Dear Amy: Our adult daughter and her partner have been together since college. They live together in another city. We have talked about marriage over the years.
Several months ago, they video phoned us to let us know that the partner no longer identifies as a male, but as a non-binary gender. He adopted the pronouns them / their / their.
They should not be called “man” or her boyfriend. When / if she and they get married, they will not be her husband, but a neutral term.
My wife and I have concerns, but are ultimately tolerant of their choice.
However, she and I have been using the English language for over 100 years and are struggling to make this language transition.
Our daughter (not them) is correcting us nicely, and there seems to be an indefinite grace period for us to consistently get it right.
On a recent visit I was corrected, yet I made the same mistake within a minute. I don’t think I will ever be able to master this fluency in language.
I found myself (normally chatty and joking) shutting down and saying less for the sake of using the wrong pronoun again.
I try, but I feel overwhelmed by the constant awareness of a person’s gender identity and having to choose my words so carefully.
Wrestling with them
Dear in difficulty: You both love your daughter, and she loves you all. Always start with that.
You will adapt.
One way to do this is to use the name of the person’s choice, rather than referring to them by a pronoun, certainly if they are present, ie, “Chas, what’s your opinion there- above ? “
You have known this person for a long time. That person is still there, carrying the same memories and shared experiences from before this transition. So, make an effort to see them for who they are, and as more than just a source of awkwardness or confusion for you.
Keep your sense of humor, don’t get defensive, let them know that you are a work in progress and that you hope they continue to be patient as you adjust.
Dear Amy: I have never had a dog as a pet (but I have had cats and horses).
I am uncomfortable about some things about my boyfriend’s German Shepherd.
Some examples: We pulled up at a rest area on the freeway and he let his dog get out of the vehicle to run free while he used the restroom, although there is a leash law on the leash. rest area and a designated area for dogs.
When we were camping, he let his dog run unattended, and he urinated on the mat our friends had placed in front of their motorhome.
His dog greets me by jumping on me. I feel like this behavior is too brutal, especially when sometimes the dog’s nails scratch me and break my skin.
When I try to walk, the dog stays right in front of me, touching me. My boyfriend says the dog will move with me while I move, but I feel imbalanced and afraid of tripping.
I shared my concerns with my boyfriend, but he doesn’t see a problem. He says dogs will be dogs and he prefers dogs to humans.
I eagerly await your advice.
Dear questions: You say you have some experience with animals, and yet I maintain that any human with a bit of human sense (regardless of animal experience) would realize that a dog on the loose can be hit by a car, may attack another human or animal, may be taken away, injured, or may simply choose to leave with a better suited and more responsible family.
Each scenario you present illustrates a complete disrespect for you – your comfort and safety – as well as the dog, who is obviously unruly and in danger.
You have been given an extremely clear lens through which to see this man.
If you ignore what you see, your life will literally end with the dogs.
My immediate advice is that you should let man and dog roam the rest area of life.
Dear Amy: “Dazed and Confused” was extremely upset by the sudden reappearance of a former ex.
I totally identified with her. I made an ex reappear, play with my emotions, then leave abruptly, like he had done years ago.
Such a waste.
Dear burnt: I guess at this point you’re relieved that he took a powder.
You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.