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 , 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 call them . I want to become more educated in order to 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
I commend you for being a supportive, loving parent . Please keep in mind that sexuality can be more fluid than we sometimes realize, especially for preteens and younger teenagers, so I hope you will continue to be supportive while your daughter sorts it out and finds her identity. She is going through a normal process, nothing to worry about.
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 . Ridicule from her peers would be more harmful to her than anything else at her age.
My friends told me about you and I hope you can help . My husband and I have been married for two years , after living together for five years . We have four beautiful children . Things were going well until we moved into our new home . It's as if we suddenly became strangers . We barely speak to each other . He kept a lot of secrets and lied about everything .
I started snooping around and found out he was having two online affairs . I confronted him and he became angry as if it was my fault . He made me feel terrible , so I let him walk all over me and was miserable . He claims these "affairs" were the same as looking at pornography , but he's wrong . I know one of these women , and they were about sending him text messages and racy photos . Last month , he cleared out half of our bank account and won't tell me where the money went .
After that , I told him he had to stop or the marriage was over , so he trashed his phone and now he rarely goes online . But I can't help thinking , given the chance , he would do it all again . I love him and our family and believe in keeping our marriage intact , but I just don't trust him anymore . Should I leave him or give him another chance ?
Confused and Worried Wife
Dear Confused ,
Sometimes, when people who have lived together for a long period, marry, the dynamics of the relationship shift and change. There can be another period of adjustment.
However, when trust disappears in a marriage, it takes a great deal of effort ... from both parties ... to regain a foothold .
You have four children together so it is worthwhile giving the marriage another chance. But the trust issue will come up time after time. Your husband has apparently trashed his phone but could quite conceivably get another that you do not know about. You obviously feel he could be deceitful again. Can you get past that? You must have had concerns or you would not have started snooping.
He may feel marriage has cramped his style or taken away his freedom. And he is rebelling against those confining feelings. It could be a temporary state of mind and at some point logic and reason will return and he will be himself again. The question is ... Do you want to wait and see?
He has already walked all over you and made you feel miserable and no doubt he will do it again.
The really worrisome fact is that he has taken half of your joint savings and won't tell you what he has done with them (this is a huge red flag) . It indicates more concern for his own indulgence than concern for his wife and children. It may even mean he is trying to separate his life from yours and the kids'.
Of course, marriage counseling is your best hope. A professional could help your husband understand what he is doing and how it is damaging his marriage and family.
If your husband refuses to go, consider that another red flag that could mean he does not care enough about the marriage to save it. Go by yourself and let the counselor help you sort out your own feelings and focus on what is most important. I won't lie to you, trying to save this
relationship does not sound very promising.
Dear Maxy ,An acquaintance recently lost his job , we invited him and his wife to move into our home on a temporary basis . We all agreed they would live with us until one of them found another professional position .
It's been only three months , but it's already uncomfortable . "Sue" and "Bob" do small household chores and pay a minimal amount in rent , but that doesn't counteract the interruption they have added to our daily lives .
They have taken over the Fridge , the cabinets , the laundry room , the living space and the kitchen . We have no private time anymore and cannot trust them to lock the doors or turn off the dryer or coffeemaker when they leave the house . They parade around the house semi-nude , make a lot of noise when we are sleeping and talk while we are reading or watching TV .
We have discussed these issues and others as they have come up , but it hasn't helped . We've asked them to keep out of our bedroom and home office , but the other day I found both of them coming out of the office .
We do not want to put locks all over . We want to trust them , but it seems unlikely . They have made comments about our bills , which indicates they have looked at our private mail .
They are supposedly applying for jobs , but so far haven't found anything that pays what they deserve . We worry we'll be stuck with them forever . They have severance pay , unemployment and money from family members . They spend it on manicures , personal trainers and new electronics . Here's the kicker : They are actively seeking a divorce .
How do we tell they have overstayed their welcome ?
Dear Roomies ,
These people are not your friends. They are using you and taking advantage of your hospitality and kindness.
