DEAR AMY: My 31-year-old son is gay. His father and I love him unconditionally. My mother is in her 80s, and our relationship has been challenging, but I have made an effort in recent years to avoid conflict with her. I told her about my son’s sexuality many years ago; since then we’ve avoided the topic. My son was visiting us about a year ago, and we invited my mother over for dinner. She began to rant about gay pride events in our city drawing an unseemly, lawless crowd. My son respectfully debated her points. She instantly escalated the argument, and began to say that gay people shouldn’t be allowed to be open about their sexuality, and they deserved any bad things that happen to them by being out. My son quietly sat there listening to this, but was clearly angry. My husband became agitated, and asked her to change the topic. I agreed and told her that she was being disrespectful. She stubbornly refused to change the subject, so my husband drove her home and we didn’t finish dinner. After she left, my son said he was “done” with her, and didn’t want to see her ever again. This broke my heart. My son won’t consider making amends with his grandmother, and he does not attend family events where she is present. I have tried several times to get my mother to apologize to him, and she says she has nothing to apologize for, and she’s entitled to her opinions. It feels like we will never resolve this, and I worry about my mother passing away with this conflict between them. Should I leave it alone? How can I go about getting the two of them in the same room again?
DEAR DEVASTATED: Your mother is certainly entitled to her opinions, and she seems equally comfortable with the consequence of expressing them. If she wanted things to be different with her grandson, she could convey this to you (or him), and you could then worry about how to get the two of them in a room together.
Same with your son. If he wanted things to be different, he could make an effort. And yet, why should he be forced or feel compelled to “make amends”? He has done nothing wrong — he is merely practicing your family specialty: avoidance.
As it is, you have tolerated your mother’s hatred and disrespect, and so now you are forced to also tolerate the discomfort this estrangement causes you.
You love both parties unconditionally. This is laudable. It seems that you will have to continue to love them each separately.
DEAR AMY: I broke up with my college boyfriend because there were so many things wrong with our relationship. There are various power struggles deep within the “power couple” facade. My ex-boyfriend always made our personal and professional life a competition. We always wanted to “one-up” each other. When I received an unbelievable job offer starting after graduation, he was upset that I had obtained his dream job. I’m worried that we’ll get back together just to keep up appearances. It has happened before. I’m scared that I’m not strong enough for the mess that will happen during the school year. We are co-directors at our elite school organization, co-executives in a professional organization and classmates. What should I do?
DEAR WORRIED: Over the course of your professional life, you will face other situations like this — from awkwardness with colleagues who have been passed over for promotions, to people who might attempt to undermine your success.
The way to exercise real power (versus the “power façade”) is to always act politely and appropriately in your public and professional life, refusing to engage in the adolescent drama of gossip or backstabbing.
If you get back together with someone who isn’t good for you, just for the sake of appearances, then you’ll only undermine your own success, saving your ex the trouble.
DEAR AMY: In a recent column, you made the comment “please don’t have one” regarding gender reveal parties for pregnant parents. That really ticked me off. Who asked you for THAT opinion? No one! Nice job trying to make people who have these feel bad about their own joy. What an asinine comment. Time to hang up your hat.
DEAR FURIOUS: Yes, I am staking a claim very much against so-called “gender reveals.”
Every once in a while, I sneak in an unsolicited opinion, just for the sake of the future of humanity.