Daugh­ter’s high-risk hobby causes mas­sive con­cern

The Idaho Statesman (Sunday) - - TELEVISION/EXPLORE - BY CAROLYN HAX Wash­ing­ton Post

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 over­due to be dis­cussed.

Dear Carolyn: Is it morally jus­ti­fied 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.


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: My fam­ily wants us to travel to Europe with our 18-mon­thold. We have only ever flown with the kid dur­ing the day­time out of con­sid­er­a­tion, and that has worked out fine, but un­for­tu­nately the only flights that ex­ist this time are red-eyes. (I’ve looked. A lot.) Are they crazy? Are we crazy to even be con­sid­er­ing it?


Dear Crazy: Peo­ple who are de­ployed, have fam­ily or other strong ties over­seas, re­lo­cate in­ter­na­tion­ally, or just en­joy travel do this all the time.

That you’re con­cerned enough for your fel­low pas­sen­gers even to con­sider skip­ping this trip is what makes you an out­lier. Pre­pare well, go, en­joy.

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 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 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.

If he de­cides he’s over the ex and misses you, and if you still care, then date him as you did be­fore – as an open ques­tion you’re hop­ing to an­swer with time.

Email Carolyn at tellme@wash­post.com

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