Supporting daughter’s sexuality
Dear Annie: My 12-year-old daughter confessed to me this evening that she believes she is bisexual. She was quite upset about a comment made by another girl today. I immediately comforted her and explained that I love her, no holds barred. She will always be my baby.
I know your column has recommended some websites for parents and personal support, but I am unable to recall them. I want to become more educated in order to help guide my child on how to be happy with who she is. This information will also help when she decides to tell her father and stepmother. Thank you. — Love My Child
Dear Love: We commend you for being a supportive, loving parent. Please keep in mind that sexuality can be more fluid than we sometimes realize, especially for teenagers, so we hope you will continue to be supportive while your daughter sorts it out. A great website for parents is PFLAG (pflag.org). And if your daughter is being bullied because of her sexual orientation, contact the school immediately. This should not be tolerated.
Dear Annie: I saw the letter from “Frustrated,” the nearly 90year-old man whose wife is now in a nursing home after a stroke. He said his oldest son won’t visit and becomes angry when asked. It’s truly sad how dynamics between parents and children can get completely off track when well-meaning parents, either through a lack of knowledge or mindfulness, do not understand the pain they cause to their children by the underlying critical messages they convey.
At first glance, a son who won’t visit his elderly mother in a nursing home would seem to lack compassion. But the frustrated father who wrote the letter conveyed an unspoken tone of disapproval by implying that the older son should feel guilty for not measuring up to the example of his supportive younger brother.
Based on the son’s reported outburst and his stated feelings of never being heard, this has likely been the pattern of a lifetime, however unintentional the father’s comparisons may have been. If the father truly wants to maximize success in having his older son visit, I suggest that a sincere, unqualified apology for not understanding how he previously failed to acknowledge his son’s perspective, along with your advice to extend an unpressured invitation, would go a long way toward achieving that. — Been There
Dear Been There: It is a common problem between parents and children that they see the same events through very different lenses. What’s worse is when one of them tries to convince the other that their perspective is wrong. This is a recipe for resentment and defensiveness. Parents want their children to love them, and children want to be loved. But a lifetime of misunderstandings and skewed perspectives can get in the way. In order to move past these issues, you sometimes have to be the bigger person and apologize, whether you believe it’s warranted or not. The objective is not to be “right.” It’s to have a close, loving relationship. That often takes both forgiveness and generosity of spirit.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please
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