Life Advice


Health & Spirit

Mother's pursuit may be pushing son away

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: My college-aged son and his male friend, "Randall," were staying with us at our vacation home this summer. This was the first time we had met Randall.

Late one night, I went downstairs, assuming they had left the TV on and had gone to bed, and walked in on them in a state of undress during an intimate moment.

Both of them panicked, and Randall decided to leave the next morning. My son was very upset, and told me that nothing was going on. I told him several times that if he's gay (or not sure), that's OK, and he got very angry, said he was not gay, that he liked girls, and that I was "exaggerating" what I saw. He even called me a liar. Needless to say, the rest of our visit together was tense.

I have tried several more times to get my son to talk to me about this and he won't. He even threatened to not come home at Thanksgiving if I brought it up again. I am worried about him repressing, or living in denial. My husband thinks I need to let it go, and just pretend it didn't happen, but that feels very unhealthy.

What should I do?

-- Mother

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Dear Mother: I grew up in one of those New England families where an elephant could be grazing in the living room and my mother would calmly ask about the weather. But there are times when this behavior of quietly waiting to discuss something important seems less like repression and more like patience. You should try it.

Take the question of sexual identity out of this, and imagine what it would feel like at that (or any) age to be caught in flagrante delicto by your mother. Your mother. Mom. Mommy.

Most older adolescents don't really want a maternal witness to much of anything they do, which is why so much of the doing happens away from home and on college campuses.

Imagine that you had accidentally witnessed your son being sexual with a female friend. Would he want to discuss this at length with you? I doubt it.


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