Being right doesn't matter to daughter
Dear Carolyn • Quick background: I wrote to you before about my daughter's on-again/off-again relationship with her boyfriend whom we didn't like, and you wisely advised us that it was none of our business unless abuse or drug use or something was involved. We stepped down on the situation and they finally broke up for good. About a year later, I discovered he had a serious drug addiction and that was leading to all of their ups and downs. So, it turns out that our instincts were correct when we thought he was not good for her. Fast-forward to now. She still hasn't looked for a relationship with anyone else and she doesn't trust her instincts, even though it's been almost two years since the breakup. That is her business, but her resentment toward us is ongoing. She still is angry at the way we wouldn't accept him. We feel there are very few people who would be in favor of such a relationship and we stand by our opinion that the relationship was bad for her. She says if we truly loved her and accepted her, we would accept her choices. We say, as parents, we can't help but be protective of our child, even one who is a young adult. How can we all get past this disaster of a relationship and the cracked pieces of our relationship with her?
We Were Right About the Boyfriend
Dear Right • Being right is an addictive substance of its own. With this guy, you called it, yes good eye. But, the ex-boyfriend's failings and what your daughter is upset about are two different things. When she says, "You should have accepted my choices," your "But we were right!" response is an emotional non sequitur. She isn't talking about the guy, she's talking about herself, and you keep coming back with responses about the guy. Accordingly, if you want this impasse behind you, then you'll need to stop defaulting to your rightness about the ex-boyfriend, and admit you were wrong about your daughter. What she's asking you to provide, rightly, is acceptance that her choices are hers to make. What you owe her, given her current distrust of her instincts, is reinforcement that she doesn't need Mommy and Daddy to step in if one of those choices goes bad.
Carolyn Hax's column runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.