DEAR ABBY: My granddaughter just informed me that she decided she would be happier living as a boy, and she went so far as to legally change her name. I want to show solidarity, but I admit that I have a lot of trouble accepting it, or at least figuring out how to face it.
She’s my only granddaughter and probably the only one I will ever have. I loved my granddaughter with all my heart and I don’t know how to level up a grandson. I keep tripping when trying to use the new name. I would be happy to receive any of your suggestions, including information on any support groups you may be aware of. – GRANDMOTHER IN PAIN
Dear Grandma: Gender reassignment is not something someone does on a lark. There are many stages involved, and the journey, while liberating, can be difficult both physically and emotionally. I’m sure this is something your grandson thought about a lot.
Yes, accepting this can be as much of a trip for the family as it is for the transgender person, and it can take time and understanding from all sides. A group called PFLAG can help. It has been mentioned in my column for decades. He has helped countless families build bridges of understanding between themselves and their lesbian, gay and transgender loved ones. Don’t wait to contact them. You will find PFLAG on pflag.org, and their phone number is (202) 467-8180.
DEAR ABBY: I am a 50 year old male. All my life my relationship with my father has been strained. When I was a teenager and in my twenties, when he was buying gifts for my two siblings and not for me, he would say things to me like, “I forgot I had you. Despite this, I have had great success in life. I have had a great career and am now retired. My father recently told me that he made only two mistakes in his life: marrying my mother, who has supported him for over 60 years, and having children.
My dilemma is that he is now 90 years old with a lot of health issues. He is currently hospitalized with a heart problem. I know it won’t hold up much longer. I don’t feel anything for him, and I’m not sad. When he dies, I know I don’t care. Is this normal? I feel guilty for feeling like this. – DON’T CARE IN THE TENNESSEE
DEAR DON’T CARE: Please don’t feel guilty that you have no regrets about “losing” a cruel and reserved parent who made a point of ensuring that those who did ‘surround them feel “less than”. Don’t be surprised if, rather than feeling a sense of loss, you feel at peace, as if a weight has been lifted from your shoulders. You shouldn’t feel guilty about it either. Comfort and support your mother emotionally as best you can when she dies, but don’t be shocked if she, too, feels some relief. Their union could not have been the happiest.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or PO Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.