Dear Carolyn: My parents have invited the entire family, mine and my siblings', to fly to their home to celebrate a major life event. Everyone is invited to stay at their house except my son - they plan to get a motel room for him. Their problem is, my son is gay. He is married and plans to bring his husband along.
I have told my folks we would all stay in a motel, but they insist they have room for everyone except my one child.
I can understand they have different ideas from mine, but how do I balance their needs with the needs of my son? I feel incredibly protective of him, but I don't necessarily want to be "in your face" to my parents right now, either.
LOVING MOM OF A WONDERFUL SON
Wow. What does your son think of the outcast treatment?
Carolyn: My son is a peacemaker. He would agree to any arrangement that made other people happy. Maybe that's why I feel so protective of him - he doesn't always protect himself. I get that he is an adult, and I don't often involve myself in his concerns, but since these are my parents, I feel this one is my battle.
LOVING MOM AGAIN
Then fight it. Or don't, knowing you've bought your familial peace at the expense of this generous son.
You simply can't have both things you say you want here: You can't protect your son from your parents' cruelty and opt out of being " 'in your face' to my parents right now."
You can only choose to figure out what your values, conscience and sense of decency demand, and act accordingly - with the assurance that whatever consequences you set in motion with that choice are preferable to the ones you suffer when you do something you know isn't right.
Carolyn: My fiance and his daughter are very close. She is in her early 20s and comes over three times a week. They go to the gym, or play games and watch movies. He serves her dinner on the couch and brings her dessert, precut with a morsel on the spoon.
I live at his house and can join them if I want to. If we all go somewhere, they take souvenir photos together that don't include me. I told him that I feel humiliated when they do this. In our early years together, saying anything about this would end in a vicious fight with me being called jealous, insecure and immature.
I went to a counselor years ago. He said their intense attachment would fade. Ten years later, it hasn't happened.
When he is with his child, his face lights up.
Should I move out and break off our engagement? Am I displaying ugly jealousy and competitiveness?
This is your life. You are not married and you are not raising a minor child. You do what you want with your life. If you want to leave, then leave.
I hope you do - and give counseling another shot. Ten years is a long time to spend toughing it out, blaming yourself and watching your fiance's face not light up around you.
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