DEAR ABBY: I'm writing regarding "Open-Minded in the South" (Nov. 24), the Christian woman who's a supporter of the LGBTQ community. She's concerned about her boyfriend's mother's inability to see her viewpoint and the effect it would have on future kids. I experienced something nearly identical. My boyfriend's grandfather is an ordained pastor, and they raised their kids in a conservative home. After a few conversations with them about LGBTQ people and other issues, we received a six-page letter detailing the "sins" we were committing.
Fast-forward 20 years: I get along with my in-laws fabulously. In fact, the grandfather has said I'm his favorite! We don't agree on pretty much anything politically, but I do still voice my opinion if the family says something I don't agree with.
My husband and I have two kids who often hear the in-laws say some judgmental things, and it's a great segue to a conversation with my kids afterward. They understand that not everyone is going to have the same beliefs, and even though we don't agree with the in-laws on these issues, we love them dearly. It definitely isn't a reason to end a good relationship.
As to "Open-Minded's" boyfriend not being up for the argument with his mom, he could be like my husband who HAS had conversations with them to no avail and realizes it's futile. -- BEEN THERE AND STILL THERE
DEAR BEEN THERE: My readers used "Open-Minded's" letter as an opportunity to have a forum about respect, love and civility. I found their comments both valid and refreshing. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: It is interesting that open-minded people are often open-minded only if you agree with them and are otherwise completely dogmatic. Neither party will ever convince the other that they are wrong. The solution: Don't talk about the problem issue.
We have a relative who holds office in a political party opposite to ours. We have a tacit agreement to simply never talk politics, and we get along great. Life is short, and there's nothing more important than family and friends. Agree to disagree! -- CALM IN KENTUCKY
DEAR ABBY: When people have an opposing point of view, it doesn't mean they hate you or are ignorant. Our culture is increasingly unable to engage in reasoned dialogue. Instead, people resort to shouting down reasonable thought and civil debate. My wife and I disagree over substantive issues, but we cope. Our society needs to work toward a renewal of civility. -- NO HATE IN TEXAS
DEAR ABBY: Both women are entitled to their beliefs and opinions. It's commendable that they discussed their differences. Now the question is, "How do I respond to someone important in my life with whom I disagree?" The answer is RESPECT. Rather than demean each other, the women should choose to find some solid ground on which to build a relationship.
To advise "Open-Minded" to consider leaving her boyfriend because of his mother's beliefs shocked me. In my family there is an array of different views. We all know where we stand and steer clear of the bombshells. We have chosen to love each other, accept each other as is and be as close as we can despite our differences. It takes some work, but it's worth it. We have even been able to joke with one another in a good-natured way. That is love and respect at its best, and more of what our world could use today. -- HAPPY IN KANSAS
DEAR READERS: I confess I wholeheartedly agree.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)