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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Dear Prudence is an Ally For Cousins

Thanks to a good Friend of FME, I was alerted to a recent Dear Prudence edition about cousins. We've taken a look at Emily Yoffe's work at slate.com before, but here we are again.

This is from the question...
Over 20 years ago I had an affair with a married woman who became pregnant with my child. She reconciled with her husband and they raised the boy as their own.

By the way, in many places a child born to a married couple is legally the child of both, regardless of how that child was conceived.
I have not had any contact with my biological son, at the husband's request. No one in my family knows I have a secret son. Two weeks ago I found out my niece (my sister's daughter) is engaged, and the groom to be is none other than my biological son! 
That makes them biological first cousins. This is not a problem.
Prudie, I am livid that my son's mother and her husband did not stop this relationship in its early stages.

There's no good reason they should stop it all.


"No, Bobby, you can't date that girl because she's you're biological cousin" is all it would have taken.

But that isn't true. The "can't date" part isn't true. First cousins date and marry all of the time. The"biological cousin" part is true, of course, but does the son even know of his genetic origin? If not, as indicated later in the letter, they may not want to tell him.
I contacted the woman and she swore she didn't know our son was marrying my niece since my niece has a different last name. I asked her what she planned to do to stop the wedding and she said she's doing nothing!

Good for her! We need more people like her.
Prudie, how do I bring this up with my niece and her parents? 
He can't, at least not without causing serious disruption to many lives. He shouldn't anyway. Why attempt to trample on someone else's happiness?

Here's the answer provided...
This is an opportunity to repeat my frequent reassurance to fathers: Dads, a statistically significant percentage of you actually have sired the children you think are yours.

That's true. However, up to 20% aren't. So while at least 80% are, that that is statistically significant, up to 1 in 5 aren't. That's just one of many reasons there is more consanguinamory going on that the average person realizes.
You think you have a simple, easy way for the mother of the groom to stop the romance by saying, "Bobby, your father is not your father, and your fiancée is your cousin!" But if you think this through, explaining all this will entirely upend his family, and now yours, and at this late date in the wedding planning you can understand that the parents want to stick with their original plan to keep quiet about Bobby's biology.

Like I said.
Cousin marriage is common in much of the world and I think the remaining laws against it in this country should be repealed. Yes, there is an elevated risk of passing on genetic disorders, but it absolute terms it is very small. Two young people are in love and planning to make a life together. I think you should let that be.

Thank you, Dear Prudence!!! That other couple raised the boy to adulthood and apparently have provided him with a good home, and disrupting their family harmony now would do much more harm than good.

As for anyone who says the groom to be has to be told of his genetic origin for his own health, that really isn't true given modern technologies. Anyone concerned should take medical tests that will tell them of their potential health risks.
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