Life Advice



Ask Amy: Aunt is triggered by trans teen’s trauma

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

I've found S a therapist, while I am still looking for one myself.

We have invested so much it trying to get S to a stable and healthy place, but interactions often leave me feeling regressed to previous levels of self-doubt and frustration.

I am trying to treat S the way I would want to be treated.

How do I get through to S that I need to be treated the same?

– Uncertain Aunt

Dear Uncertain: First of all – thank you for being a hero to this young person. What you are doing is huge.


I’m assuming that you don’t have other children/teens in your life, because if you were a more seasoned parent, you would understand that much of what you are experiencing is fairly typical behavior of an older teen.

You are expecting to have a series of rich and rewarding dialogues with “S,” where you relate to them by sharing your own experiences, and where you both benefit from a deep and enlightening relationship.

But a typical 18-year-old mainly wants to narrate their own life. When they talk (and it’s great when they talk), they’re monologuing more than dialoguing.

People at this age are at the cusp of emerging fully in the world, and before they go, they want to get their story straight. This helps them settle into their identity, while they’re still safe and taken care of.


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