DEAR AMY: My 16-year-old daughter identifies as "gender fluid." Sometimes she dresses traditionally feminine, and sometimes she dresses more traditionally masculine and asks her friends to refer to her as a "he." When she dresses masculine, she wears a breast binder under her clothing. Unfortunately she inherited my DDD figure, and her binder doesn't fit her body well. When she wears it under a tight-fitting shirt, it looks awkward and definitely not masculine. She is saving money to buy a better-fitting binder, but they're expensive and I don't have any extra money to put toward it. I've gently suggested that she add a sweatshirt when she wears it to school, but I think she thinks I'm being intolerant. No matter how she decides to live her life, I feel like part of my job as her mother is to help her at least be presentable and appropriate, but how do I do that without sounding judgmental? If she wears a low-cut feminine shirt, I make her wear a tank top underneath, but she is much less amenable to suggestion when she dresses as a male. Suggestions?
DEAR MOM: I believe your daughter's gender identification has created a red herring that makes this whole issue seem more complicated than it is.
Your child is 16.
And having a fashion fit.
Since time immemorial, mothers have been trying to influence their teens' fashion choices -- always in the interest of what is most tasteful, attractive, flattering or appropriate.
A teen's reaction is to reject this well-intentioned advice and cast it as judgmental and disrespectful.
(Back in fashion's Stone Age, this resulted in a certain teenage girl carrying her miniskirt to school in a brown paper bag and changing in the bathroom before school.) Make whatever suggestion you want, knowing that it is your right to do so, and knowing that your child will probably reject it. If your teen's fashion choices don't violate an institutional dictum at school, then cover your eyes and let it go.
DEAR AMY: I found out a while ago that my boyfriend had a "friends with benefits" relationship with someone 16 years older. The first time I heard about it I ignored him for a day. Didn't acknowledge him, didn't talk to him and felt disgusted by him. I know guys have stupid, weird and crazy fantasies about older women. I finally got over it because I realized how much I love him. This topic came up again the other day while we were having dinner with one of my friends. I told my boyfriend out loud how disgusting it was. That woman was almost old enough to be his mom! He said he liked it because she had "the body of an 18-year-old." Somehow I sense a little pride in what he did and I want to puke. We haven't talked further about this because I know it will just turn into a bigger fight. Why did he do this? Should I just try never to think of it again?
DEAR DISGUSTED: I'm assuming that your boyfriend was of legally consenting age when he had this relationship with the older woman and that the relationship occurred before you two got together.
Refusing to speak with your boyfriend when you have a conflict is like sulking in a corner. Declaring a relationship he enjoyed to be "disgusting" makes you sound petty, ageist and jealous.
You should probably let this go -- otherwise your behavior makes a strong argument for him to be in a relationship with someone more mature.
And we already know he likes older women.
DEAR AMY: Your advice to the adopted woman "Curious" should have had more empathy toward the birth mother she had reached out to. Possible rejection by the half-siblings is a minor issue compared to the damage she will inflict on the family relationship and the birth mother's secret for over 40 years.
DEAR DISAPPOINTED: "Curious" was absolutely determined to contact members of her birth family, regardless of the consequences. I urged her to prepare for a negative outcome.