Dear Abby: Woman withdraws from parents, before and after coming out

While trying to come to terms with their college-age daughter being gay, Mom and Dad are disturbed that she’s shutting them out.

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DEAR ABBY: Our college-age daughter has been withdrawn and depressed for some time. During a recent visit, after asking her several times what was wrong, encouraging her to continue counseling and expressing general concern for her, I finally asked her (again) if she was gay. She broke down and said she was.

She seems conflicted by it, relieved we didn’t disown her (she has friends whose parents dropped them), but she still seems very distant. I thought once the burden of coming out was off her shoulders she would be happier, but she barely spoke to us the last day she was here. We both told her we love her, we hugged her and, although shocked by her revelation, we are trying to come to terms with her being gay.

We are not perfect but feel we are doing all we can. She still seems depressed and withdrawn. What can we do to help her? I am more upset about her shutting us out than her being gay. I have been in tears thinking our daughter dropped us and doesn’t want us around. She doesn’t want the rest of the family to know yet. This is confusing for us, too. Help! — HURTING FOR OUR DAUGHTER

DEAR HURTING: Because someone comes out to a parent does not mean that all the person’s problems magically disappear. Your daughter may suffer from chronic depression that has nothing to do with her sexual orientation. That you have encouraged her to continue with counseling is appropriate. Badgering her to come out to you may have been less so.

Your daughter will have to find her own way in the journey to explore and accept who she is. Please allow her the space to do that without obsessing over the thought that she has “dropped” you. And do NOT inform the family about what she told you! Respect her privacy. She should have the right to disclose the information in her own time if she chooses.

DEAR ABBY: My daughter has been married just over a year and recently has been blessed with a beautiful baby girl. They also share full custody of her husband’s 6-year-old daughter.

Both work full time. I’m retired and have offered my help for day care and transportation to school for the older child on certain days. My son-in-law’s mother has agreed to take the other two days that are needed for care. She doesn’t work either, and cares for another son’s child.

The issue is, she charges for the care she gives her grandchildren. I’m not comfortable with this arrangement. Am I wrong to be angry and insist that I assume full-time responsibility for the care of my grandchildren? My daughter doesn’t want to burden me. I’m fully committed to shouldering these responsibilities and would love every minute of it. However, I have serious concerns that the mother-in-law will resent me and my daughter if I demand to take on full-time care. — FREE-OF-CHARGE GRANDMA

DEAR FREE-OF-CHARGE GRANDMA: If the other grandma needs the money she is being given for child care, you’re darn tootin’ she’s going to resent you for undercutting her. Make your proposal to your daughter, but the final decision about child care rests with her and her husband.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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