Man with­out kids gets no re­spect from some par­ents

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FEATURES - Dear Abby is writ­ten by Abi­gail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Con­tact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los An­ge­les, CA 90069. To or­der “How to Write Let­ters for All Oc­ca­sions,”

DEAR ABBY: I’m a gay man in my late 40s who has worked for 10 years in the pub­lic school sys­tem with young adults and kids with spe­cial needs.

I have done ev­ery­thing from chang­ing preschool­ers’ di­a­pers, to tu­tor­ing, travel train­ing and teach­ing life skills to older chil­dren. In the process, I have en­coun­tered my share of co-op­er­a­tion, de­fi­ance, fail­ure and suc­cess.

When speak­ing with fam­ily, friends or strangers about their par­ent­ing, I some­times share my ex­pe­ri­ences. This is usu­ally ac­cepted and even en­cour­aged, but oc­ca­sion­ally I am put in my place by a par­ent who feels I must be told that what I’ve done “isn’t the same as be­ing a par­ent.” Some even go so far as to im­ply that I should re­main silent, as I have noth­ing of a par­ent­ing na­ture to of­fer.

I would think that making ev­ery­one feel in­cluded would be more im­por­tant than of­fi­cial par­ent sta­tus, es­pe­cially when discussing sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences. So what’s the best way to han­dle this? I have no kids of my own; my stu­dents are all I have to share sto­ries about. Should I just dummy up? — SORT OF CHILD­LESS IN SAN FRANCISCO

DEAR SORT OF CHILD­LESS: No, but rec­og­nize that what­ever you of­fered clearly made some­one de­fen­sive. When peo­ple are in that mode, they aren’t re­cep­tive to your opin­ion.

Re­mem­ber the phrase “cast­ing pearls be­fore swine”? It means offering some­thing valu­able to those who don’t understand that it’s pre­cious. You and I, and most par­ents, understand that you are rich in ex­pe­ri­ence. Don’t let the oth­ers get un­der your skin.

DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend, “Richard,” is 15 years my se­nior, and the more he is in­volved in my life, the more over­pro­tec­tive he is be­com­ing. Some of his con­cerns are le­git­i­mate, but it seems like he con­sid­ers me more like a child or “lit­tle woman” than his equal part­ner.

He isn’t com­fort­able with me walk­ing two blocks from my house to a friend’s house at night with­out an es­cort. I re­cently ob­tained my mo­tor­cy­cle li­cense, and he doesn’t want me rid­ing at night. The lat­est is­sue is that he doesn’t want me to walk him to his car be­cause he would “rather me be locked safely in the house.”

I think I’m ca­pa­ble enough to cross my front lawn at night with­out be­ing at­tacked. How do I dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween le­git­i­mate con­cern and over­pro­tec­tive para­noia? —

OVERPROTECTED

DEAR OVERPROTECTED: If your neigh­bour­hood is safe, then this may be a ques­tion of how your boyfriend is pre­sent­ing his con­cerns to you. If he is SUGGEST­ING that he would pre­fer you be more cau­tious af­ter dark, that’s one thing. How­ever, if he’s in­sist­ing, then it’s some­thing else, and it could be a tip-off that he’s not only “parental,” but controlling.

Dear Abby

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