Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

So my worst nightmare just came true: My religious-convert sister (RCS) told my gay sister (GS) that RCS and her husband and children will not ever meet GS’s children (1-year-old twins). GS is still welcome to visit RCS and her family alone. RCS’s rationale seems to be that her children are getting old enough to ask hard questions and she doesn’t know what to tell them about their aunts and their IVF cousins.

I am devastated that our family apparently will never again be all together, not to mention incredibly angry and hurt. Our parents were never happy that GS is gay but managed to cope, and have include GS’s wife in the family for 10 years, so they are also upset at RCS’s announcement. I have not yet spoken to RCS, as this JUST happened.

(Nick Galifianakis /For The Washington Post)

What on Earth do I say and do? I can’t participate in any family gathering to which GS and her family are not invited, but I also can’t stand the thought of cutting all ties with RCS and her family, given that I strongly disagree with her choice of estrangement in the first place.


Instead of going at RCS with outrage guns blazing — or just going silent — try talking to her about the very narrowly defined issue of what she says to her young children.

I believe RCS is demonstrating breathtaking cowardice and I would be outraged, but sometimes with family it’s helpful to get away from clashing principles (gasoline on a fire, usually) and try a more practical route.

RCS is going to have to tell her kids something about some actual gay people someday, since they’re bound to run across some eventually. If what she plans to say is something she can’t say to her sister’s (or a child’s) face, or can’t imagine having her kids parrot back to GS and family — then shouldn’t she reconsider her words? Ask her. A defensible belief is one that covers strangers and loved ones, adults and kids.

It’s a long shot, but if she’s willing to discuss it with you — again, just this narrow, what-do-I-tell-my-kids question — then you two just might be able to work out phrasing that isn’t a cop-out the way estrangement is. Her “will not ever meet” edict is hyperbolic poo anyway, since the kids will decide for themselves whom they meet the moment they become adults.

Dear Carolyn:

I’ve been single for a long time, and one of my good female friends and I have been sort of teammates through the dating maelstrom, trading war stories and such. But now I’ve met someone. I’m unsure how to break the news to my friend — we’ve talked about how she’s been feeling left behind as her friends couple up. I just can’t imagine this being news she wants to hear.


Probably not, but it’s not a race and you haven’t crossed a finish line. Each of your lives could go in any number of unexpected directions from here. Tell her you’re happy about this new person, but you’ve also enjoyed being single with her as a teammate — and of course may soon enjoy it again, because, who knows? No matter how things turn out, you can choose not to leave her behind.

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