DEAR AMY: My teenage daughter has a close friend named “Edward.” Edward used to be a girl and began transitioning to male last year. Their circle of friends has been intact for years, and they have all been very supportive of Edward. We are planning a slumber party for my daughter’s upcoming birthday. She would like to invite six girls plus Edward to spend the night. Normally, there would be no way that I’d allow a boy to spend the night, but this situation is very different. I don’t want to exclude or hurt Edward. I just don’t know what is appropriate. If we do invite him, must we tell the other parents that there will be a boy (although he’s biologically a girl) spending the night? I want to act with compassion, but still be prudent and responsible. Please advise?
DEAR MOM: I think that (almost no matter the question concerning your child’s plans) if you are worrying about telling other parents, or wondering whether to tell parents, then you should probably tell the parents.
I shared your question with Shannon Garcia, director of TransYouth Family Allies (imatyfa.org). She responded, “Often times, the topic of gender identity is a touchy one. People don’t know what to say or how to act in situations that differ from societal expectations. The best policy is to acknowledge everyone with equal dignity and respect.”
Garcia and I agree that you can let the parents know about the plans, saying, “The kids our daughter has invited are...” and then you list the names, including “Edward.” If this group of kids has been close for years, then you can assume that the parents know Edward, or know about him, and might be as unconcerned about this as their children presumably are.
If a parent has a problem with this, they can speak to their own child, and their teenager will educate, correct, and convince them (or will go to the mat, trying), as teenagers have been doing since the dawn of time.
We are all in something of a transition, as we reconsider gender and encounter more people like Edward. This will become easier for everyone.
DEAR AMY: Earlier this year, I posted some comments on Facebook regarding our political leadership that were rather pointed and incendiary. I recently learned that some good friends of my wife and me, who we know to hold different political views, took deep offense to my comments, and have been avoiding contact with us since. I am saddened by this, as I value this longtime friendship. On the other hand, I am struggling with how to proceed, as my comments were not made hastily and continue to reflect my feelings on the matter. Is there a way to salvage this friendship?
DEAR TORN: You characterize your comments as “incendiary.” If there is something about the way you expressed your views that you regret, then you should express your regret to these friends, and apologize. You might say, “I understand that comments I made earlier this year offended you. I’m very sorry about that, and wish I had chosen a different way to express my opinion.”
You obviously feel that your basic opinion is unchanged, and nothing for which you need to apologize.
If you don’t intend to apologize for offending these friends, you might be able to salvage this relationship by stating that you miss being in touch with them, along with the hope that you can resume your friendship and simply agree to disagree.
Your friends might well believe in every person’s intrinsic right to their own political opinions, but might not want to maintain a friendship with someone who is boorish or deliberately incendiary in a public forum. If this describes you, then they are exercising their own judgment and their right to keep their distance.
DEAR AMY: Your advice to “Frustrated!” was on the mark, but I would go further to say that her husband is seemingly not self-directed and is looking for direction on how to pitch in at home. With enough direction, he will become self-directed. I was a similarly clueless boyfriend/husband. It was only when my then-wife stopped doing almost all household chores that I figured out quickly what needed to get done if the kids were to be fed and off to school, laundry done, etc. My current wife is ecstatic when I ask, “How can I help?”
DEAR SELF-DIRECTED: I love it that your ex-wife basically trained you to be a better husband. Props to you for figuring things out.