Help! Should I Tell My Homophobic Family That Grandma Was Gay?

Advice on manners and morals.
April 2 2013 6:15 AM

Grandma’s “Best Friend"

In a live chat, Prudie offers advice on whether a conservative family should be told their matriarch was actually gay.

(Continued from Page 1)

Q. Telling a Friend About His Ex's Engagement: A couple of years ago one of my friends began dating one of my wife's friends. Things got serious fast. Then things got seriously bad and they broke up in a spectacular fashion. My wife's friend cut off all contact with my friend, banning him from seeing her Facebook page and other various social-media accounts. Cut off from keeping tabs on her electronically, my friend often asked me for updates on her life, gossip that I always found a way to dodge (I didn't want to be involved). The one thing he asked, though, was to tell him if she ever started seeing someone new so he could have "closure." Well, she's recently engaged, and my wife and I are invited to the wedding. Prudie, it's been more than two years now, and though he appears over her, I'm afraid he'll go into a funk if I mention her pending nuptials. I'm going to have to mention it at some point, but how do I tell him?

A: Your friend sounds somewhat wacko on this subject and you should not give him any information about your wife's friend. I'd be afraid the "closure" would involve something along the lines of, "If I can't have you, no one else can." So don't volunteer anything. If he hears something through the grapevine and comes to you, just tell him, "You two broke up years ago, so I'm not having conversations about her anymore."

Advertisement

Q. Abortion: My husband and I have been together for eight years, and we've been married for four. We have one daughter, about to turn 4, we both have stable jobs and a small, but nice house that we can afford. We live paycheck to paycheck, but through budgeting and a little outside help, we are relatively stable financially, barring any unforeseen circumstances. Well, I was just handed an unforeseen circumstance—I'm pregnant. I'm on the pill, but my period is one week late, which is exactly what happened four years ago when I got pregnant with my daughter. I don't want to have another baby. I had a difficult pregnancy, and while sometimes I feel bad for my daughter growing up as an only child, I was an only child and turned out fine. If I were single and this happened, I would have no problem going to Planned Parenthood to end the pregnancy. We might be able to afford another child, but things will become more difficult, both financially for our family but also emotionally for me. Even though my husband says he doesn't mind having no more kids, if I tell him I'm pregnant I'm afraid he may never forgive me if I have an abortion. My question is, should I tell him that I'm pregnant? Or should I simply go to Planned Parenthood and keep it to myself?

A: Think of what it says about the quality of your marriage that you would consider keeping something so profound from your husband. I hope on second thought, you will be able to conclude that your husband is the kind of partner who can talk this out fully with you and that you two can mutually arrive at a decision. That doesn't mean that if you have an abortion there may not be regret and sadness for each of you. But it would seem crucial that your emotional intimacy requires you to be able to support each other through this. Whatever you decide, tell your gynecologist it's time for a different form of birth control.

Q. Re: Grandma's Secret: Perhaps the LW should show copies to her mother, not the originals. That seems like the sort of secret her mother might want to keep hidden—possibly to the point of destroying the evidence on Grandma's behalf.

A: That's a good idea. Showing the mother a sheaf of copies will ensure grandmother's story does not end up in the fireplace.

Q. When to Tell?: I am a mother of three kids and my husband and I are now expecting No. 4. This was planned. I am still in the very early stages, so I won't be announcing for a while. Getting pregnant has come easily to me and we have been blessed with smooth pregnancies. My question stems from a possible situation. A dear friend has been trying to get pregnant for a while and has had multiple miscarriages. She has been working with her doctor and with that, we are expecting an announcement pretty soon from her. If this happens we will be delivering children within weeks of each other. I have concerns as to when to tell her that I am pregnant. I don't want to rain on her parade, and what happens if she miscarries again? She has been very sweet and helpful through the other pregnancies and loves my children, but I don't want to be insensitive to her plight.

A: Good for your friend for being able to celebrate your good fortune in the midst of what must be terrible pain for her. What you do is continue to act like a normal person around her while being sensitive to what she's going through. If you usually wait until at least the third month to announce your pregnancy, then do so again. Whatever your friend's pregnancy status, you keep the news low key without acting as if you're sorry to be so lucky. If she does have wonderful news herself and does deliver about the same time as you, do not worry about raining on her parade. Just delight that your baby and hers will be playmates.

Q. Re: Overbearing parents: My mother can be exactly as you discussed, although luckily she does not live nearby. Now that I have a child, it's actually a lot easier to stand up to her when she questions/nags, etc. I just say my husband and I have decided this with regard to our child and that's final. And in a way, now that I have a child, it's made it a lot easier to blow off the other forceful comments from her because I tend to point out to myself that it doesn't matter. I've told her now several times that I will terminate conversations on certain topics, and I'm starting to actually do it.

A: Good to hear. Although it's crucial that if you say you're going to terminate conversations you then hang up the phone when the abuse starts. People like these mothers needs constant enforcement. Better to be too strict than too lax.

Q. Teenage Boys and Their Lack of Drive in the Classroom: I have a 16-year-old son who is wonderful, loving and kind. My only concern about him is his lack of drive in the classroom. He is an average student. I've never been a "helicopter" parent and I've always believed that he will land where he needs to be, college-wise. But I wonder if I could be doing more to help and guide him. He's just happy and he's absolutely fine with B's. Actually thrilled. Should I just be pleased with his school results or should I push? That's what I can't figure out. I don't want to make him feel bad about himself when he has such great other qualities. I know I'm not the only parent who is dealing with this. I'd appreciate any suggestions.

A: There are plenty of great colleges for the B student, and I'm sure many parents dealing with children who lack drive in the classroom would be ecstatic to have a kid who gets B’s. But not hovering doesn't mean you don't want him to have the best choices. While praising the good work he does do, you can talk to him about classes he is particularly interested in and ask if there are ways he can put in some more focused effort, particularly in the coming school year. Say you know grades aren't the be all ("B" all?) and end all, but you think he'd be gratified to see some extra effort recognized by his teachers. Then it's up to him to implement your suggestions.

Emily Yoffe: Thanks, everyone. Talk to you next week.

Our commenting guidelines can be found here.

Emily Yoffe is a regular Slate contributor. She writes the Dear Prudence column. 

TODAY IN SLATE

The World

The Budget Disaster that Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

Are the Attacks in Canada a Sign of ISIS on the Rise in the West?

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

Is It Offensive When Kids Use Bad Words for Good Causes?

Fascinating Maps Based on Reddit, Craigslist, and OkCupid Data

Culturebox

The Real Secret of Serial

What reporter Sarah Koenig actually believes.

Culturebox

The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

In Praise of 13th Grade: Why a Fifth Year of High School Is a Great Idea

Can Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu Pull Off One More Louisiana Miracle?

  News & Politics
Foreigners
Oct. 23 2014 3:47 PM Ukraine’s Slow Descent Into Madness While it fights rebels in the east, Kiev is beginning to crumble from the inside.
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 23 2014 2:36 PM Take a Rare Peek Inside the Massive Data Centers That Power Google
  Life
Atlas Obscura
Oct. 23 2014 1:34 PM Leave Me Be Beneath a Tree: Trunyan Cemetery in Bali
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 11:33 AM Watch Little Princesses Curse for the Feminist Cause
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 3:23 PM This Is What Bette Midler Covering TLC’s “Waterfalls” Sounds Like
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 23 2014 11:45 AM The United States of Reddit  How social media is redrawing our borders. 
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 23 2014 7:30 AM Our Solar System and Galaxy … Seen by an Astronaut
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.