My son is being bullied, and I don’t know what to do

By | June 18, 2021

A: I think my heart just broke for both of you! I’ve been your son, and I’ve also been you, at different times in my life. I get the allure of pretending the bullying never happened. Please don’t do that. Speaking up can be awkward, but silence may reinforce your son’s embarrassment and shame when he has nothing to be ashamed of!

The most important thing you can do as a parent is open the door for a conversation with your son when he’s ready. Just open it, though. Don’t walk through the door, don’t shout through the door — just let your son know you’re there, with love and support for him, when he’s ready to talk.

Start with something simple, like: “Did you hear what that kid said when we walked in? That was really mean.” Then stop. Your son will let you know, in words or body language, if he wants to discuss it. Don’t push. It may take awhile for him to open up. In the meantime, tell him you love him, and be alert for more bullying.

Depending on local conditions, confiding in a sympathetic teacher or counsellor may help. You can also consult a therapist or, if you think it appropriate, an LGBTQ support group in your area. However you proceed, though, make sure your son knows he has an ally in you who supports him exactly as he is. Good luck, Mom! I’m rooting for both of you.

Seating by Vaccine Status?

Q: We were invited to a wedding of the daughter of friends of 30 years. A week beforehand, the father of the bride called my husband and asked if we minded sitting at a table with an unvaccinated couple. (He said they were “anti-vaxxers.”) We said yes. We’re older and have health conditions. The father assured us the couple would not be attending. Then came the second call: “My daughter really wants this couple to be there.” My husband said we wouldn’t go, and the father thanked us. We’re flabbergasted! We want nothing more to do with these people. Thoughts, please? — L

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A: Well, the bride’s father really bobbled the ball. And I understand your distress. My guess: He really thought he could fix the problem when he told your husband he could, and he may have been surprised when his daughter insisted on including the unvaccinated couple. (It’s her wedding.)

Now, we don’t know several facts: Was this an indoor event with masks? If pressed, would the hosts have found another table for you? And did they notify other guests (whose risk factors may be unknown to them) that an unvaccinated couple would be attending?

I commend the bride’s father for trying, even though he failed. He shared important information. And who knows what battle ensued among the bride’s family over this. I’d hate to see you write off a friendship of 30 years over your friends’ stubborn daughter. This is new ground for all of us.

First Date

Q: On a dating app, I met a guy who seemed great. After we were both fully vaccinated, he asked me out. And I agreed. The problem: He wants to go to a movie, and I’m not comfortable with indoor theatres yet. (If it helps, I’m in my 30s and don’t have any underlying conditions.) What do you think? — ML

A: For starters, let me quibble with the choice of a movie for a first date: How are you going to get to know each other better sitting quietly in the dark for two hours? More important, though, is that you go at your own speed.

We’ve all been through a lot during the pandemic, and if it takes you a little longer to get comfortable sitting indoors — even if it’s safe for you — wait. Is this great guy open to compromise?

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But You Told Me to Hurry!

Q: At the end of a long weekend, we drove our houseguests to the train station. They were running late and asked us to hurry. They didn’t want to miss their train. Cut to: We were stopped by the police for speeding. Who should pay the ticket? — Jim

A: Sorry, Jim! The person behind the wheel is responsible for driving infractions. Your guests may have egged you on, but they didn’t press the accelerator. Let me add, though: Thoughtful guests would have offered to pay the ticket — or at least split it with you — under these circumstances.

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