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Snooping brother finds sister's graduation secret

Q: I'm the older brother of a sister, "Anne," who graduated from college last June. She has always been hardworking and popular. However, she is extremely sensitive about the fact that while I went to an Ivy League school, she went to a good but less "prestigious" college than I did. No one else in my family has made an issue of this and everyone was as proud of her when she graduated as they were of me. This past weekend, while visiting my parents' house, I was getting a book in Anne's room and found a crumpled letter from her university stuffed in the back of her bookshelf. It was dated the day of her supposed graduation (which she walked at and we all attended) and alluded to the fact that she had not actually received a degree because she was short several credits. She has a good, very demanding job, and I am virtually positive that she never made up the credits and that neither my parents (who paid her tuition) nor her employer are aware that she doesn't have a degree. I don't know whether to discuss it with her first or just alert my parents.

A: You are aware, Mr. Ivy League, that a crumpled letter in someone else's bedroom addressed to the occupant of said room comes under the heading of "none of your business." But you snooped anyway and found out some very concerning news regarding your sister. Now that you have this information, I think you should go to her and first apologize unreservedly for looking at her private correspondence. Then tell her you are concerned that what is a minor and easily fixable problem now will likely blow up in her face in years to come if she doesn't address it. Tell her that overstated credentials have torpedoed many careers, and since she's so smart and so capable, she should be in touch with her college and working out the most convenient way to finish the necessary credits, in order to protect the successful career she will surely have. Be prepared for her to flip out over the fact that you were nosing about in her bedroom, and that you again seem to be lording your high-prestige parchment over her. Then leave this up to her to fix. She is an adult, and if she wants to start her career with a lie, she's the one who will have to live with the consequences.

Not your place to tell

A few months ago I found out that a friend (not close, bordering on acquaintance) cheated on her husband with a random guy. Fast forward, I find out this same friend cheated on her husband, again, with her cousin's husband. Cousin doesn't know, cheater's husband doesn't know. The cousin is an acquaintance of mine with three young kids; cheater has two kids. I just keep my mouth shut, right?

Right. Everyone involved is only tangentially in your orbit. Keep it that way. —

Snooping brother finds sister's graduation secret 02/24/14 [Last modified: Monday, February 24, 2014 5:12pm]
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Dear Prudence.

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