Dad feels helpless to mend teenager’s crisis of identity

Published 2:49 pm Wednesday, August 5, 2020

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DEAR ABBY: My 14-year-old daughter recently came out of the closet, and it has made my husband and me quite upset. She says she is “bicurious, pansexual and polyamorous.” She now insists everyone call her by a gender-neutral name, gave herself a side shave and dyed her hair pink after we repeatedly told her not to. She wants us to refer to her as “they” and not “she.”
Boys used to like her, and she used to have friends, but she threw it all away to be “unique.” You may think we should let her be true to herself, but in the process, she is disrespecting us and ruining her image. She thinks she’s all grown up and can do whatever she wants, and I just can’t get through to her.
She is also letting herself go. She used to be in good shape, but she quit track and field because it was a “gender-conforming” sport. She is now getting chubby, looks horrible and is depressed. Help! — DAD WITHOUT ANSWERS
DEAR DAD: Your daughter may, indeed, be depressed. She’s at an age where she is trying to figure out who she is, and because she has lost her friends and her parents are mad at her, I can understand why.
It is very important that you not panic. Her hair will grow back; her gender identity and sexual orientation will be confirmed with time. The most important suggestion I can offer would be to love your daughter, stop criticizing her and make an appointment for you and your husband to talk with a psychologist with expertise in adolescents. Above all, she needs the support of her parents right now.
DEAR ABBY: I met this beautiful woman online three months ago. We haven’t met in person yet, but plan to. We spend at least eight hours a day online together, and our relationship has really advanced. I know she’s real and not a “catfish” because we talk about everything. We even tell each other the L word.
My dilemma is, she has a second Facebook account and absolutely refuses to accept my friend request. She says she needs her privacy, and it’s none of my business. She also tells me her friends on that page are all male co-workers. She said she prefers to have mostly male friends in her life.
Am I wrong to be upset if she refuses to let me see that profile or be one of her friends there? Am I asking too much? I asked her what happened to transparency, but she won’t answer that question either. What’s going on here? — STUCK ON HER IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR STUCK: Although you have spent a lot of time online with this woman, your relationship is still new. As your relationship proceeds, how will you feel about the fact that most of her friends are other men?
I DO think there is something going on, which is the reason she doesn’t want you to see that account. The most important question is: Do you trust her? You won’t know the answer to that until your relationship has developed further. So stop using the L word until you know her much, much better.
DEAR ABBY: My husband of 11 years told me that when his former mother-in-law dies, he would like to go to the funeral. He was friendly with her before he married her daughter. I’m not OK with this. What do you think? — UNUSUAL IN THE SOUTH
DEAR UNUSUAL: If your husband feels the need to pay his respects to his former mother-in-law, he should do it. And when he does, it would be nice if you were at his side, supporting him in his grief.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.comor P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order “How to Be Popular.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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