Dear Savvy Auntie,

I have a 13 year old niece. My sister is currently going through a divorce, and has adopted a 'it is my life i deserve to have fun' attitude, almost completely ignoring my niece. I niece is a smart athletic girl who has tons of potential. I recently found out that my niece has been engaging in sex with an 18 year old woman( who I also found out was using my niece for sex). I know that my sister is not going to be okay with my niece engaging in homosexual behavior. My deep concern comes from the fact that this is a significantly older person and I do not want my niece to be hurt. Although at this point it is crying over spilled milk, I know that she is not ready for an intimate relationship.

How do I let her know that I am supportive and there for her if she is a lesbian while also being firm in my admonishment of such sexual behavior at that age?

Concerned Auntie

Dear Concerned Auntie,

It is so difficult to see behaviors like your sister's and nieces that conflict with your beliefs and values.This is a recurring theme in the letters Dear Savvy Auntie receives.

It is not unusual for teenagers to explore same gender relationships, even sexually. The majority of them are just experimental; so don't jump to the conclusion that your niece is a lesbian.

She may have been attracted to the older teenager (she is not a grown woman yet) for satisfaction of her maternal needs; as you report her own mother ignores her. She may also be imitating her mother and "one upping" her.That is where you come in! Skip the lectures, hold your judgment and spend time with her. Impart your beliefs by example, by interesting activities and most acceptance and love. If the topic of her relationship arises you can talk about the importance of "caringness", support and commitment in a sexual relationship. Is she receiving this? I would even go so far as to try to meet her "friend." The reports of sexual involvement may be exaggerated and bringing it out into the light of day most often will diffuse it.

Perhaps you could introduce a new and interesting interest: dog walking, a sport,a craft, anything that takes up time and energy that is enhancing.

I hope you don't find this least there is no worry about pregnancy!

I wish you and your niece the very best,

Natalie Robinson Garfield

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