Son keeps his social life from his parents' view

DEAR ABBY: Our 22-year-old son stays with us. He has a part-time job and goes to school part-time. He is somewhat secretive. We don't know his friends or where he goes.

One day he brought a male friend over and they hung out in our guesthouse, drinking and playing video games. This went on for several hours and then the blinds closed. My husband wasn't comfortable with that, so he knocked on the door and went in to talk to them. He asked the friend if he had a girlfriend, and the friend said no — that he's bisexual. Our son then announced that he is also bisexual.

We have only met one girl that he dated and the male friend who was over. The friend did say he isn't interested in our son, that they are strictly friends. I don't think my husband should have quizzed our son in front of his friend.

Our son has a chip on his shoulder and an "I don't care attitude" about many things. He blames a lot of things on his ADHD. He acts like he can't multitask or concentrate on what he's supposed to do. He tries, but if he forgets to do something, he gets an attitude from time to time. I don't know what to think.

— FRUSTRATED IN WASHINGTON

DEAR FRUSTRATED: I can't help but wonder if your husband would have been as curious (and intrusive) if your son had been entertaining a woman in the guesthouse.

Your son has been honest with you about his sexual orientation. He's an adult and should be entitled to privacy regardless of the gender of his companion. He has also been honest about his limitations because of his attention deficit problem.

Unless he is breaking some rule that you and your husband have set in your home, what you should think is that your son is working, taking classes and trying his best to become independent. Perhaps if your husband is less heavy-handed with his questions, your son's attitude may improve.

DEAR ABBY: I have been in a relationship with someone for 11 months. He has full custody of an 8-year-old son from a previous relationship. The mother hasn't been in the child's life for two years. His son knows I am his father's girlfriend and has seen us be affectionate with each other. He has also heard us say "I love you."

Lately, the boy has been saying "I love you" to me, and I am torn about how to respond. We have a good relationship, and I do care for him and his well-being, but I don't know how to respond when he says this. Do I say "I love you" back because I care for him, or should I not respond? I don't know if he's just mimicking what he sees or hears, but I also don't want to teach him that he shouldn't be open about his feelings.

— CAUGHT OFF-GUARD

DEAR CAUGHT: All children want to feel loved. Because you care about the boy, give him a hug and say you love him, too, and always will.

I do have one caveat, however. If your relationship with his father doesn't work out, it is very important that you and the child's dad talk to him and tell him that the breakup has nothing to do with HIM, that it is not his fault, and he (the boy) will always have a special place in your heart.

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