Mother’s pur­suit may be push­ing son away

Simcoe Reformer - Times-Reformer - - LIFE - AMY DICK­IN­SON Email: askamy@tri­bune.com

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 be­hav­iour 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.

Dear Amy: My hus­band and I eloped in Au­gust, but my par­ents are host­ing a re­cep­tion luncheon for us in De­cem­ber.

They’re hav­ing it at a nicer Ital­ian restau­rant, and our guest count is about 80 peo­ple. We all agreed that we would not have young chil­dren at the re­cep­tion.

We in­vited his one sis­ter’s two chil­dren, who are over 10, but did not in­vite his other sis­ter’s two chil­dren, who are un­der the age of 4.

We found a babysit­ter (a close fam­ily friend) to watch the two younger kids, so my hus­band’s sis­ter would be able to at­tend our re­cep­tion.

Now she is very up­set. She has said that we don’t care about her fam­ily, and that if her kids aren’t go­ing, she won’t at­tend. My hus­band has tried reach­ing out to her, but she is ig­nor­ing his calls and texts. He is very up­set.

I don’t know how to ap­pease his sis­ter, and I don’t want my hus­band to be up­set, es­pe­cially dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son. What should we do? — BE­WIL­DERED BRIDE

Dear Be­wil­dered: The way to ap­pease your sis­ter-in-law is to do what she wants. The de­gree to which this up­sets your hus­band in­di­cates his will­ing­ness to be ma­nip­u­lated by her. You should let him de­cide what to do, and back him up whole­heart­edly, even if this means giv­ing in.

My own re­ac­tion is that if you two ig­nore this tantrum and any sur­round­ing drama, you will be estab­lish­ing your­selves as a strong and con­fi­dent cou­ple.

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