Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: Nine months ago our daughter, a sophomore in college, told us she had a girlfriend and thought she was bisexual. It didn’t go over well, and I called one of my siblings (there are six of us) to ask for help and support. I asked my daughter if she wanted me to tell family members. She was emphatic that this was a private journey for her. My sister asked me if she could tell our other siblings. I repeated what my daughter said. I also stated that my husband and I would rather not make any of this public until we all felt we were ready to do so. Three days later, that sister visited two other sisters and told them my daughter was gay. A short while later one of those sisters told another sister and also our mother. When I confronted the initial rumor-spreading sister, she told me I was “engaging in destructive dialogue” and wouldn’t talk further with me. She has not apologized. I am beside myself with anguish over this betrayal of trust, and I do not know that I can ever forgive my sisters for their extreme callousness, insensitivity and lack of compassion. Also, I have no idea what to tell my daughter (who is currently dating a boy). She and I are seeing a therapist together. Any advice?
Brokenhearted Sister and Mother
DEAR BROKENHEARTED: Why are you brokenhearted? Is it because your daughter’s sexuality may be different from yours? Or is it because you feel guilty for violating her privacy with a family member? Your daughter’s sexuality is no one’s business, including yours. She was generous to share this with you.
You need to untangle your feelings. You should start with a simple admission and apology to your daughter. Do not apologize for other family members.
Secondly, it would help if you were able to see this not as a tragedy, but as a transition into adulthood.
Your message to your daughter should be, “I love you as you are; however you are.”
It’s really that simple.
In terms of your sister, her statement that you are “engaging in destructive dialogue” makes me think she’s read a self-help book or two. Perhaps she would like to join you for a session in your therapist’s office.
DEAR AMY: One of my family members likes to leave a vehicle at my place for the winter. I have not asked for money. As time went on, I was thinking this wasn’t right, so I checked around at the local storage places nearby and got several quotes. Many were more than $500 to $600 for winter storage. I decided to charge $200 and thought that was plenty fair. That family member insists that I should not charge family. I don’t see it that way. After this person drops off the vehicle, I don’t see him again until summer. We aren’t close. What’s your take?
DEAR STORAGE: Family members who don’t want to pay for things that other people normally shell out money for always seem to cling to the homespun rule that you shouldn’t charge family members for services.
Your choice is completely contingent on your relationship to this specific person. If you two were close and if you felt he valued your relationship, you’d likely be happy to do him this favor.
If he doesn’t want to be charged, he should find ways to endear himself to you quickly, because that vehicle might get really rusty out in the weather next winter. Otherwise, yes, $200 sounds like a fair “friends and family discount.”
If you do charge your family member, basically renting a storage space to him, does that make you liable for any loss/damage to the car while it is stored on your place? Make sure any agreement between you two waives you of all liability.
DEAR AMY: “Worried” wrote to you about her boyfriend’s impending deployment with the National Guard. There are a lot of resources available for her. Her boyfriend’s unit should have a Family Readiness Group that provides information and support before and during deployment. There are a lot of social media groups she can join — I am in three military mom Facebook groups. Being in a military family has a lot of scary moments, but it also means you are part of a larger “family” that truly knows the meaning of “got your 6.”
DEAR ARMY MOM: Military spouses are a tough and supportive group of hometown heroes.