Dear Amy: Last year, my 16-year-old son came out as bisexual.
He's still struggling with this. My family has mainly been supportive. Even my father, who is very conservative, has overcome his prejudices in order to support his grandson.
The problem is my sister, who is even more extreme than my father.
My son was very afraid to tell her. He was afraid that she would not let him see his young cousins if she knew. He finally asked me to tell her, as he was tired of "pretending."
I am planning an upcoming family party. When I told my sister about my son, her first comment was, "I've thought he was gay ever since he was in elementary school." Her second comment was, "Wait, is he bringing a boyfriend? I don't want my kids exposed to that sort of thing."
She said she needs to "protect her children's innocence." She said that she loved my son, but didn't accept his behavior. She said she would be fine accepting a girlfriend, but not a boyfriend.
At that point, I uninvited her from the family event. She claims I am being hateful.
I don't want my son exposed to a family member who feels that way about him, but would like to have a relationship with my niece and nephew. Any insights?
Amy says: I'm wondering why you and your son felt the need to disclose his sexuality to your homophobic sister. Do straight 16-year-olds need to declare their sexuality to family members?
I suggest that the time for you to "protect" him might have been before this disclosure, by emphasizing to him that if he didn't feel ready to disclose this, he shouldn't have you do it.
Furthermore, you upped the ante by "uninviting" your sister and her kids to a family event you were hosting, because now she gets to focus on your behavior, instead of her own. You should have maintained that she is welcome to come to your house, but that she doesn't get to dictate who the other guests might be.
Now that you and your son have given your sister control over your personal lives, you should pull back from discussing it, and carry on being yourselves. If you want to spend time with her and her children, then invite them to do things with you and show an interest in seeing them. If she refuses, understand that she will simply have to get over herself.
If your sister has the gall to ask your son not to be gay in front of her children, you could ask her in return to stop spewing prejudice and hate in front of yours.
Drinking doesn't help
Dear Amy: I have been incredibly happy with my boyfriend of 18 months.
The issue lies when there's drinking involved. He gets aggressive quickly, and so will I. He points out things from our past that shouldn't have any bearing on our relationship now.
It has gotten to the point where, despite how much I love him, I cannot stick around. We have decided we must be apart in order to heal.
I would be open for couples counseling or something that will help us to salvage our relationship, but I simply don't know if that will be enough to change him.
Amy says: Changing your guy is not in the cards (for you). Changing him is his job.
You seem to have leapt over the most obvious shortcut to change: to stop drinking. No, you cannot get him to stop drinking, but you can stop, and you can choose sobriety as a condition if you two are going to be together.
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