Tuesday 21 October 2014

Dear Mary: After my fears about my son, I now worry my grandson is gay

Mary O'Conor

Published 24/06/2013 | 05:00

Old woman having problems with her relationship
Old woman having problems with her relationship

I'm a grandmother who is really worried about her grandson. I have two children, a daughter and a son. Their father died when they were young and I was left to rear them on my own, which was no easy task. But I think I did pretty well and they are adults now, both well employed, both happily married and I have some wonderful grandchildren.

This is where it gets delicate. I always worried that my son was gay. In his teens, he was rather girlish and not macho at all. He didn't want to play sports, liked playing a classical music instrument and discovered a love of ballet, which worried me a lot. He went to university and did really well, but met a lot of artsy people who were very nice, though not what I was used to.

Then, suddenly, when he was in his early 20s, he met this girl who just swept him off his feet. She was in the arts and they became inseparable and very soon they decided to get married.

I was naturally thrilled because she is a really wonderful girl and has become a great friend – and I was very relieved, too.

They have three wonderful children, two girls and, as an afterthought, a son who is now 19.

My problem is that my grandson resembles his father at that age so much that I now worry if he is gay too.

I have a brother who lives in New York who never married and, as far as I know, has never been in a relationship. I have often gone over to visit him but have never been invited to his apartment. He says it is too cramped and books me into a hotel instead. We get on really well and he has been over to visit us often. He has developed a really strong relationship with my grandson and has now invited him to go and stay with him in his apartment in New York for the summer. My grandson is thrilled – but I am up the walls. Is my brother also gay and will he lead him astray in New York?

I don't know whether to speak to my son, my daughter-in-law or my brother about this. My grandson is in his late teens and could easily be led astray.

What am I to do?

Mary replies:

Well done on raising your children as a single parent. It must have been very difficult for you at times.

It is interesting that in writing about your grandson you use the phrase 'that he is gay, too' as despite the fact that your son is happily married to a wonderful woman, you are assuming that he is gay.

The only evidence you can give me is that he liked music and ballet and hung about with an artsy crowd. However, a mother's instincts should not be ignored, and there may be other factors that you haven't told me about. In any event, he made his choices and got married. It is only natural that children will have the same interests and show many of the traits of their parents. Sporting families have sporty children, artistic parents very often have artistic children, and children of academic parents frequently take the academic route.

So I would expect your grandson to remind you of your son – but that doesn't make him gay.

Anybody who has ever visited people living in New York will know that space is at a premium and people do indeed live in very cramped apartments. Your brother probably knows that whereas this wouldn't suit you, his grand-nephew won't mind at all. There is a really big leap between him living on his own and never having been in a relationship to thinking that he is gay.

And even if he is, there is absolutely no reason to believe that he would be a bad influence on your grandson.

However, if you have any worries at all you need to speak to both his parents and voice your concerns.

It would be very unwise of you to give voice to your thoughts about your own son – you will change your relationship with the two of them irrevocably if you do, and it would also bring lots of uncertainty into their marriage.

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