Mother’s pur­suit may be push­ing son away

Kenora Daily Miner and News - - COFFEE BREAK - AMY DICK­IN­SON

DEAR AMY:

My col­lege-aged son and his male friend, “Ran­dall,” were stay­ing with us at our va­ca­tion home this sum­mer. This was the first time we had met Ran­dall.

Late one night, I went down­stairs, as­sum­ing they had left the TV on and had gone to bed, and walked in on them in a state of un­dress dur­ing an in­ti­mate mo­ment.

Both of them pan­icked, and Ran­dall de­cided to leave the next morn­ing. My son was very up­set, and told me that noth­ing was go­ing on. I told him sev­eral times that if he’s gay (or not sure), that’s OK, and he got very an­gry, said he was not gay, that he liked girls, and that I was “ex­ag­ger­at­ing” what I saw. He even called me a liar. Need­less to say, the rest of our visit to­gether was tense.

I have tried sev­eral more times to get my son to talk to me about this and he won’t. He even threat­ened to not come home at Thanks­giv­ing if I brought it up again. I am wor­ried about him re­press­ing, or liv­ing in de­nial. My hus­band thinks I need to let it go, and just pre­tend it didn’t hap­pen, but that feels very un­healthy.

What should I do?

— MOTHER

DEAR MOTHER:

I grew up in one of those New Eng­land fam­i­lies where an ele­phant could be graz­ing in the liv­ing room and my mother would calmly ask about the weather. But there are times when this be­hav­ior of qui­etly wait­ing to dis­cuss some­thing im­por­tant seems less like re­pres­sion and more like pa­tience. You should try it.

Take the ques­tion of sex­ual iden­tity out of this, and imag­ine what it would feel like at that (or any) age to be caught in fla­grante delicto by your mother. Your mother. Mom. Mommy.

Most older ado­les­cents don’t re­ally want a ma­ter­nal wit­ness to much of any­thing they do, which is why so much of the do­ing hap­pens away from home and on col­lege cam­puses.

Imag­ine that you had ac­ci­den­tally wit­nessed your son be­ing sex­ual with a fe­male friend. Would he want to dis­cuss this at length with you? I doubt it.

Stop pur­su­ing him about this.

Ag­gres­sively telling him, “It’s OK to be gay!” might back­fire, be­cause as an emerg­ing adult, he will push back at your ma­ter­nal “per­mis­sion” to be who­ever he wants to be.

Your in­ten­tions are be­nign, but you don’t get to out your son, and you shouldn’t force him to ex­plain or ac­knowl­edge some­thing he may not yet want to la­bel.

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