Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Dad Feels Helpless To Mend Teenager's Crisis of Identity

DEAR ABBY: My 14-year-old daughter recently came out of the closet, and it has made my husband and me quite upset. She says she is "bicurious, pansexual and polyamorous." She now insists everyone call her by a gender-neutral name, gave herself a side shave and dyed her hair pink after we repeatedly told her not to. She wants us to refer to her as "they" and not "she."

Boys used to like her, and she used to have friends, but she threw it all away to be "unique." You may think we should let her be true to herself, but in the process, she is disrespecting us and ruining her image. She thinks she's all grown up and can do whatever she wants, and I just can't get through to her.

She is also letting herself go. She used to be in good shape, but she quit track and field because it was a "gender-conforming" sport. She is now getting chubby, looks horrible and is depressed. Help! -- DAD WITHOUT ANSWERS

DEAR DAD: Your daughter may, indeed, be depressed. She's at an age where she is trying to figure out who she is, and because she has lost her friends and her parents are mad at her, I can understand why.

It is very important that you not panic. Her hair will grow back; her gender identity and sexual orientation will be confirmed with time. The most important suggestion I can offer would be to love your daughter, stop criticizing her and make an appointment for you and your husband to talk with a psychologist with expertise in adolescents. Above all, she needs the support of her parents right now.

Read more in: Teens | Sex & Gender | Family & Parenting | Mental Health | Health & Safety