I miss Pauline. While I still tend to read Dear Abby when I run across it in the pages of a newspaper, the advice seems to be missing the snap and ginger that the original “Abigail Van Buren” brought to the agony-aunt business. Daughter Jeanne may be an example of regression to the mean. She's like Siegfried Wagner to Pauline's Richard.
An item in one of last week's columns reminded me why I feel that way:
DEAR ABBY: My daughter recently told us she is attracted to women. I feel she has been unduly influenced by her mentor/professor at her college, as she quoted this woman several times when she “came out.”That's right, Jeanne. Ignore the elephant in the room. The advice to contact PFLAG is good, but you're completely silent about Oregon Mom's idiocy. I'm not suggesting that you should have called her an idiot, but remaining silent gives the appearance of taking her statement at face value.
My daughter has always been quiet and shy. She finds it difficult to make eye contact with anyone. How am I to accept this, especially since I feel her mentor took advantage of the situation? I am finding it difficult to function at all. I love my daughter very much. This just hurts. —MOM AT A LOSS IN OREGON
DEAR MOM AT A LOSS: I understand this has been a shock for you, and for that you have my sympathy. It is possible that your daughter has always been quiet and shy because she was wrestling with who she is, so the fact that she told you her feelings is a good thing.
Because you are hurting, it would be helpful for you to talk to other parents of lesbians and gays. They can help you through this period of adjustment. You can find support by contacting PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) by calling (202) 467-8180 or logging onto www.pflag.org. If you do, you'll be better able to support your child.
Which statement? This one, obviously: “I feel she has been unduly influenced by her mentor/professor at her college.” Oregon Mom is telling us that she thinks her daughter's professor turned her gay. And you're just going to leave that lying there on the page for readers to see and fret over? Sure, PFLAG will explain to her that she is full of crap, but the opportunity to address it in the column was missed.
Here's my suggestion for a replacement for the first paragraph of Jeanne's answer. It may be a bit more blunt than what Pauline might have said, but I like to think it's in her spirit:
If your daughter's mentor helped her to recognize her lesbianism, you owe her a debt of gratitude. Now your daughter has a chance to live a less confused life. If you think your daughter was seduced into “the gay lifestyle,” you need to get acquainted with reality.Then the recommendation to contact PFLAG is a smooth segue. Read the letters a little more closely, Jeanne. You're missing important stuff.