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The Boston Globe

Lifestyle

Dear Margo

Dear Margo column

Q. I can only imagine what it is to give advice and then have the entire nation weigh in on it. I agree with you 99 percent of the time, but I think you gave only a partial answer concerning the possibly incestuous twins. You wrote, “And really, it is their business. Should your worst fears be the reality, it is no reflection on your family.” That was the recent assertion of a Hollywood director making a movie about incest: It’s just an alternative lifestyle! No judging!

Yesterday I read an article by a psychiatrist (I’ve been looking like crazy so I could include the link, but I failed to find it) saying that incest is not just an alternative lifestyle. Normal people do not fall in love with their siblings and express that love sexually. When incest occurs, it is because of deep childhood harms that occurred, and it’s always a sign that someone needs help. Fast.

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I agree with you that just because they live together does not mean it’s incest. Twins are very, very close, and I think the bonds are stronger than between singleton siblings, so she shouldn’t jump to conclusions. But if it is incest, it isn’t just a MYOB situation. Her siblings need help, and not to save the family’s image, but to save them. Incest is taboo for a reason.

A. I agree with most of what you say, but there is one key misunderstanding. Either I didn’t make the point clearly enough or you extrapolated, but unlike the director, I in no way think incest is “an alternative lifestyle choice.” (Misinformed crackpots say the same of homosexuality.) I just said there is no proof, and to assume aberrational behavior does a disservice to the twins when their living arrangement may have nothing to do with sex. Should incest be verifiable, then you and I would see eye to eye that mental health help is indicated. We also agree that severe family dysfunction is at the root of such deviation, making it true that, like charity, incest begins at home.

Q. I have little kids — two girls and a boy, ages 3, 4, and 6. The older two are starting to ask questions about the difference in their “wee-wees,” where babies come from, etc. I believe in being truthful and straightforward with children, but I feel I need guidance as to what to say and how to say it. My own mother couldn’t quite manage “the talk,” so I learned from other kids, and I must say, later on, I wished the information had been transmitted differently. Do you have any ideas about this?

A. There’s a wide selection of books geared to different age levels. Go to your library or browse online. I am for being direct — i.e., no nonsense about storks or angels bringing babies. There is, however, a limit to what young children can take in when it comes to details.

There’s an old joke that states the problem perfectly. A youngster asks his mother: “Where did I come from?” She starts explaining fallopian tubes, eggs, sperm, and the kid cuts her off and says, “No, I mean, where did I come from? Timmy came from Cleveland.” So good luck discussing the birds and the bees.

All letters must be sent via the online form at www.creators.com/dearmargo.

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