DEAR ABBY: I am an out-and-proud lesbian who recently celebrated 10 years as a couple and three years of marriage to my wife. I worked as a professional nanny for many years, and I'm still extremely close to the first family I worked for. Although we have known each other for years, they still ask me not to mention my marriage when I'm around their kids. They refer to my wife as my "roommate." It's all I can do to bite my tongue. I have ignored this for too long.
I recently invited them over to see my new home. Because of their conservative views, I warned them in advance about the wedding photos I have displayed. I'm not ashamed of my life. I am extremely proud of myself and my wife. I am hurt and offended by their requests. I feel they only accept certain parts of me.
I realize it's unhealthy to continue this way, but I'm terrified of losing them. I'm usually a straightforward person. I feel open communication is important with everyone else in my life. But I have lost relationships before because, no matter how respectful I tried to be, honesty can sometimes be hard to hear. How can I be honest without angering this couple, and what's the best way to start this conversation? — OUTSPOKEN NANNY
DEAR NANNY: If your former employers think they can censor their children's world to omit the fact that perfectly nice people, including one they love, are gay, they're dreaming. Kids today are very worldly. When the parents started calling your wife your roommate, you should have corrected them then and TOLD them it was offensive and hurtful.
Invite them to your home and leave your wedding photos displayed. Why you are terrified that your relationship with them will end because you're living your authentic life mystifies me. If they can't handle the truth, you and your wife are better off without them.
DEAR ABBY: My husband's brother has two kids, both of whom are now adults. The older one is in their second year of college; the younger one will graduate from high school this spring. We haven't missed a single birthday for either one. The only time we see them is when there's a birthday or it's Christmas (with a few exceptions, like the occasional funeral).
I think it's time to stop the annual birthday gifts. We're not particularly close, and I'm tired of the forced merriment when it's clear they are only after the gift. How do I tell the parents and the grandparents there will be no more gifts for birthdays without sounding like a stingy old aunt? — GIFTED OUT IN MICHIGAN
DEAR GIFTED OUT: Unless you want to make a change immediately, hang in there until the younger child reaches 21. At that point, put the parents/grandparents on notice that because "the kids" are now adults, you will be sending cards rather than gifts.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable — and most frequently requested — poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby — Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.