DEAR ABBY: My 7-year-old granddaughter, “Leyla,” has a playmate who is a transgender girl. My fear is that she may find out the truth and feel betrayed by her playmate as well as me. Should I explain it to her?
It doesn’t matter to me that her friend is transgender because I have always believed that a person’s most important trait is having good morals. I’m an upfront and honest person. However, with respect to this subject, I feel that if I remain silent, it’s as though I’m somehow betraying my granddaughter.
Leyla is very accepting of all people, and I don’t believe it would change her relationship with the child as long as I explain everything to her about people who are trans. Any advice would be appreciated. — PROGRESSIVE GRAN IN ARIZONA
DEAR GRAN: Do Leyla’s parents know about the friendship? Assuming they do, have a chat with them, as well as the playmate’s parents, to make sure you’re all on the same page. I do not think you should “out” Leyla’s playmate to her. But I DO think it is time you start talking to your granddaughter about gender and what makes a girl a girl and what makes a boy a boy.
At some point, her friend may feel comfortable enough about the friendship — and herself — to tell Leyla herself. When that happens, be prepared to answer any questions your granddaughter may have. PFLAG, an organization I have mentioned before in my column, is an excellent resource for LGBTQ issues and will be helpful to you if you reach out. Its website is pflag.org.
DEAR ABBY: My worst fear has come true. My daughter just became engaged to someone we do not approve of. They have been together for three years, and it has been three years of drama — from not working because they have to be together 24/7 to domestic violence. Must I attend the wedding? Should I help her plan it? She is my first born and I adore her, but I feel she is making a huge mistake. — RELUCTANT IN OHIO
DEAR RELUCTANT: I am going to assume that you have expressed your feelings and concerns to your daughter. If that’s the case, then you must accept that she is an adult and capable of making her own decisions.
Should you help plan the wedding? Yes, as long as you are not paying for it. Should you attend even though you don’t approve of her choice of husband? Absolutely! If he’s a violent abuser, she is going to need family around her so she doesn’t become isolated and totally under his control. Her life could depend on it.
DEAR ABBY: Sadly, my son passed away (suicide), leaving his two younger sisters. I am often asked how many children I have, and I’m never sure how to respond. I feel it would be disrespectful to my son’s memory if I don’t include him. However, if I do, it invariably leads to more questions than I care to answer. Any insight would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. — REMEMBERING HIM
DEAR REMEMBERING: I am sorry for your loss. While a question about children is a way people often use to establish a common bond, it can be an emotionally loaded one. Consider offering this response: “I have three children. One of them is in heaven.” If you are pressed further, it would not be impolite to respond that the subject is painful and you would rather not discuss it.
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.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in “What Every Teen Should Know.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)