Protecting My Kids From My Parents
Dear Annie: Let me start off by saying I got married at 19 and divorced at 24. My ex-husband and I had three kids during this time, two females and one male. I got remarried at 26 and had a son. My second husband already had three girls from previous relationships. One of his girls I have never met because her mom moved to Texas, however, his other daughters and I get along great.
When we got married, his daughters were 16 and 23. My husband and I have a 20-year age gap between us. We have now been together for 10 years. His youngest daughter is bisexual and has three kids of her own, and his older daughter has transitioned to a man, so now he's technically my stepson. I have never had a problem with this.
A few weeks ago, my youngest daughter, who is 12, told me she was gay, and then said she was joking. I told her if she decides one day it isn't a joke that I will love her no matter what and accept that. Well, today she told me she is bisexual. Again, as long as she is happy, I don't care.
Well, my parents are VERY conservative Christians and are always talking about my now-stepson, making rude comments, saying I need to call him a "her," etc. My daughter hasn't come out to them, and I know they will try to "pray away the gay." I want to respectfully tell them to accept her and get over it, or get lost until they can. Also, let me add that a few days ago, we went out to eat with my parents, and my daughter was making a bracelet with colors of the bisexual pride flag for her friend at school. They saw it and started to say how disappointed they were in her for hanging out with a bi kid and that she shouldn't participate in anything related to that.
How do I respectfully tell my parents to accept my kids or get lost? -- Stressed Out Mom
Dear Stressed Out: First, a big shoutout to you and your husband for being wonderful, supportive parents. I can tell you've created a home where your beautiful blended family feels loved and comfortable being themselves, and talking to you about what's going on in their lives.
Some of the time, unacceptance stems from a lack of understanding. Start by talking to your folks one-on-one to explain your children's perspectives and identities, what some of the terminology they may not be familiar with means. Remind them that no matter what, their grandchildren are still exactly the same people they've always been at the core -- if anything, now more authentically themselves -- and as long as they are happy and safe, none of the other details should concern them.
If, after a serious conversation, they are still unwilling to budge, let them know they are not welcome in your kids' lives until they do. Being a teen is hard enough without feeling inadequate and judged by those who should be in your corner. Until your parents are able to treat your children as fairly and lovingly as they once did, they should keep their distance from the family altogether.
"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane's second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com.