Time for dif­fer­ent friend­ship with daugh­ter

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - PAUSE & PLAY - El­lie Tesher

Q - My 21-year-old daugh­ter and I have al­ways been very close. We’ve spent lots of time do­ing dif­fer­ent ac­tiv­i­ties to­gether.

She never had very close friends and I en­joyed be­ing with her rather than with friends.

She’s in her third year of Univer­sity and likes a guy, 31, whom she met on­line. The age­gap re­ally both­ers my hus­band and me, but she says it doesn’t mat­ter.

She’s been with him a cou­ple of months, only went to his place twice. Re­cently, she stayed all night and didn’t tell us where she was un­til the next af­ter­noon.

We were very wor­ried and thought some­thing bad must’ve hap­pened. She’s usu­ally re­li­able al­though has stayed out late with him.

She says they only slept to­gether with­out any sex and wants to do this more of­ten but will let me know ahead.

I find it very hard to agree with this.

She’s never been with a guy sex­u­ally or had a boyfriend. She says they just want to sleep be­side each other but we know what’ll hap­pen soon.

She’s liv­ing at home and has only just got­ten a part-time job.

Are we wrong to be up­set? Be­cause of her age, do I need to ac­cept it?

We’ve had sev­eral ar­gu­ments over this. I don’t want to lose her. At least she doesn’t drink or do drugs, and ap­par­ently he doesn’t ei­ther.

She’s en­ter­ing her fi­nal year at Univer­sity and men­tion­ing sheíd like her own place. I’d like her at home as long as pos­si­ble as I’ll miss her very much.

I know it’d help if I had some close friends, but I find it hard to meet new peo­ple I like.

She com­pro­mised, say­ing that she won’t stay all night for a month, but will then want to, and feels she should be able to make her own de­ci­sions.

Mother-Daugh­ter Im­passe

A - You can’t be best friends with your daugh­ter and also is­sue parental or­ders and re­stric­tions with­out ex­pect­ing some give and take.

Her choice of an older, pre­sum­ably more ma­ture boyfriend is un­sur­pris­ing, since her com­pan­ion­ship for years has re­volved around you.

Now is the time to be clear (though not harsh or over-anx­ious) in your mother role about the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties be­tween you two.

While still liv­ing at home, she must let par­ents know if she’ll be out all night or home ex­cep­tion­ally late.

It’s a safety fac­tor for her, and a nec­es­sary cour­tesy so you and your hus­band don’t worry.

While still fi­nan­cially de­pen­dent on you, mov­ing out isn’t taken for granted. It needs to be dis­cussed, with clear un­der­stand­ing of costs, who’s pay­ing what, and whether it’s a loan to be re­paid, etc.

As for the boyfriend, get to know him rather than judge/re­ject him be­cause of his age.

Sex will hap­pen soon enough, even if not with him, so make sure she’s in­formed about safe sex, and also con­fi­dent about her right to not con­sent un­til she’s ready and will­ing.

It’s time for a dif­fer­ent type of friend­ship with her — as a lov­ing ad­vi­sor, ask­ing her only the lead­ing ques­tions that she must start to an­swer for her­self.

Re­ly­ing on her for your main com­pan­ion­ship is no longer help­ful to her or to your re­la­tion­ship.

Q-Our same-age neigh­bor ad­dresses my wife in­ap­pro­pri­ately: “Hi, Sweetie, Babe!” In front of me once too! She hates it but we both feel awk­ward to con­front it.

So­lu­tion?

A - Re­sponse: “I’m not your Babe, and only my hus­band’s Sweetie. How are you oth­er­wise?”

TIP OF THE DAY

Ad­vis­ing adult chil­dren re­quires help­ing them think for them­selves. Liv­ing with them re­quires clear un­der­stand­ings be­tween you.

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