Dear Amy: Our adult daughter and her partner have been together since college. They live together in another city. There has been a lot of talk about marriage over the years.
Several months ago, they videotaped us to tell us that the partner no longer identifies as a man, but as a non-binary gender. He has adopted the pronouns de / dem / deres.
They should not be referred to as a “man” or her boyfriend. When / if she and they marry, they will not be her husband, but a gender-neutral designation.
My wife and I have concerns but are ultimately tolerant of their choices.
However, she and I have been using the English language for over 100 years and have a hard time making this linguistic transition.
Our daughter (not them) corrects us gently and there seems to be an indefinite repayment period for us to get it right consistently.
On a recent visit, I was corrected and still made the same mistake within a minute. I never think I’ll get a handle on this linguistic inflection.
I experienced myself (usually talkative and funny) by shutting down and saying less of concern, I will use the wrong pronoun again.
I try, but feel burdened by constant awareness of a person’s gender identity and having to choose my words so carefully.
Struggling with them
Dear fighter: You both love your daughter, and she loves you all. Always start with that.
You want to adjust.
One way to do this is to use the person’s chosen name instead of referring to the person with a pronoun, specifically if they are present, i.e .: “Chas, what do you think of it?”
You’ve known this person for a long time. This person is still there and carries the same memories and shared experiences from before this transition. So make an effort to see them for who they are and as more than just a source of something awkward or confusing to you.
Maintain your sense of humor, do not become defensive, let them know that you are a work in progress and that you hope for their continued patience as you adapt.
Dear Amy: I have never had a dog as a pet (but I have had cats and horses).
I’m uncomfortable with some things regarding my boyfriend’s German Shepherd.
Some examples: We stopped at a rest area on the highway and he let his dog out of the vehicle to run loose while using the toilet, even though there is a leash at the rest area and a designated area for dogs.
When we were camping, he let his dog run free unattended, and it peed on the mat our friends had placed in front of their camper.
His dog greets me by jumping on me. I feel like this behavior is too rude, especially when the dog’s toenails sometimes scratch me and break the skin.
When I try to walk, the dog stays right in front of me and touches me. My boyfriend says the dog will move with me while I move, but it makes me feel out of balance and I’m afraid I’m stumbling.
I have expressed my concerns to my boyfriend but he sees no problem. He says that dogs want to be dogs and that he likes dogs better than humans.
I look forward to your advice.
Dear questions: You say you have some experience with animals, and yet I maintain that any human with a shred of human sense (regardless of animal experience) would realize that a stray dog can be hit by a car, can attack another human or animal , can be taken, injured or simply choose to leave with a better suited and more responsible family.
Each scenario you present is an example of a complete lack of consideration for you – your comfort and your safety – as well as for the dog, who is obviously undisciplined and in danger.
You have been handed an extremely clear lens through which you can see this man.
If you ignore what you see, your life will literally go to the dogs.
My immediate advice is that you should set both man and dog loose to wander at the interstate rest area of life.
Dear Amy: “Dazed and Confused” was extremely saddened by the sudden return of an ex.
I completely identified with her. I got an ex who showed up again, played with my emotions, and then abruptly left – just like he had done years before.
What a waste.
Dear burned: I’m assuming you’re relieved he took a powder at this point.
You can email Amy Dickinson at email@example.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.