:Dear Abby: I am a longtime reader but a first-time writer. My problem has been bothering me for some time now.
We have a grandson who is 4 and very much a “princess boy.” He likes girl toys and dresses and doesn’t like any of his boy toys. We’re at a loss about how to handle this.
He’s an adorable little boy and we love him to pieces. His parents don’t accept this behavior, and I’m afraid it will affect him now and in the future. How would you handle this? We don’t say anything to his parents because they are pretty much in denial.
:Dear Worried: If he were my grandchild, I’d talk with the parents. I, too, am concerned about how their attitude will affect the child in the future, because parents are supposed to love and accept children the way they are, and sexual orientation is inborn. Children who feel consistent disapproval grow up thinking they aren’t good enough and don’t measure up — which can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I would “handle this” by making sure my grandson knew I loved, accepted and valued him just the way he is. If that means allowing him to play with the toys of his choice in my home, that’s what I’d do. And if he showed more interest in art, music and dance and less interest in sports, trucks, etc., I’d support that, too.
I’m glad you asked this question. Your grandson may or may not grow up to be gay or transgender, which is what I think your letter is really about. Regardless of what his orientation is, it’s very important that he knows he is valued for who he is.
:Dear Abby: I know this boy that I really love. He’s nice, smart and funny, and I think about him all the time. He says he loves me back.
Is this true love, or just a mutual crush? I know I’m only 13, but I think I’m in love. Is it ridiculous to think I have found true love in seventh grade? How can I tell whether it’s love or not? And what would you consider the usual age to find your perfect other half?
:Confused in Love
:Dear Confused: No one can predict how old you will be when you meet someone who is your perfect other half. People’s interests and needs evolve as they grow older, and what seems perfect today can seem less so when viewed through the lens of life experience.
I would never label your feelings as “ridiculous,” but when you are in love, there is usually no doubt about it. Because you need to ask someone else if what you’re feeling is true love, then it probably isn’t.
:Dear Abby: I met a guy on an online dating site. It turns out I know him. He works at a store I shop in three times a week. He’s nice, funny and everything I’m looking for in a guy, except he’s 25 and I’m 17.
He knows how old I am, and for a while, he was fine with it. Now, he thinks I’m a cop and I’m going to bust him for trying to have sex with me ’cause I’m underage. He explained why he thinks that, and he made sense. But I’m NOT a cop. I gave him information trying to prove I’m not.
Abby, I really like him. How do I prove that I’m not a cop? How do I show him he can trust me?
:Needs Advice in Oregon
:Dear Needs Advice: Undercover cops are older than 17. Because you say this man was “fine” with seeing you, but now is pulling away, it is possible that he is trying to let you down without hurting your feelings. You are not yet out of high school, and this man is far ahead of you in life experience. Rather than try to talk him into having a sexual relationship with you, you would be much better off finding someone your own age.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.