DEAR ABBY: Our daughter, "Joan," and her husband, "Frank," have been married 19 years. Their only child will be 4 next month. A year and a half ago, Frank came out as a transgender female. Joan is handling this exceptionally well. Our son, "Alex," is not.
Our family will never have the traditional holidays again because Alex doesn't want his daughters, ages 13 and 10, around Frank. We are heartbroken, worried for our children and confused about how to handle this new family dynamic. Joan plans on remaining in her marriage. Frank is legally changing his name to "Anissa," taking hormones and excited to live her "real life."
In the meantime, we feel like outsiders looking in. These individuals, all in their 40s, are able to do what they want with their lives -- yet they're our children. We have enjoyed so many years of what we thought was a normal life. The thought of never having our family all together in our home again is upsetting. I suppose this scenario happens often, but how do you suggest we cope? -- OUT OF SORTS IN WASHINGTON
DEAR OUT OF SORTS: Cope by taking it day by day and making adjustments as necessary. You are not on the outside looking in. You are full-fledged participants in this scenario.
Your new daughter-in-law is the same person she has always been. She's not a danger to anyone's daughters. If your son can't accept that, there is nothing you can do about it. Let him know he is always welcome -- as is Anissa -- at family celebrations. If he can't bring himself to attend, see him and the girls separately.
If I have learned one thing in my lifetime, it is to take each day as it comes and make the most of it. Do not look back, pining for days gone by, and do not obsess about things you can't control. Think positive and you will get through this.
DEAR ABBY: Our neighbor has been hospitalized for six months because of a serious accident that left him paralyzed. His wife has been staying in the city near the hospital so she can be with him. My husband and I have been keeping an eye on their house and, at their request, moving their truck in the driveway so it appears someone is home.
The husband returned home a few weeks ago. We received a thank-you card from his wife. Inside was $50 in gift cards. We appreciate the thought behind the gift, but would like to return the gift cards. We helped them out with no expectation of anything in return. How do we go about returning them without offending our neighbors? -- GOOD DEED NEIGHBORS
DEAR NEIGHBORS: I don't think you should return them. To not accept them in the spirit in which they were given would be doing the couple a disservice. Sometimes the burden of gratitude weighs heavy. This is your neighbors' way of showing you how much your efforts meant to them, so accept the gesture graciously.
Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $14 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)