Dear Amy: My stepdaughter is 21. She came out as gay about a year ago.
We have been very supportive of her. We are very fond of her girlfriend.
For Christmas, the two of them bought my wife and me a pride flag to display on our front porch.
I have to be honest that while supportive I do not have any desire to fly the pride flag on my house.
My stepdaughter and her girlfriend do not live with us and I don’t think they even have a flag at their own home.
Is there anything I can say or do to not sound like a terrible person that I don’t want to fly this flag at my home?
My wife may also feel offended if I say something against this.
I’m really struggling with this.
Dear Ally: This presents an opportunity for you and your wife to learn the intent and symbolism behind this gift.
Did these two women present you with this flag to acknowledge your allyship? Have they given this to you in hopes that you will somehow complete your ally-journey by quite literally flying the flag?
I asked my friend Zack Ford to weigh in (Zack most recently covered LGBTQ issues for ThinkProgress). He responds: “First, the parents need to talk to each other: What is their hesitation to put out the flag? Are they concerned about how neighbors will react? Do they not want to have to explain or defend it to others?
“Then of course talk to their daughter. Does she feel like she needs more support from them, and if so, what does that need to look like?”
Zack and I agree that once you communicate about this and know more about the intent, you could make a decision.
We also agree that if you ultimately don’t want to display it, you shouldn’t.
One possible compromise is that you might fly this flag for a period during June, which is LGBTQ Pride month.
Dear Amy: My wife’s daughter just died two days before this past Christmas due to liver and kidney failure, following a hospital stay of 20 days, mostly in the ICU and under intubation.
She was only 46 years old, and in fair health until she recently developed back pain and then difficulty walking.
At any rate, she had a husband and two 10-year-old twin children.
When would it be appropriate for them to start grief counseling, since it seems the twins need to gain perspective regarding the sudden loss of their mother.
They did not get to see their mother while she was hospitalized.
Dear Concerned: Your entire family must be reeling.
To a certain extent, you will need to let the reeling happen, and not try to fix it. I hope you will be able to stay calm, centered and compassionate toward all three generations.
It would be appropriate for all grieving family members to attend grief counseling, as soon as possible, and to continue with counseling for as long as they want.
The hospital that treated your daughter-in-law should have recommendations for local in-person or virtual grief groups.
For the children, you might want to introduce them to the book, “The Invisible String, written by Patrice Karst and illustrated by Joanne Lew-Kriethoff (current edition, 2018, Little Brown). This classic picture book might seem a little “young” for your 10-year-old grandchildren, but its message about the love that binds us should resonate with all of you.
I hope that you and your wife can offer these children a port in the storm. Spend a lot of time with them. Establish rituals and routines that they can snuggle into. Encourage them to talk about their mom whenever they want to and in any context.
And you and your wife should freely share happy memories of her, show them childhood photos if they’re interested, and be as centered and stalwart as you are able.
Dear Amy: Regarding the question from “Canine Questions” regarding her boyfriend, who lets his dog roam free, I work with animal control officers who have to go out and talk to people like this gentleman who refuses to contain his dog per the regulations of the city or county he lives in.
Every single city or county in this country has a rule where all dogs must be leashed or contained in areas when outside, up to date on rabies, and licensed.
Concerned for Canines
Dear Concerned: This also presents considerable risk to the dog, other animals, and humans.
You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.