Grandpa's bigotry prompts woman to stay in closet
DEAR AMY: My daughter is dealing with depression issues and recently told me she is gay.
Her grandparents (in particular one grandfather) are outspoken political and social conservatives. Grandpa often makes anti-gay remarks and forwards anti-gay e-mail messages and jokes. I know it isn't necessarily because he is that closed-minded and trying to be hurtful, but simply because of his generation and upbringing. For fear of upsetting him, the rest of the family blushes at his attitude and changes the subject.
My daughter isn't ready to come out to everyone, and she is worried that her grandparents will hate her when she does. They used to be very close.
My daughter is getting treatment for her depression. Grandpa is in his 80s and has medical concerns, so no one wants to aggravate him. But meantime, I have a sensitive, smart and cherished young adult daughter who is avoiding him because she thinks he hates gays and will hate her when he finds out about her.
Making gay jokes is not OK at any age, in my opinion. It is judgmental and rude. Do you have any suggestions for us? -- Mother Bear
DEAR MOTHER: I'm going to assume that no one wanted to aggravate Grandpa even before he had age and medical issues to hide his attitude behind. A little well-placed aggravation many years ago might have made things easier now. Furthermore, your assumption that his attitude is because of his generation or upbringing is part of the problem. He was probably a young bigot. Now he's an old bigot. You can understand him, but don't make excuses for him.
You could convey to your daughter that these family members are deeply flawed but it is not her job to worry about or change them; her only job is to be herself. They will simply have to deal with it.
You should inspire her to be bigger than the lowest common denominator of the haters in your family. Embrace the totality of who she is. Get involved in a PFLAG.org chapter. (In Canada, see PFLAG.ca.) Your activism might offset some of the family ugliness and inspire your daughter so that she feels it is safe to come out.
DEAR AMY: I am a 12-year-old girl. I often baby-sit my three-year-old neighbour, "Luke," at his house.
His next-door neighbour is an elderly man, "Tom," who obviously has some health and mental issues. Many times when we are playing outside, he will see Luke and invite him inside. He offers him treats like ice cream, which the child is not allowed to have. It's hard to persuade Luke to stay away, so we usually have to go back inside his house.
Luke's mother asked us not to go into Tom's house, and I am not comfortable being there, anyway.
How can I tell Tom no? I have said, "No thank you," but Tom will just keep asking Luke, who wants to go with him. Tom has never acted aggressive or inappropriate with Luke. -- Baby Sitter
DEAR BABY SITTER: Under no circumstances should you go into this man's house. Your first concern should not be about "Tom's" feelings, but about your own responsibilities.
Here's how you should respond to Tom if he invites you and Luke into the house: "I'm sorry, but we can't." If it makes you more comfortable to disappear into Luke's house after you say this, then do. If you feel trapped by an invitation from him, say, "Our moms won't let us."
A three-year-old will naturally gravitate toward ice cream. But your job is to make sure that "Luke" is OK. You must stay in charge. Deflect his interest away from this temptation.
DEAR AMY: Thank you for telling "Shoo Kat" that they should not be letting their cat go outside because he can be exposed to infectious diseases. Disease is only one reason people should keep their cats inside -- cars, coyotes, other animals and horrid people are all reasons why it's hard to believe why anyone who loves their cat will continue to let it go outside. -- Cat Lover
DEAR LOVER: Cats who stay in live longer.