She can’t stop judg­ing boyfriend’s daugh­ter

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - Tapshowguide - Ask Carolyn Carolyn Hax

Dear Carolyn: I’ve been dat­ing a won­der­ful man, “Len,” for a few months now and it’s been re­ally great. We have a lot in com­mon — we’re both di­vorced, suc­cess­ful and have grown daugh­ters.

I’m strug­gling with keep­ing an open mind about Len’s daugh­ter, “Becca.” While Becca is beau­ti­ful and smart, she is also, for some­one in her early 20s, opin­ion­ated, sar­cas­tic, and very open about her sex life. She de­scribes her­self as “aro­man­tic” (i.e., not in­ter­ested in any­thing long-term with men), which I would find equally un­ac­cept­able if she were male. She couldn’t be more different from my daugh­ters, and while I know that’s her right, I find my­self silently judg­ing her choices all of the time. She also en­gages in risky sports like rock- and ice-climb­ing, which wor­ries Len a lot, but she doesn’t let that bother her at all.

I’m afraid my at­ti­tude is go­ing to be­come ev­i­dent, so I’d rather change how I feel about her rather than just keep hid­ing it. How do I do that?

— Silently Judg­ing

Wait a minute. Fully grown Becca shouldn’t climb be­cause her daddy doesn’t like it? She should com­mit to a man long-term even though she’s not in­ter­ested (and these unions are wretched, re­gard­less of whether a man or woman forces them)? She can be opin­ion­ated and sar­cas­tic, but only if it stops by her early 20s?

I’d take a hun­dred Bec­cas over one more 1955.

You don’t have to love her or even en­joy her com­pany, but please at least rec­og­nize:

How badly the world needs its Bec­cas and other char­ac­ters. How your own daugh­ters to­day reap the ben­e­fits of the fear­less Bec­cas of yes­ter­day. How bor­ing the world would be if all the Bec­cas were shamed into hid­ing by peo­ple who think brassi­ness is just a fail­ure of breed­ing and taste.

How un­seemly it is to judge oth­ers, pe­riod, whose chief of­fense is to be different from you, as if the su­pe­ri­or­ity of your way is a given.

Again — don’t like her? OK. Your pre­rog­a­tive. She may well have crossed the line any­way be­tween be­ing her badass self and seek­ing at­ten­tion for it. But that’s not what you’ve cited here, and not what you’re judg­ing.

What you find dis­taste­ful about Becca all sounds like a 2018 remix of, so help me, her not act­ing like a lady. And the rem­edy for judg­ing is to in­ter­nal­ize how wrong it is to judge.

So please re­con­sider. Thank you.

Dear Carolyn: My 33-year-old son lives three hours away. He talks for six months about plan­ning for ma­jor va­ca­tions in Ice­land or Mex­ico, but I can’t get him to com­mit to hol­i­day plans. If he doesn’t want us to travel to him for a visit or doesn’t want to travel here, I’m fine. If he wants to stay home with his girl­friend (she’s in­vited), I’m OK with that as well. I just want to know so I can make plans.

I’ve tried talk­ing to him about it, but he puts me off with, “I’m not sure yet.”

Any idea why I can’t get a straight an­swer? It’s tough to plan around some­one who can’t com­mit ei­ther way.

— Lov­ing but Frus­trated Dad Months of plan­ning is how your son says “yes.”

Months of be­ing non­com­mit­tal is how your son says “no.”

I’m sorry. It’s not his best trait I’m sure, but it’s also not just his — ask any­one who tries to en­ter­tain these days how many guests re­spond late to in­vi­ta­tions — if they even re­spond at all.

It’s enough to kill some friend­ships but not, I be­lieve, enough to split a fam­ily.

So sug­gest hol­i­day plans to your son, al­low him a lim­ited time win­dow to give you an an­swer, then, if he still re­fuses to com­mit by the end of it, pro­ceed with your own plans and just say he’s wel­come to join you (when fea­si­ble). That’s the most rea­son­able of the op­tions he’s giv­ing you.

It helps to be as flex­i­ble as you can, and as emo­tion­ally trans­par­ent: “We miss you. We hope you can join us for (hol­i­day). If not, then maybe a long week­end in Fe­bru­ary?”

Hi, Carolyn: I have a friend who has been see­ing some­one for about a year, and she wants him to meet me. We don’t have any mu­tual friends and so this would al­most cer­tainly hap­pen with just the three of us. To make mat­ters worse, they have a some­what unique sit­u­a­tion that I don’t re­ally think is great, to the point that she once con­sid­ered break­ing it off and I said I thought she should. It’s not the type of sit­u­a­tion where she is in any dan­ger, though, and since she chose to stay, I try to be sup­port­ive.

I sim­ply don’t want to have a twoon-one cof­fee ses­sion with them. Is there any way I could tell her I’d rather not with­out hurt­ing her feel­ings?

— Squeaky Third Wheel

She’s your friend. It’s cof­fee. Just set low ex­pec­ta­tions and go.

Email Carolyn at tellme@wash­, fol­low her on Face­book at www.face­ or chat with her on­line at noon Eastern time each Fri­day at www.wash­ing­ton­

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