The time has come to have some open, honest, straight talk. You need to set a deadline and stick to it . Tell Sue and Bob that you hadn't anticipated the job search would take so long and you can no longer accommodate them . Give them one month to find other arrangements ... and that is generous.
If they don't seem like they are making preparations to leave after a week, bring home boxes so they can pack
and to help them along . At the end of the deadline, if they make no attempt to leave, tell them you will put their belongings on the front steps . Then change your locks . And in the meantime, put your personal correspondence in a lock box. They'll get the message.
My husband and son have chronic lung problems . Our son has asthma and my husband's lung health has gotten worse over the years . We have never been smokers , but we have tolerated our relatives who are . Lately , however , family gatherings are proving difficult . Exposure to cigarette smoke can cause my husband to have a setback and my son's asthma to flare up .
I mentioned that their smoking causes problems , but they don't seem to pay attention . I don't want to hurt anyone's feeling . If I were a smoker , I would feel terrible if I thought I caused someone else to have health problems , but they don't seem to feel the same way . Yet they would be upset if we didn't attend these functions . Any suggestions ?
Dear Smoked Out ,
Your husband and son should not be subjected to cigarette smoke, PERIOD. I think you have to emphasize strongly to your family just how serious their health problems are and how the smoke affects them . Unless these people are without feelings, they will co-operate.
Tell the relatives you love them and would enjoy spending time with them, but your family's health comes first . Ask if they would please smoke outside or in a separate room. It may help if you call in advance of an occasion. Otherwise, say sorry, but you will not be able to come .
My budget is a little tight this year , and I can't provide the extravagant birthday presents I've been able to afford in years prior . Upon opening my gift , one of my friends looked at me and said , "What would I use this for?" I had gotten her a plant in a color-coordinated pot to match her living room as well as an amusing coaster set and a card . I felt incredibly put on the spot and said she could use it for everyday life . She looked unimpressed . This happened in front of a small group and I couldn't believe her bad manners . I couldn't afford anything grandiose , but I thought my presents were alright --- I wouldn't mind receiving them ! I am wondering if I shouldn't have skipped presents this year and said I was broke . Another friend's birthday is in a little over a month , and I'm debating between giving a less expensive gift or admitting my financial hardships . Are presents the way to celebrate a birthday , even if they're unappreciated ?
Dear Presently Baffled ,
First of all, I have to tell you, your friend is rude and ungracious. Any gift should be appreciated, just for the fact that you cared enough to bring one.
Be honest with your friends . Tell them that your finances are tight and you can't afford expensive gifts anymore .
Believe it or not, they will understand. Otherwise they may draw their own conclusions as to why you got stingy all of a sudden. You don't want to find yourself in an embarrassing position like that again. Your friends will realize that the value of the gift is in the love with which it is given, not the size of your wallet .
Dear Maxy ,
I visited my daughter at her university this past weekend and realized she had gained the dreaded freshman 15 . I didn't say anything to my daughter , but my girlfriend and I agreed that she gained weight in the 6 weeks she's been gone . My daughter called me after a doctor's visit during the week and was shocked to learn she had gained 13 pounds . Her pants were too tight on her and she said that she needs new clothing , but I think she should lose the weight she gained from late-night snacking on pizza so she can fit into the clothes she owns . My girlfriend told me to be more sympathetic . I think if my daughter can gain the weight , she can lose it too . Am I being unreasonable ?
Dear disapproving Dad ,
Now is not the time to scold your daughter or make her suffer in clothing that is too small . College is a challenge and requires a period of adjustment and settling in for freshmen. They have no time in their schedule to prepare proper meals.
The second year is less stressful, more scholarly, and her lifestyle and habits will level out. Have a little faith in her good sense and wait.
The fact that she called to tell you what the doctor reported shows that she trusts you and feels comfortable confiding in you. She already knows what foods are healthy for her ... she is an adult. It might be a gentle reminder if you took her some nutritious, but not fattening, groceries.