Annie's Mailbox: Concerned about son’s friend

Dear Annie: My son’s friend “Josh” confided to their group that he is gay. Josh’s parents are pretty strict and often comment that they have to keep an eye on him because he is a teenager and “interested in girls.”

Since Josh came out to his friends, he doesn’t socialize with them as much and spends a lot of time on his computer. I am concerned that he is meeting the wrong kinds of people through the Internet. It doesn’t matter to me whether he is gay or not. If he is socializing on the computer, it could be dangerous.

Do I have an obligation to say anything to his parents about his sexual orientation? I know he eventually will tell them when he is ready, but I am worried about what he is going through now.

— A Concerned Mom

Dear Concerned: Please don’t tell Josh’s parents that he is gay. That is up to him. You can, however, talk to his parents about the risks of meeting people on the Internet, which are the same for every child. We’re sure you can find a way to bring up your concerns without betraying any confidences. You also can discuss this directly with Josh if you have the opportunity. And while you’re at it, it wouldn’t hurt to have this conversation with your own son.

Dear Annie: I have been engaged for almost two years. The wedding will happen when my fiance and I have full-time employment.

The problem is my future mother-in-law. I can’t stand her. She talks about me behind my back and is critical of things she knows nothing about. I don’t want this woman at my wedding. I want to enjoy myself and not have her ruin the day. However, my fiance says his mother needs to be there. I think she will make the day miserable by drawing attention to herself and causing trouble. Any suggestions?

— Aggravated in the USA

Dear Aggravated: Welcome to the world of marriage. This is your husband’s mother. She’s a pain in the behind, but he wants her at the wedding. So put on your best happy face and treat her as part of your family, because that’s what she is going to be. If you shut her out, she will never forgive you, and neither will your groom.

Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Disgusted,” whose co-worker was a victim of domestic abuse. Your advice was good, but there is more she could do:

Advise the victim to talk to the supervisor, employee assistance manager, human resources manager, owner, etc., and complete a safety plan that includes a recent photograph of the perpetrator. Encourage her to save any threatening e-mails or voicemail messages. Co-workers can discreetly keep a log of any injuries observed and dates when the victim is absent. Have her name an emergency contact person and designate a code word or phrase to alert them to danger. If possible, move her workstation away from public access, elevators and stairs, and maybe even place barriers between the entrance and her workstation.

Encourage her to obtain a restraining order that includes the workplace and keep a copy on hand at all times. Don’t give out any contact information to others. Perpetrators often have excellent skills in obtaining information from co-workers. Make sure employees know how to report any incident. Most importantly, ask the victim what changes could be made to make her feel safer. The Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence has more suggestions on its Web site at caepv.org.

— Former Domestic Violence Worker

Dear Former: Many thanks for your expert advice. We hope every workplace keeps this information on hand.

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