DEAR AMY: I have a very good friend who recently came out of the closet to his parents.
One of his biggest obstacles in making this decision was that he grew up in a conservative military home, and with that came certain expectations. He was a captain of his football team and great in sports in high school. He was (and still is) a jock. He is currently in the military.
When he finally came out, both of his parents were very upset. Since then, his father has slowly come around to the idea. His mother, however, has had a much rougher time.
Right now, she is in a state of total denial. She has essentially severed ties with him, and whenever he tries to bring the subject up to her, she becomes extremely emotional, and either instantly tries to change the subject or begins to verbally abuse him.
To this end, I've noticed that a lot of the inhibitions that he first exhibited before coming out to his parents (concerning his masculinity, in particular) are resurfacing. Do you have any advice to offer as to how he should approach his mother?
— A Worried Friend
DEAR WORRIED: Your friend's first duty is to himself. He must do his best to live an integrated, balanced and authentic life. This is a tall order when you are trying to hide something fundamental about yourself. Now that he has done the hard work of coming out to his parents, he should step back and give them time to adjust their perceptions. He must also accept their unfortunate limitations.
If his mother won't acknowledge his sexuality when confronted with it, then he should stop confronting her. Her refusal will not change his reality; it will only affect their relationship.
In short, I'm suggesting that he tolerate the fact that she is in denial. He can express to her: "Mom, I know this is hard for you, but I hope and trust that you will accept me as I am. I'm still your son and always will be. Nothing will change that."
DEAR AMY: My daughter will soon become engaged to a wonderful young man. They plan a spring wedding next year. She has a dear friend who is a photographer.
I believe this friend will offer to take the wedding pictures as her gift. My problem with this is that she is a terrible photographer. Apparently, some people appreciate the dark, shadowy images she creates, but that is not the way I would prefer to remember my only child's special moment. How can we gracefully decline if the offer is made?
DEAR PERPLEXED: Accepting or declining this generous gift should be up to your daughter and her fiance. It is their wedding, and they may like this photographer's work.
If the couple wants to hire a different photographer, it would also be possible to accept this artist's generous gift by saying, "We've hired a photographer, but we would treasure any candid images you could catch for us." Not having to work full time at this event would enable the photographer to enjoy being a guest — I assume she will be invited to the wedding, regardless of your low opinion of her creative gifts.
DEAR AMY: I am responding to the letter from the very unfortunate "Quilter in a Quagmire," who had presented her son and daughter-in-law with a baby quilt, only to have it rejected.
My mother-in-law was a quilter. Everyone in the family has at least one quilt she made, and we cherish them. Making a quilt takes many, many hours.
It amazes me that someone would not want the gift of a quilt.
I once gave my mother-in-law a plaque that read, "Blessed are the children of the piece makers, for they shall inherit the quilts." I wish this new grandmother many wonderful hours with her grandchild. I hope he or she will fall in love with the quilt!
— Proud Quilt Owner
DEAR PROUD: I have heard from hundreds of readers singing the praises of quilts. I have my own modest collection, some of which are almost 200 years old, and I agree that they are treasures.
Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Amy Dickinson's memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.