ETCETERA / ANGST: Expert advice on your problems

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I am a lesbian and a Christian, and I am suffering a good deal trying to juggle my sexuality with my Christian beliefs because it seems they are in conflict. I have been told about the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement and wonder if such a group can help me with this dilemma.

Your dilemma is still, unfortunately, all too common. However, Christianity has changed its views on sexual matters many times. After each change it becomes more accepting of human diversity and the choices its followers make in the name of integrity and their (God-given) human nature. Christianity is building on the belief that in God's eyes all are equal - including those who love their own sex. In the case of a lesbian preference, there is now a wide variety of ways in which, as a Christian, you can find support and friendship. Over nearly 20 years lesbian and gay Christians have been meeting, praying and giving one another mutual encouragement. We supply information that can get you started on the journey towards complete self-acceptance without having to compromise your faith.

Rev Richard Kirker, general secretary, Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, Oxford House, Derbyshire St, London E2 6HG. Enquiries: 071-739 1249. Helpline: 071-587 1235.

My daughter is 19 and for the past two years her attitude towards me has become viciously hostile and aggressive. There are intermittent periods when she reverts to what was her usual self, pleasantly chatty and communicative; we have always had a close and loving relationship. I do want to understand why this is happening. The impact has been to undermine my confidence, and despite appearances, I am sure my daughter is also suffering.

Adolescence is often a difficult time. Parents are having to come to terms with letting go of their children and working out a new role for themselves. Teenagers are meanwhile dealing with growing up and becoming independent. The kind of parental empathy you are displaying is required in endless supply. But it may also be helpful to reflect on your own experience of adolescence, as our childhood experiences often have an unconscious effect on the way we relate to our own children. You might look at ways to tell your child how you feel about her behaviour, for example: 'I feel really upset when you shout at me . . .' while leaving the door open for her to say what is going on for her. And there are external factors - feelings of anger about bereavement or parental separation can come up strongly in the teenage years. But you need to help yourself as well, and you might find a parent support group very helpful.

Tim Kahn, Parent Network, 44-46 Caversham Rd, London NW5 2DS. Send SAE for details of local groups.

Seven months ago my long-term boyfriend, and first sexual partner, broke off our relationship. I was devastated. Since then I have had a one-night stand which I immediately regretted, and more recently I had terrible guilt feelings about having sex with another man. I told him I felt I had let myself down, but he didn't seem to understand. I like seeing him but don't know how to negotiate my relationships with men the way I want them.

Your feelings since the break-up of an important relationship are normal - particularly since it seems you had no opportunity to discuss the reasons for the break-up. He made the decision and left you feeling rejected and unworthy. Perhaps you do not believe you can feel complete unless you are in a relationship. Your guilt about your casual sexual experience and your feelings about your current companion suggest a conflict about values. We are all exposed to the values which family, friends and society set up for us, but the only person who can decide about something as important as physical intimacy is you. The right to say 'yes', 'no' or 'maybe later' is yours to claim. There are many books which will help you to develop your self-confidence. Or perhaps you would benefit by talking to a counsellor. But do check that you find someone who will not try to impose their values upon you. You need someone who will encourage you to find your own way.

Margaret Nelson, psychotherapist and counsellor, 37 Annesdale, Ely, Cambridgeshire CB7 4BN. Tel: 0353 662659.

Write to Angst, The Sunday Review, The Independent on Sunday,

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