How to handle a delicate matter

Dear Annie: I am a 41-year-old happily married man with three beautiful children. I have created a problem that I have no idea how to resolve.

My youngest son, Jordan, is 15 years old. He is an amazing and compassionate young man who cares deeply for others. When he was 12, he befriended a fatherless boy in his class. “Ray” is a sweet, loving boy who seemed to need a father figure in his life. Over the past three years, we have made him feel like one of the family and have often included him in family outings. I have grown very fond of him and will often greet him with a hug. He seems to see me as a role model.

A few weeks ago, Ray spent the weekend with us. On the first night, I went to Jordan’s room to tell them good night. I still give my son a good-night kiss. Maybe he is getting too old for that, but he has never protested. This night, Ray asked me for a kiss, too. He said he feels as if I’m sort of his adopted dad. I probably should not have done it, but I gave him a quick good-night kiss on the forehead.

I honestly did not think much of it at the time, but Ray started changing after that.

He became very clingy and started trying to give me multiple hugs whenever he visited.

Yesterday I received a long email from Ray expressing his love and attraction for me, saying he thinks I feel the same way about him. He talked of his desire to take our relationship to a new level and said he has never felt this way about another guy.

I was stunned. I have not responded, but I did share it with my wife. She feels I need to immediately set him straight, tell him he is no longer welcome here and tell his mother what happened. That seems like a logical solution, but I really don’t want to hurt him. I realize he is confusing his feeling of me as a father figure and romantic/sexual feelings.

I do want to be clear: I take full responsible for this situation. I don’t blame Ray. Perhaps I gave him too much attention. — A Concerned Dad

Dear Concerned Dad: Because this is such a delicate situation and I don’t know the full details of Ray’s background (his relationship with his mom, overall support system, etc.), I’d encourage you to reach out to someone who specializes in counseling LGBTQ youths.

The Trevor Project is a great resource. Call its 24/7 hotline at 866-488-7386. I’d also recommend replying to Ray’s email with kindness and directness, clearly stating that you have no romantic interest in him whatsoever and are sorry that things have been misconstrued.

Editor’s note: Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com. To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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