Ask Amy: Adolescent’s gender identification causes confusion

Dear Amy: My 12-year-old granddaughter, “Casey,” often stays with me during weekends. Casey has a friend from school who she has visited several times. She has had a sleepover at that friend’s house — with her mom’s permission.

I met the friend’s mother briefly; I’ve only seen the friend from a distance.

My granddaughter led me to understand that her friend is a girl.

It seems now that although this friend was born female, she wants to transition to male, but is also gay, in that the friend wants to be a boy who is attracted to other boys. I am not comfortable with her having a sleepover with a boy.

Beyond that, I believe that 12 is too young to make decisions about sexuality.

My granddaughter is a handful — and that’s putting it mildly.

She lies routinely and is completely untrustworthy, so any information coming from her has to be taken with a grain of salt.

I don’t want to offend her friend or the friend’s parents, or have them think we would stop my granddaughter from going there simply because their child has a complicated sexual identity.

Today, for instance, I said that she could visit Casey at Casey’s house. She started blowing up my phone — and her mother’s phone — demanding to spend the night.

I’m at a loss about how to handle this.

— Exhausted Grandma

Dear Exhausted: Let’s set aside your granddaughter “Casey’s” friend’s gender exploration for now. If this information is coming from or being filtered through Casey, then I’d say you have a 12-year-old’s explanation of another 12-year-old’s gender journey.

The issue you should focus on is the question of where Casey will be spending the night when she is with you, and who will be in charge of her while she is with you: You, her mother, or Casey, herself.

When Casey is with you, at least at the outset, the wisest course would be for you to welcome her friend to spend time at your house, or for you to take them on an outing together.

This would enable you to make an acquaintance with the friend, get to know their parents, and — speaking with Casey’s mom — to make an adult decision about a sleepover.

Casey’s privileges should also be tied to her own behavior: That’s basic parenting, and even though adolescent girls can tax their folks’ patience, you should do your best to stay open, patient, wise, loving, and nonjudgmental.

And always … trust but verify.

Dear Amy: My husband and I have been married for 18 years.

He had a (female) co-worker who left the area and moved to another state — around five years ago.

I was not aware of this, but I recently learned that he calls her quite often to talk about his problems.

I’m concerned that he shares his problems with her and not with me. She is also married.

He and this woman were even sending gifts back and forth without my knowledge.

I found this out when I noted her mailing address listed in my Amazon account.

I was wondering if this was normal behavior, or if I should be worried.

He seems to think there’s nothing wrong with it, but I’m furious.

Could you weigh in?

— Worried Wife

Dear Worried: My opinion about this depends somewhat on what kinds of problems your husband shares with his former co-worker, and what kind of gifts they are exchanging.

If he calls her to discuss the Peterson account or to exchange ideas about how to navigate through a thorny company problem, that’s one thing.

If he is sharing intimate and private details about his — or your — life, that’s another.

If he is sending her bottles of Shalimar or a gift pack from Victoria’s Secret, I’d say that was a clear “tell.” (You can double-check the order history through your (or his) Amazon account.)

Partners absolutely can have friendships outside of the marriage — but it is important that these friendships not interfere with the marriage.

I hope you and your husband can really talk about this. He should be transparent and reassuring, rather than dismissive or defensive.

Dear Amy: I was absolutely shocked by your response to “Protective fiancée,” whose guy was sexually harassed by a woman at a bar.

You are normally so anti-male — I was surprised when you called out the double-standard when women sexually harass men.

— Call me Surprised

Dear Surprised: Gee, thanks!

(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.)

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