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DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a 30-year-old lesbian who just proposed to my girlfriend. I had never come out to any of my family; I really didn’t feel the need to because I’ve never been close to any of them. Now that I’m engaged to a woman, everyone has something negative to say about it. I love my family even though we’re not close, but I need them to accept me and my fiancee as a couple. How do I approach this with my family, knowing they disagree with it? — Accept Us
DEAR ACCEPT US: Because you never revealed your sexual identity to your family, news of your engagement has opened up the range of emotions they have about you, your fiancee and your life. You set yourself up for this criticism by not talking to your family about your life earlier.
The good news is that it’s not too late to clear the air. You may want to handle this in two parts. Start by calling a family meeting. Consider it an informational gathering. Tell them that you are sorry that you didn’t confide in them earlier about your life, but it wasn’t personal. You are a private person, and you didn’t want to be judged. Now that you have made a choice as to how and with whom you want to live your life, you would like to have their blessing and support. Tell them you want to introduce them to your fiancee, and you hope they will be kind to her. Ask them to give you that much.
Be prepared to talk through their thoughts and feelings. Allow them to speak their minds, even if it is hard to hear. Everyone needs to feel that they can be honest in order for you to stand a chance at seeing them welcome your fiancee.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My 23-year-old daughter is aspiring to be an Instagram model. I have worked hard to make sure she got through college with no debt, and now that she has a degree in education and no student loan debt, she wants to use her savings to move to Los Angeles, take Instagram pictures and vlog about it. This makes no sense to me; she was supposed to become a teacher like me. How do I convince her to find a real job in education like we planned? — Be Like Mom
DEAR BE LIKE MOM: You may not be able to convince your daughter to follow in your footsteps, but perhaps you can give her some perspective on the choices she is about to make. If she ever wants to start a career as a teacher, she should think twice about becoming an Instagram model. Commonly, the pictures posted are sexualized and highly suggestive. That alone could cost her the opportunity to get a job as a teacher. The expectation for a teaching role is a person of high moral standards. Usually that means hiring committees frown upon sexually charged imagery on one’s social media.
Ask your daughter what her long-term goals are. Stop trying to get her to be a mini-you. Instead, help her to think through her choices and determine how her actions today will help or hinder her. Do not protest too much, though. The more you visibly hate her idea, the more determined she may become to pursue it.