DEAR HARRIETTE: My dad is a professional singer with 25 years of experience and connections I could not even dream of having. I admire all he does and want to pursue a passion similar to his.
The only problem is, I don’t even know where to start, and I’m nervous to ask him for help because we don’t talk regularly. What do you think I should do?
DEAR ASPIRING ARTIST: This may be your entry point into building a closer bond with your father.
Schedule a time to talk to him, preferably in person. Tell him how much you admire the career he has built and that he has inspired you to want to walk in his footsteps. Admit that you aren’t exactly sure what you want to do, but you would appreciate talking to him and learning more about the industry from him. Ask him if he would be willing to coach you.
One way to get your father to talk is to ask him to tell you stories about his life and career. People generally love to talk about themselves. Once he gets started telling stories, you will likely learn a lot about your father that you never knew before. Record video of your conversations if he will allow it. Since he has had such a long and full career, he may appreciate your documenting his story in this way.
As you are learning about him, listen to see what sparks your interest. In order for your father to be able to help you, even when it comes to introducing you to his connections, you need to have a sense of what you want to do. You have to get specific so that his introductions will count in terms of helping to open doors for you.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My 12-year-old brother came out to me as gay.
I’m nervous about how other family members will treat him. Sometimes I want to tell him not to let anyone else know, but I never want him to feel that his sexuality is a problem. I’m just scared of him getting bullied and ostracized.
Our father is very religious, and I feel that he may have a problem with my brother. He has made openly homophobic comments in front of him in the past. What should I tell my little brother?
DEAR PROTECTIVE: Your brother came out to you because he trusts you. You are right to want to protect him from anyone who may belittle or hurt him, especially your father.
Help your brother find support outside the home. Look for a gay youth center in your community. Look online for support groups for gay teens. Offer to be a sounding board for your brother as he explores his thoughts and feelings.
Be honest with him. You both know that your father will likely be harsh. Because your brother is a minor living in your father’s house, your father’s potential reaction to your brother’s sexuality actually is a problem. That doesn’t mean it always has to be. Figure out who else in the family may be an ally. Determine whether there might be anywhere else your brother could live when he does reveal his truth. Help to set up your brother for success and safety before he tells your parents anything.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to [email protected] or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.
Dan Carter was a reporter for nomad Labs, before becoming the lead editor. Dan has over forty bylines and has reported on countless stories concerning all things related to tech and science. Dan studied at CSUF.