DEAR HARRIETTE: I suspect that my teenage son is gay, but he won’t talk to me about his life at all. I want to be supportive, and I have a male friend who is gay. Do you think it is appropriate for me to talk to my friend about this? I want to ask him if he would try to talk to my son to get a sense of where his head is and whether he needs someone to talk to who understands what’s happening in his life. -- Sounding Board
DEAR SOUNDING BOARD: Figuring out who you are is a lifelong activity, and for teens, it can seem overwhelming.
It is daunting to be a parent who has a suspicion but cannot get their child to talk. This is where the “village” comes in. Your friend may be able to serve in that role. But here’s an important question: Does your son know your friend already? It may be difficult to get your son to open up to someone who is a stranger. Still, it’s worth a try. Perhaps you can create a casual introduction where you invite this friend to come over, and you can see if they strike up a conversation. What probably won’t work is for this guy to start talking about being gay without a natural entree.
Apart from that, pay attention to your son. Tell him you want to support him as he goes through these teenage years. Ask him if he is interested in anybody at school, or if he wants to date at all. Don’t pry. Just ask a few questions.
By the way, this is what you should do regardless of your child’s sexual orientation. Do your best to stay close to your son so that as his life unfolds, he will want to talk to you about it.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I was at a holiday party at a friend’s house, and we were all having a great time when my client called my cell. It was late at night, but it was also the night before a big project we were working on.
Anyhow, my phone was sitting on the kitchen table when it rang, and a guy who was there -- who was decidedly drunk -- picked up my phone, answered it and started yelling and cursing. I don’t even know what all he said. I tried to get my phone from him once I realized he had it, but he held it above his head. It was a surreal experience, like we had all reverted back to elementary school. My client was shocked. She texted, asking who had answered my phone. I immediately texted back that it was a guest at this party and not someone I knew. I apologized, but I have been getting the cold shoulder ever since. How can I fix this? -- Mending a Fence
DEAR MENDING A FENCE: Reach out to your client once more, and let her know that you realize how unfortunate the incident was when the man you don’t know held your phone hostage. Remind her that you were not in control of your phone. From there, you should pivot to the work at hand. If you are working on a project for her, focus on that. Make sure you do a great job so that you remind her of who you are and your value to her company.
In the future, don’t leave your phone out so that you can stop such a childish thing from happening. Having it in your possession at all times also prevents potential theft.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)