Sep­a­rated mom wants more con­trol over teen daugh­ter

Cape Breton Post - - LIFESTYLES -

Dear An­nie: I caught my hus­band en­gag­ing in In­ter­net porn ac­tiv­i­ties. We had a huge fight and he kicked me out of the house.

Our 14-year-old daugh­ter, “Lori,” still lives with him be­cause he gives her all the free­dom she wants. Her sis­ters live with me, but Lori rarely comes to visit. My daugh­ter is a good kid, but a 14year-old still needs a lot of guid­ance and sup­port.

My hus­band says he is be­ing sup­port­ive by al­low­ing Lori to make her own de­ci­sions. Is this ra­tio­nal and safe? Can a par­ent who engages in im­moral be­hav­iour such as porn, in­fi­delity and ly­ing be a good fa­ther? I want to take Lori away from him, but I am re­luc­tant to force her. She says I have too many rules and re­stric­tions. I don’t want to make things worse.

Can you give me any sug­ges­tions? — Lost in Hawaii

Dear Lost: Your hus­band is not be­ing “sup­port­ive.” He is be­ing lazy. A 14-year-old should not be mak­ing all her own de­ci­sions, and it re­quires a lot of parental over­sight to make sure she is pro­tected while she ma­tures. Lori needs rules. Kids feel more se­cure when they un­der­stand what the bound­aries are. A par­ent who al­lows a young teen to do what­ever she likes is telling her he doesn’t care about her wel­fare. You don’t have to force Lori to move in with you, but you should def­i­nitely talk to a lawyer about reg­u­lar visi­ta­tion so she spends at least half of her time in your com­pany. She needs at least one re­spon­si­ble par­ent in her life.

Dear An­nie: My 94-year-old fa­ther re­cently died. Be­cause I was born fewer than nine months af­ter they mar­ried in 1935, he never be­lieved I was his child. When I was five years old, they di­vorced. I saw him from time to time through­out the years.

Two years ago, Dad called and asked me to take a DNA test. It turned out pos­i­tive, prov­ing I was in­deed his child. His re­sponse? He said, “I’ve been without kids this far and don’t in­tend to start now.” He walked out, and I never saw him again.

My wife and I went to the church the day of his fu­neral and were told by my step­mother to leave be­cause I would dis­rupt the ser­vice. We left. I have three sons and three grand­sons, each car­ry­ing his last name. My step­mother buried all of us that day. I don’t know how to cope. Please help me. — Buried Alive in N.H.

Dear N.H.: How sad that your fa­ther’s mis­placed bit­ter­ness de­prived both of you of a loving re­la­tion­ship. There’s no point blam­ing your step­mother. While she could have been kinder, she no doubt felt she was hon­or­ing her hus­band’s wishes. You have spent a life­time be­ing re­jected by your fa­ther, only to have him die be­fore you had time to rec­on­cile. Please get some coun­selling. It will help you come to terms with your grief and ac­cept that there was noth­ing you could have done to change the out­come. Our con­do­lences.

Dear An­nie: This is to “Ready to Quit,” whose fam­i­lies tell her she’s a ter­ri­ble per­son: Get away from those toxic peo­ple.

I lived through the same night­mare, spear­headed by a jeal­ous mother who con­sid­ered me her com­pe­ti­tion. She broke up my mar­riage be­cause she wanted my hus­band. My rel­a­tives be­lieved ev­ery word she told them. I also con­sid­ered sui­cide, but re­al­ized that would only give them the sat­is­fac­tion of say­ing, “See, we knew she was crazy.”

I was filled with self-loathing un­til I re­turned to school, got a de­gree and walked away from my tor­men­tors. I dis­cov­ered I’m a good per­son, and now I have many good friends who love me. I only re­gret that it took so long to es­cape their judg­men­tal com­ments.

You hang in there and know there is noth­ing wrong with you. By the way, Mom chased my ex for 35 years, and then he found some­one else. She did all that for noth­ing. — Bet­ter Without Them HAL­I­FAX — The anti-gay slurs were tossed around Mar­ion Miller’s class­room in ru­ral Nova Sco­tia as ca­su­ally as pa­per air­planes.

