Dear Ann: I am a 32-year-old gay man and have been with my partner, "James," for five years. We are happy together and have visited my family on several occasions. My parents and siblings have been very supportive of our relationship. They think James is a wonderful person and are grateful to him for rescuing me from what was once a lonely life.
My brother is getting married soon and has asked me to be in the wedding party. His fiancee, "Melissa," says James is not invited, nor am I permitted to bring him. She told me: "It's bad enough that you are gay, but you are not going to force it on my family." (She didn't want me in the wedding party, but my brother insisted.)
I don't wish to attend this wedding without James, but it would hurt my brother terribly if I didn't show up. My parents think Melissa is out of line, but they say it is her wedding and there's nothing they can do about it. Please advise me. Ted in North Carolina
Dear Ted: Talk about the proverbial rock and a hard place this is it. Agree to be a member of the wedding party, but leave as soon as the ceremony is over. Your presence at the wedding will be a gift to your brother and your parents. I know they will appreciate it. (Perhaps Melissa will revise her ignorant, narrow-minded way of thinking when she gets to know you better. Let's hope so.)
Dear Ann: My 17-year-old daughter dropped out of school and got a job. While I did not approve of this, I helped support "Tessy" as long as she was doing something productive. Unfortunately, she quit her job and hasn't bothered to look for another one. I refuse to give her money and have told her she must go back to school or start working.
The problem is my mother. She keeps giving Tessy money, even though I have asked her not to. Two months ago, Tessy wanted some fancy and expensive procedure done to her hair. Her grandmother paid for it. I told Mom that Tessy will never stand on her own two feet if she keeps giving her money. My mother says she can give Tessy whatever she wants and it's none of my business.
I am so angry with my mother for undermining me that I can barely be civil to her. How can I get Mom to stop doing this? High Blood Pressure in Canada
Dear Canada: Unfortunately, your mother doesn't realize that what she considers "helping" Tessy is really ruining her. You say the girl has quit school. She should go back, graduate and go on to college or vocational school, if possible.
"Granny" believes she is befriending the girl, but the truth is, she's giving her a one-way ticket to nowhere. I pray Granny sees this column and backs off.
Dear Ann: Now that school has been in session for a while, here's a suggestion for parents. Tell your children to include an unpopular kid in their group tomorrow. They can invite a shy student to sit at their lunch table, or take the seat next to an unpopular boy on the bus. A friendly gesture could make a world of difference to a young person who feels unwanted and alone. And your child might discover that the shy girl or unpopular boy can become a good friend.
Parents should remind children how difficult school can be for those who have a hard time making friends. Any small act of kindness can be an enormous contribution to making this a better world. L.P. in Binghamton, N.Y.
Dear N.Y.: Kindness CAN be taught, and the earlier a child learns this, the better. Doing a good deed will make children feel better about themselves, and what could be more life-enhancing than that?