Annie's Mailbox: Friendship strained by judgemental dad

Dear Annie: I met “Tom” a few months ago at church. We are both retired and have a lot in common.

He is close to my age and attends services with his 84-year-old father, who has limited mobility. Tom is his caregiver.

It turns out Tom is gay, so romance is out of the question, but I’d still like a friendship, and he feels the same.

I love his father like a second dad.

However, since Second Dad found out I went to a club to listen to my favorite rock band, he told Tom not to have anything more to do with me.

Annie, I behaved myself at the club. I stayed until 2 a.m. with two other women, drank only ice water and left by myself.

The father has said he is so disappointed that I hang around with “undesirable” people in such places that he won’t sit with me in church.

Tom says his father used to drink a lot but then “got religion” and is very judgmental of others. Tom also says his dad loves to create drama.

I am no longer welcome in their home, although Tom still wants to be friends, which will cause a lot of problems with his father.

I am so devastated by this, I was crying in church last Sunday. I hate losing Tom as a friend when I don’t believe I did anything wrong. What do you advise?

— Don’t Deserve a Scarlet Letter

Dear Scarlet: You haven’t lost Tom as a friend. He does not need his father’s approval to continue seeing you outside of the house.

While it’s too bad Dad is so judgmental and overbearing, that is Tom’s problem and you should allow him to deal with it as he sees fit.

We hope, in time, his father will come around.

Dear Annie: I have a wonderfully bright son who seems to be on a downward spiral.

“Emmett” graduated third in his class and earned two college scholarships.

Unfortunately, his father died unexpectedly a month into his second semester of college, and nothing has been the same since.

I have tried to be supportive, understanding and patient. I made an appointment with a grief counselor, but Emmett refused to go.

The only thing that interests him now is hanging with his friends. They are reasonably good kids, but Emmett has lost his focus and is exhibiting some risky behavior. I am afraid his next bad decision could be costly.

How can I make my adult, but still maturing, child seek the help he needs before it’s too late?

It would be terrible if his grief became self-destructive and he threw away all his potential. I can’t sit by and watch it happen.

What can I do?

— Worried Mom

Dear Mom: If Emmett is still enrolled in college, call the counseling department and alert them to his problem.

You also can enlist one of Emmett’s friends to talk to him and perhaps give him the number of that grief counselor — or find another through your local hospitals and doctors’ offices.

In the meantime, don’t nag him about it. Instead, tell him every day how much you love him and that if he needs you, you are always available.

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