Coming to terms with reality


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Dear Alex,

I'm gay and don't know what to do or how to tell my parents. I'm scared they'll hate me and won't accept my decision. What is the best way to tell them?

In the closet


Dear In the closet,

Sensitive issues are difficult to talk about. But remember that you can't control your parents' reaction - that's not your responsibility.

Join a support group for advice and useful information. Some excellent websites also give step-by-step guides for coping with sexual identity, telling others and "coming out" in public.

Do research before talking to your parents. Contact Rainbow of Hong Kong, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organisation, or Kely Support Group which helps young people with various issues. Read the website for practical tips and where you can leave a question for parenting consultant Claire Marketos.

With such support, you'll feel much stronger and less afraid.

Dear Alex,

My parents are always fighting and I'm afraid they'll get divorced. I don't want to live with just one parent and I'm worried that my four-year-old sister won't remember our family being together. What can I do to keep my mother and father together?

Separation anxiety


Dear Separation anxiety,

This is a traumatic situation for you and I understand that you feel stressed out and worried about your family's future. As the older child, you also want to protect your little sister from heartache.

This situation is not your fault and you cannot get directly involved in trying to save your parents' marriage. What you can do is talk to them about how you are feeling.

Explain your fears, using "I" sentences rather than "you" sentences. For example, say: "I feel sad and scared when you fight" rather than "You are making me sad and scared". This way, you are not pointing fingers at them and causing more anger and stress. You are simply letting them know how the situation affects you.

You are also old enough now to ask for the facts. Gently explain that you would like to understand what is happening and that you are strong enough to handle the truth.

You probably have lots of questions and concerns about this situation. For more information and support, please visit or contact Samaritans Hong Kong

Dear Alex,

I found a packet of cigarettes in my sister's room recently. I've suspected that she smokes for quite a while, but now I've found proof. Should I confront her and make her confess to our parents? Or should I just tell them myself?

Distressing over confessing


Dear Distressing over confessing,

Trying to do the right thing without hurting people you love can be so difficult. You care about your sister and know that smoking is unhealthy for her, but you're understandably afraid that your relationship will suffer if you tell your parents.

There is no right or wrong way to handle this situation - a lot depends on what type of friendship you have with your sister and how strict your parents are. Only you know how they are all likely to react.

Your sister may be under peer pressure and trying to fit in with a "cool group" at school, or perhaps she is just curious about smoking and wants to know what it feels like.

A good first step is to tell your sister about the cigarettes. Explain how this makes you feel, without getting angry or upset, and tell her that you're worried about her health. Listen carefully to her side of the story and let her know that you love her and don't want her to get into trouble.

Contact Kely Support Group and the Smoking Cessation Youth Quitline on 2855 9557. Give your sister information to help her stop smoking.

If your sister's general behaviour gets worse, or she seems to be in the wrong crowd and starts acting in a negative way, consider talking to your parents as a last resort, or asking a counsellor at Kely for advice.

But give your sister the benefit of the doubt first. Your relationship is important and you are not responsible for her actions - you have nothing to feel guilty about.

Our new agony aunt, Alex, will answer your questions, ease your doubts, and help you make difficult decisions. Email your problems to [email protected] and keep an eye out for Alex's answers. And don't worry, you can remain anonymous.