Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: My husband and I are retired in our mid-60s, in relatively good health and financially independent. Our two adult children, who are in their early 40s, live in neighboring midwestern states. Both hold professional jobs. Our son, “Chad” is married, a doctor with young children, and doing quite well. Our daughter, “Carol,” is single and a well-paid university administrator. Carol is unhappy with her job, and has been actively looking to move to the West Coast. We’re planning to move near Chad within the next two years. Carol has said that she wants us to live with or near her when we get older. She’s always been closest to me, has struggled with low self-esteem and anxiety and is somewhat of a hypochondriac, which I think can partially be attributed to stress and depression. I believe her worries about not having a boyfriend or husband are causing her to project her insecurities onto us. I would always be available to help her out, whether she’s single or married, or has kids of her own, but in my “golden years,” quite frankly, given a choice, I’d rather live by our son, who is more emotionally stable. He’s also our legal representative, and we want to enjoy being around our grandchildren. I’m afraid about hurting Carol’s feelings, but I feel we need to let her know our plans about moving to be near her brother. My husband and I had recent health scares, which is creating more of a sense of urgency. Our kids are not especially close, so I doubt they’ve discussed this with each other. Should we talk to them together, or separately? What would be the best way to tell Carol that we love her, but given her uncertain situation, we plan to live by her brother?

Making Choices

DEAR CHOICES: “We love you, but given your uncertain situation, we plan to live by your brother,” puts your choice squarely in “Carol’s” corner — as if your choice of where to live is somehow her fault or responsibility.

The decision of where to live in your elder years is up to you. It is completely your responsibility. If your decision causes your daughter to feel ignored or neglected by you, please remember that your job is not to take care of your capable and successful daughter for the rest of your lives. It is natural to worry about hurting her feelings, but you are not responsible for managing her feelings — she is.

Make your plans like the capable adults you are. Let your daughter know in person or by phone. Present your plan in a positive, no-nonsense way. Don’t fill in any details about why she is an inadequate caretaker, but say to her, “This is the best option for us, and of course we’ll continue to visit you and welcome visits from you as long as possible.” If she wants or needs to be near you, perhaps she would consider relocating, too.

DEAR AMY: I am a 19-year-old woman. I left home a year ago to live with other relatives, because I have a secret. The secret is that I am bisexual. I wanted to tell my parents, but they found out that my cousin is gay and started to make derogatory remarks about him. My family is my life, but I know that if I told them about me, our relationship would be over. What should I do?

Hopelessly Lost

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DEAR LOST: You see your sexuality as a “secret,” while I see your sexuality as “your business.”

Have your folks discussed their sexuality with you recently? Or ever? If not, then you should not feel compelled to discuss yours with them until you feel ready. Being in a serious relationship might compel you to come out to them.

You will be ready to disclose this when you finally feel confident that you either don’t care about your folks’ reaction, or you are able to state, “I’m not ashamed and I won’t apologize for being who I am. I hope you’ll be supportive.”

If/when this happens, your parents might surprise you.

DEAR AMY: I’d like to thank you for a small moment in your response to “Concerned Sister,” who was worried about her sister being dominated by future in-laws. You objected to the term “man-up” when referring to the man’s need to be less passive.

A Fan

DEAR FAN: I also loathe the currently popular phrase, “pull up your big girl panties.”