DEAR CAROLYN: My daughter was recently injured in a skydiving accident and had surgery on a vertebra in her back; she skydives for fun and has more than 200 jumps and loves it. How do I tell her the risks are too high – she has children – and she shouldn’t continue skydiving? She’s determined to go again as soon as she is recovered. Scared Mom
DEAR MOM: You don’t get to tell other adults how to live their lives. You don’t even get to tell other adults how not to throw their lives out of an airplane.
Not even adults who have children, and not even if you’re the parent of the adult in question.
It is simply not your business. The showiness of the risk involved with your daughter’s hobby of choice does not change this fundamental truth. You have no more say in her choices than if her idea of fun were quilting or Scrabble or cheese.
You don’t have to like this, either, or think it’s smart, or responsible, or even moral. All that’s required is to recognize adult autonomy is a complete answer unto itself. Unless you want your daughter up in your business and bills and health choices and hobby selections, you must accept there’s no place for you in hers.
You can, however, tell her you’re scared, because that’s about you. (But she knew that 200 jumps ago, I assume.)
You can tell her you’re disappointed in her decision to keep adding this risk to her life knowing it could traumatize her kids, since that’s your opinion and therefore about you.
I would caution against this, though, as a poor use of your emotional capital: Given that she’s (presumably) going to ignore you and skydive anyway, voicing your opinion would strain your relationship with her for zero practical gain.
You can also tell her you would like to talk about any arrangements she has made for the children in the event of her death – specifically whether these plans involve you in any way. That is your business, perhaps (over)due to be discussed.
DEAR CAROLYN: Is it morally justified, on principle, for those who invite adults to weddings to exclude children, unbeknownst to their solid character and responsible actions? My child is an angel and would be a great part of any wedding procession. Anonymous
DEAR ANONYMOUS: Good thing your question was short, because I’ve now read it six times in one of my worst instances of thematic rubbernecking, and the last thing I need is a three-hour backup of letters behind me.
Not inviting your child to a wedding is immoral. You basically just said that.
To answer the question you asked, yes, it is morally justified for hosts to throw a party just for adults.
To answer the question you didn’t ask, no, your angel will not remain angelic if you transfer to her any of the sense of entitlement you just put on display.
It’s fine to be besotted with your child. Truly. It is not fine to believe you can hold the rest of the world accountable for not being as besotted with your child as you think it should be. Please, please. Just stop.
DEAR CAROLYN: I’ve been dating someone for a few months and thought things were moving in the right direction. He’s just informed me that he recently ran into an ex, and now he is confused and needs time to figure things out.
I don’t really know what that means – do I wait and see what he figures out and, if so, how do we get back on track? We’re both in our 40s and I’ve been looking for someone like him for a long time. I was starting to have real feelings, and thought this relationship had serious potential. Taking a Break
DEAR BREAK: I’m sorry. It’s surprisingly painful when the simple pleasure of someone’s company becomes complicated.
Your best chance of moving on from this, and of rekindling it should he have the proper epiphany, is to uncomplicate it again: Treat it as a breakup. Do what you would if he had ended things with you definitively instead of confusedly.