Sup­port­ing daugh­ter’s sex­u­al­ity

Cape Breton Post - - ADVICE - Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar

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

email your ques­tions to an­nies­mail­box@cre­ators.com, or write to: An­nie’s Mail­box, c/o Cre­ators Syn­di­cate,

737 3rd Street, Her­mosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find An­nie on Face­book at Face­book.com/AskAn­nies. To find out more about An­nie’s Mail­box and read fea­tures by other Cre­ators Syn­di­cate writ­ers and car­toon­ists, visit the Cre­ators Syn­di­cate Web page at www.cre­ators.com.

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