Ask Amy: Family is fighting over transgender child
Dear Amy: My husband and I have a 7-year-old grandson that his mother has been dressing as a girl. His mother refers to him as a “her” and uses a girl’s name.
She also wants the school to refer to him as a her (he has been having outbursts at school).
My son shares custody with his ex. The child’s mother feels she is doing what is right for him and argues with any other suggestions.
My grandson has seen a court-appointed therapist to make a decision on his gender issues because when he is at my son’s house or our house, he immediately changes clothes and gets upset if anyone sees him wearing girl’s clothes.
We have told him that if he doesn’t want to wear girl’s clothes at his mother’s, he must tell her.
He says he wants to wear girl’s clothes, but his actions say otherwise. The mother has told us to not cut his hair — and lawyers advise us to go along with her. But his hair is out of control — he has to lift it or hold it out of his eyes. He has said he asked his mom to get it cut, but with COVID-19 she could not get it done. Now his mom is saying that we are pressuring him to get it cut.
Should we get him on camera asking/saying he wants it cut? Should we take him to get it cut? Or should we just hope that she will take him?
Yes, we would like to see his hair short, but at this point we just want him to be able to see and not have to hold it up.
What should we do? — Gamma
Dear Gamma: You should open your arms and love this child without pressuring them (I’m using the gender-neutral pronoun) to be any different than they already are. While with you, let the child choose and wear any clothing they want to wear on that particular day.
Don’t ask loaded questions, don’t press this child about their clothing, hair, or anything else. Do NOT interrogate or interview them on camera. Just be grandparents, for goodness sake. No child has ever needed loving, neutral, accepting grandparents more than this child does. So take on that role and BE that.
If your grandchild’s hair falls into their eyes, offer to let them pick out a hat, a headband, a “scrunchi,” hair clips, or anything else they might want to use to hold the hair back. And if the child doesn’t want to use any of these things, that should be OK, too. Do NOT cut the child’s hair.
The child’s father should be in charge of navigating the “official” aspects of this along with his ex, including any and all responses to gender/clothing/hair issues.
Things are bad enough for your grandchild that the court has appointed a therapist to step in. All of the adults in this child’s life should meet with the therapist and follow the suggested guidelines.
Dear Amy: My wife and I have good friends whom we see relatively often.
Over the years, we’ve noticed that “John” tends to want to control “Laura.”
He will answer questions for her when she is clearly asked directly about a personal experience. He sometimes seems disrespectful when she speaks her mind.
Recently, my wife texted Laura a question and the response came in from John. We have always suspected that he reads her texts, but he actually responded for her, referring to her in the response!
We checked to make sure she had Laura’s correct number and it was not a group text. Should we respect their relationship choices to share everything? Do we say nothing?
My wife and I are willing to risk the consequence of potentially losing the friendship because quite frankly we are creeped out.
Can you help? — Creeped Out
Dear Creeped: Your wife should respond in a natural and honest way: “John? Do you read ‘Laura’s’ texts? And you are answering for her? Is she OK? In the future, I’d prefer that if I contact her, I hear back from her.”
Dear Amy: “Frustrated Mom” provided yet another example of parents who’ve had adult children move in without paying rent or doing simple chores around the house.
I’ll bet anything most of these parents never brought up the subject in the first place. Believing that adulthood will bring with it mature thinking on the part our offspring is just begging for disappointment. — For What it’s Worth
Dear Worth: YES!