DEAR AMY: My daughter is dealing with depression issues and told me she is gay.
Her grandparents are outspoken political and social conservatives. Grandpa often makes anti-gay remarks. I know it isn't necessarily because he is that closed-minded and trying to be hurtful, but rather it's because of his generation and upbringing. For fear of upsetting him, the rest of the family changes the subject.
My daughter isn't ready to come out to everyone, and she fears her grandparents will hate her when she does. They used to be 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. I have a sensitive, smart and cherished adult daughter who is avoiding him because she thinks he hates gays and will hate her when he finds out.
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. 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 flawed, but it is not her job to worry about or change them; her only job is to be herself. They will 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.
DEAR AMY: I am a 12-year-old girl. I baby-sit my 3-year-old neighbor, "Luke," at his house.
His next-door neighbor is an elderly man, "Tom," who 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.
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 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 3-year-old will 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.
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