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Annie's Mailbox

Ask Amy column

Q. I have a 6-year-old son. His father has always acted effeminate but miraculously was never told this until I told him when we married. As a child, my husband was always picked last for sports, was not considered a “jock,” and felt like an outcast.

My son is turning out to be almost a carbon copy of his father and is effeminate as well. Many people have noted it in both the father and son. I want to spare him the pain of not knowing why he is picked on by other children and having difficulty dating girls. My son isn’t gay, but even if he was I would accept him. That would be a blessing if he was, because then he would fit in better. As it is now, he won’t fit into either world.

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Do I just let him go through life thinking he is unacceptable to most of society, but not knowing why? Do I tell him when he becomes a teenager?

A. How about you let your son go through life believing that he is perfectly perfect the way he is.

There is no question that some children face more social challenges than others, but no one fits in everywhere, and your son is so fortunate — because he is just like his dad! This should be seen as a good thing.

I sense from your anxiety over this that you have a problem with your son’s (and by extension your husband’s) affect. You really need to tackle your own feelings and anxiety, and make a choice to wrestle them to the ground so you can be your son’s best advocate.

If he doesn’t enjoy sports, find activities like music, theater, art, and academic clubs that he can enjoy with other boys and girls who will appreciate and include him.

As he gets older, be very open to discussing his sexuality and social challenges, and focus on his special strengths — and the strengths of your household — to be who he is.

Your husband holds the key to accepting, understanding, and celebrating this boy. He can offer his perspective and answer questions. He needs to step up.

Q. We have a neighbor who has done our yard work for several years who will be going to college this fall. We think a great deal of him and will be giving him a check for graduation.

Our dilemma is that he has a twin sister we have met but don’t know well. Should our gift to her be the same amount?

A. I think you should give each twin a modest graduation gift — and then also give the boy a “bonus” in thanks for the work he has done for you over the years.

Q. I love your column, but you missed the mark in responding to “Sane Relatives.”

Sane claimed to have religious relatives who said, “You’ve got to pray before we’ll give you any food.” It wasn’t that the hosts were going to pray; they said, “You’ve got to pray.”

You dumped on Sane Relatives for not wanting to pray, and that’s not fair.

A. Many readers detested my response to this letter. I was responding to what I felt was loaded, intolerant, and disrespectful language regarding religion in “Sane” ’s letter. Sane called these relatives’ religious practices “inane” and referred to their prayer practice as talking to themselves. The letter was signed “Sane” (implying that the relatives were not).

I assumed that, because of this overblown language, the writer was also inflating his hosts’ stance that they would refuse food until people prayed.

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

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