Par­ents fear los­ing a son

Los Angeles Times - - COMICS - Send ques­tions to Amy Dickinson by email to askamy@ tri­bune. com.

Dear Amy: We have al­ways been close to our son. Since he has been in a se­ri­ous re­la­tion­ship with a woman, he seems to have put her first — and on a pedestal.

We feel like we don’t know him any­more and don’t see him so much any­more. We have heard how sons lean to­ward the girl’s side and that daugh­ters are closer to their own fam­i­lies.

There have been hor­ri­ble sto­ries about fu­ture daugh­ters- in- law. We are told to be care­ful of how we be­have and what we say. I want us all to be close.

How do we deal with this pos­si­ble daugh­ter- in- law?

Wor­ried Mom

Dear Wor­ried: You don’t men­tion mak­ing any ef­fort at all to get to know your son’s part­ner. Surely he could do a bet­ter job of bring­ing you to­gether, but he’s not do­ing that — and so you should.

It is nat­u­ral for adults to cre­ate a small cir­cle around their part­ner, with them­selves at the cen­ter. Per­haps you and your hus­band did that when you f irst got to­gether. Ideally, you want your son to be an in­ti­mate and in­volved part­ner to his spouse. He will do this by putting her f irst. And you must not only let him do this but un­der­stand that he will do this and ac­cept that there are many pos­i­tive as­pects in his choice.

Do you want your son to be happy, even if he is cre­at­ing some dis­tance from you? I hope the an­swer is yes. Your re­sponse should be to con­vey to him, “We are de­lighted that you have found some­one who makes you so happy. We would love to get to know her bet­ter. Can you two come to din­ner so we can get to know her?”

Your con­cern about this dis­tance ( and silent judg­ment about his choices) may make the dis­tance and ten­sion worse.

So yes, you must be care­ful, re­spect­ful and open and ac­cept­ing of this change in your fam­ily sys­tem. This woman might sur­prise you — and you should do your best to loop her in.

Dear Amy: My part­ner was host­ing a birth­day din­ner for a daugh­ter at a res­tau­rant. We had five young peo­ple with us, rang­ing in age from early 20s to early 30s.

My part­ner and I are in our mid- 50s. I was sur­prised to see our guests spend­ing so much time tex­ting ( or do­ing what­ever) on their cell­phones dur­ing din­ner.

We tried to keep the con­ver­sa­tion in­ter­est­ing and rel­e­vant, yet they spent a lot of time with their heads down, look­ing at their phones, and not en­gag­ing in the con­ver­sa­tion.

This was sad, be­cause we only get to­gether with them for birthdays and hol­i­days.

How should we han­dle this? Should we ask that cell­phones be put away dur­ing a fam­ily gath­er­ing? Or is that just not re­al­is­tic these days, and I should be thank­ful that they even join us?


Dear K: At the start of din­ner, you should ask the group, “How about we all turn our phones off dur­ing din­ner so we can com­mu­ni­cate the old- fash­ioned way?”

They will ei­ther re­luc­tantly com­ply or will not. But you will have done your best — in a good- na­tured and good- hu­mored way — to get things kicked off well.

Af­ter that, you make a point of ask­ing good ques­tions, bring­ing oth­ers into the con­ver­sa­tion, and do your best to be a great and at­ten­tive lis­tener. Your ex­am­ple is one for these younger peo­ple to fol­low.

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