How to explain that Charlie is now Claire

Posted: May 23, 2013

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I recently learned that our sister-in-law's adult son from a prior marriage, "Charlie," is now "Claire."

This sister-in-law expressed concern that our 10-year-old would remember Charlie and say something inappropriate. She's demanding that we lie to him and tell him Claire is another daughter we have never met.We feel it is best to explain to all three of our sons that Charlie has decided to make a lifestyle change and let them ask questions if they choose. What is your opinion?

- Truth-Telling Parents

DEAR PARENTS: I don't believe in lying to children, but before you tell your sons that Charlie decided to make a "lifestyle change," I urge you to do some research about gender identity. It is not as simple on any level as changing an aspect of one's lifestyle. It is about who Claire truly feels she is inside.

Your oldest boy should know that some people feel from an early age that they were born into the wrong body - the wrong gender. He should be told that the problem has been solved and Charlie is now Claire. When the younger children are older, they can be told the same thing in an age-appropriate manner if the subject comes up.

DEAR ABBY: My mother-in-law picks her nose in front of others by covering her finger with a tissue and then digging deep into her nose. She claims this is acceptable behavior even though the rest of us are grossed out. She refuses to stop unless somebody like you tells her otherwise.

Please help with this. I have a 7-year-old daughter who sees her, and I don't want her to think this is proper behavior in public.

- Grossed Out

DEAR GROSSED OUT: It's one thing to use a tissue for a gentle nose-blow, and quite another to use it as camouflage for a major excavation. That your MIL is grossing out those around her should be evidence enough that what she's doing is bad manners. It is showing lack of consideration for those around her.

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