DEAR DON’T WANT TO ARGUE: Your stepmother appears to be a homophobe. The only way your sister’s attire could reflect on your stepmother would be if she went to school unwashed and wearing soiled, tattered clothing. Not all lesbians dress in the same style; some are very feminine. If Cheryl were a lesbian, it would be nothing to be ashamed of. Children who are called names and bullied as your stepmother is doing can become depressed to the point of self-harm or risky behavior. Because you are afraid you will be punished if you speak up, find a teacher or counselor at school you can confide in about what’s going on. Your parents could benefit from an intervention — and so could Cheryl.
DEAR ABBY: I have been overweight more than half my life. I have tried many diets and exercise plans, and invariably I gain all those pounds back. I’m planning to have gastric sleeve surgery as soon as my surgeon can fit me into his schedule. Although I have gone through all of the required office visits with my primary care provider, I haven’t made a final decision because I’m nervous about it. No one in my family knows except my husband. My parents are elderly and probably would hate it and worry about me, so I don’t want them to know. As for my children, I know they won’t like it, but I don’t mind their knowing. I will (hopefully) lose 60 to 70 pounds. Should I tell them in advance or wait until it becomes obvious? I’m a private person and don’t want anyone outside my immediate family knowing about this. I certainly don’t want any negative or snarky remarks from neighbors or my church family. Am I being ridiculous, selfish or silly? If I don’t disclose, how will I explain how I lost the weight if someone asks without spilling my secret? — READY FOR A CHANGE DOWN SOUTH
DEAR READY: A way to do that would be to reply, “I have made the decision not to discuss my weight anymore. Please respect that.”
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.