DEAR ABBY: We are expecting our first child after many years of struggling with infertility. We are overjoyed, to say the least.
I have a wonderful parent who used to be my father but who now identifies as a woman I’ll call “Grace.” She’s a supportive, loving, wonderful parent, and always was.
The problem is, the rest of the family has yet to see her transition. They are aware of what has happened, but are not comfortable with it. One family member keeps insisting that Grace is not transgender, just “confused.” She says that if she ever saw Grace dressed as a woman, she would laugh.
When it comes to a celebration for our bundle of joy, how do I handle this? I can’t imagine having the celebration without Grace, and I wouldn’t dream of asking her to dress as a male because I know how uncomfortable she would be. But I’m afraid if she attends, none of the other family will come because they are so uncomfortable. — TRANSPARENT IN NEVADA
DEAR TRANSPARENT: Grace is not “confused.” People do not change their gender identity on a lark. The transition is time-consuming and difficult. Grace deserves to be treated with compassion and common courtesy. Make this clear to your family members. If you feel that one or more of them would be so rude as to ridicule your parent, strike them from your guest list.
DEAR ABBY: My husband has not been in good health for years. He had an accident in 2007 in which his left arm was broken. The doctor did many surgeries over seven years, but he had to have it amputated in 2014.
Ten months ago, he suffered a debilitating stroke in the left lobe of his brain. He now has aphasia, the inability to use his right hand and arm, a loss of balance and he cannot walk unassisted. He must have help in all areas of daily living. I placed him in a rehab center, then into a nursing home.
The problem is, I feel so guilty about leaving him there. He isn’t happy and he blames me for keeping him there. I visit as often as possible, but it isn’t often enough for him I am sure. I am so disappointed. This is not the life that I had planned. Would you please tell me how to stop blaming myself, and how to accept this situation? — SORRY IN THE SOUTH
DEAR SORRY: My heart goes out to you and your husband. Not everyone is so fortunate as to live the life they have planned. If you haven’t already done so, it may be time to reach out to your Area Agency on Aging and talk to someone there about what emotional support services may be available near you. The Eldercare Locator, which is sponsored by the U.S. Administration on Aging, is another resource.
Counseling can help you learn to accept this “new normal” and lessen your feelings of guilt for making a decision that, while not pleasant, is what your husband now requires so his needs are met. It will, however, be your responsibility to stay close and ensure that happens.
DEAR ABBY: There is conflict between two of my four adult children. They no longer speak to one another over some silly, childish issues. Should I, as the parent, interfere and try to resolve these issues? — PEACEMAKER IN PHILADELPHIA
DEAR PEACEMAKER: Resist the urge to “interfere.” Your desire to patch things up is understandable, but because your children are adults, it should be up to them to resolve their differences without your intervention.