at your daughter’s promiscuity can only mean you are in a bad emotional state.

I am myself an evil Sith Master rather than a good Christian lady, but that does give me the advantage of candor: I don’t care if I hurt your feelings by telling you what I really think. But if you wish, I can try to channel my apprentice, Darth Vader. He’s fallen in with the Mormons, which makes him neither nice, a lady, nor (in the view of many Christians) a Christian, but close enough.

Leave me out of this, Master.


“I tried to caution her about the dangers of such relationships and how harmful they can be physically and emotionally.” Splendid advice, particularly if you had given it some years ago, when it might have taken.

Oh, but you say you did? It obviously didn’t take. Why might that be?

“She sounded annoyed and said it is her body and she has a right to do whatever she pleases.”


Your advice didn’t take because it was flatly contradicted by other advice, with which she has probably been saturated since she was a teenager in your home. Oh, not from you. Or at least, probably not from you. The notion that one’s body is one’s own is very popular in the current culture, but deeply un-Christian. The Christian (and Jewish, and Islamic) view is that the body is a gift from God. A gift, not a “freebie”: One remains answerable to God for how one uses that gift. Its un-Christian antithesis denies that there is a God to give that gift. Or at it at least denies that anyone can speak for God on the right use of that gift; that is, it denies the immanence of God through prophecy, which is pretty much functionally equivalent to denying God.

But since I am myself inclined to disbelieve in God, or at least in a benevolent God (I am, after all, reportedly made in His image)  that’s not actually what bothers me.

Traditional Christian chastity means no sex outside of marriage. Pretty simple, really. Or it would be, if there was some modicum of adult supervision of the unmarried. However, the universities no longer practice in loco parentis, though, ironically, they nevertheless expect parents to pay large sums to send their children there. Just try getting a loan or grant for your child’s education without disclosing your own tax records.

If your daughter really is mature enough to do what she wants with her body, it seems to me that she’s mature enough to pay her own way. I assume your daughter is going to college on the sweat of your husband’s brow; he has a right to know what she’s doing with his largess, and let the chips fall where they may.

Or you could take the view that your older daughter is already a sunk cost, and see what marginal value you can recover for your younger daughter. Let your older daughter continue on her present course with your blessing, or at least without further intervention, and the resulting human shipwreck should prove a splendid warning to her sister.

One thing you need not worry about is ruining your daughter’s life by taking away her support for college. Because another hard truth is that college is wasted on about two-thirds of those who enter. And, judging from your daughter’s utterly unreflective use of the “It’s my body” meme, it’s not looking good for her being in the other third.

The second letter fared no better in His Majesty’s hands.

DEAR ABBY: My soon-to-be daughter-in-law complains about my son to me. She’s not happy with his job or his boss, but he is. She says he embarrasses her and gets upset when his work must come first. Abby, my son is in charge of the company.

I don’t understand why she would marry someone she feels this way about. I struggle with whether to talk to my son about it or not. I’m afraid he will say something to her and she will be upset with me. He is a happy young man, and it seems his fiancee only wants to change him. He’s almost 30, and I don’t see him changing to her satisfaction. Please advise. — BITING MY TONGUE FOR NOW IN ARIZONA

Abby offered the usual wishy-washy advice that, in the last analysis, amounted to “go ahead and rat her out to your son, but try not to get anyone very upset by doing so.” His Majesty doesn’t disagree, exactly.

“I don’t understand why she would marry someone she feels this way about.” Seems obvious to me that she considers your son a lump of clay in her hands. Which is probably correct, given that he’s under 30 and she probably brings a couple of sizable assets to the relationship.

You cannot possibly do more harm to your son by ridding him of this gold digger than she will do by marrying him. This is one of those rare opportunities to sound off long and loud with exactly what you think, secure in the knowledge that you will actually be doing every concerned (who matters) a great favor.

His Majesty wasn’t lying when he said he was an evil Sith Lord. Just exaggerating, since he hasn’t lorded it over anyone but me and the cats since his retirement.

I can’t say that His Majesty is entirely wrong, though. Your children may have the right to make their own choices, but they don’t have the right to expect you to subsidize boneheaded choices, either financially or emotionally.

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