“Peo­ple would be in class just throw­ing out death threats about, like, the two peo­ple who had ever dared to come out,” re­calls Miller, a col­lege stu­dent now liv­ing in Montreal who de­scribes her­self as queer.

“Peo­ple would say things like, ‘My cousin, I don’t talk to him any­more since he came out’ and ‘There’s not any gay peo­ple at this school be­cause we would have rounded them up al­ready.”’

When the dis­par­age­ment was too much, Miller would slip qui­etly out­side her class­room in Pom­quet, an Aca­dian hamlet some 2 1/2 hours north­east of Hal­i­fax.

Miller was around 14 and had only just come out to her­self, close friends and fam­ily. Her class­mates, she fig­ured, wouldn’t ac­cept her.

“I was shaken. It was re­ally scary,” says Miller, now 18. “I was like, ‘Wow, does this mean I could never come out? Is this what faces me in the world, th­ese kinds of peo­ple?”’

For young peo­ple who iden­tify as LGBTQ (les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual, trans­gen­der or queer), be­ing out and proud in small-town Canada isn’t nec­es­sar­ily easy.

Last year, in the ru­ral New Brunswick com­mu­nity of Wood­stock, a high school women’s hockey team made head­lines for band­ing to­gether in sup­port of two gay team­mates. The girls were be­ing ha­rassed on the ice by some mem­bers of ri­val teams.The Wood­stock Lady Thun­der’s sim­ple, rain­bow-theme but­ton cam­paign earned the team a New Brunswick Hu­man Rights Award and a Grace Un­der Pres­sure award from the Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion for the Ad­vance­ment of Women and Sport.

Without vis­i­ble sup­port, one ex­pert says grow­ing up gay in a small town can be an ex­er­cise in wait­ing and lone­li­ness.

“Lots of young peo­ple that we talk to re­ally feel like they need to keep their head down, get through the teenage years and fin­ish school,” says Jen­nifer Fod­den, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of a Toronto-based helpline for LGBTQ youth.

Some 6,000 On­tar­i­ans con­tact the Les­bian Gay Bi Trans Youth Line each year and chat with peers aged 15 to 26 who’ve shared many of the same ques­tions, con­cerns and ex­pe­ri­ences.

Fod­den, 36, says the prom­ise of pride pa­rades and sup­port groups in big cities can lure youths from their ru­ral homes be­fore they’re fi­nan­cially ready. Some wind up on the street as a re­sult.

LGBTQ youth face chal­lenges in larger cen­tres, too, but there’s gen­er­ally more sup­port and re­sources are handy, says Fod­den, a Toronto na­tive who came out as a les­bian at 21.

“I had more op­tions,” she says of her com­ing out ex­pe­ri­ence. “It was a less per­son­ally ex­cru­ci­at­ing process of try­ing to fig­ure out who I was, for sure.”

Miller, who says she’s dated women but hasn’t closed the door on dat­ing men, trans­ferred from Pom­quet to a school in nearby Antigonish in Grade 11.

The switch to Antigonish — a small uni­ver­sity town of about 4,200 peo­ple — was partly to take dif­fer­ent cour­ses and partly to es­cape what had be­come a hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment. But it wasn’t a seam­less tran­si­tion. Miller says she fought, and failed, to form a gaystraight al­liance at her new high school. When she came out pub­licly in her grad­u­a­tion year, there were some neg­a­tive com­ments. But there was also a lo­cal sup­port group for gay youth known as Rain­bow War­riors.

In Septem­ber, Miller moved to Montreal to study arts at a CEGEP cam­pus and seek out “di­ver­sity and open­ness and big ideas.”

Iron­i­cally, she’s dis­cov­ered that be­ing out and ac­cepted means fo­cus­ing on more than be­ing young and queer.

“I al­ways used to feel like when I would bring it up in Antigonish, it would be ‘Oh, there’s the gay one go­ing on about her agenda again,”’ Miller says.

“Here, it’s like I don’t have to bring up my so-called agenda be­cause peo­ple get it.”

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