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Carolyn Hax: Parents hear alarm bells over daughter’s boyfriend

Carolyn Hax: Parents hear alarm bells over daughter’s boyfriend | Interesting Reading to learn English -intermediate - advanced (B1, B2, C1,) | Scoop.it
Parents could be using the wrong tactic in conveying their concerns about the dating situation.

 

Dear Carolyn:

 

Our daughter, 25, has started seeing a man 16 years her senior. Yes, do the math: He’s 41.

I’m 51. Am I crazy to feel this is just not right? The man’s last girlfriend was also in her 20s and most of his “crowd” are just as young.

 

My daughter’s answers to this are, “He’s young at heart; he had a rough time and made changes when he reached his 30s; he’s a good man.” My husband and I have serious doubts. I think even if he were much closer in age, those same doubts would be there.

 

Yes, we raised our daughter to be smart, successful, caring and open-minded. And she is. We’ve talked about this issue a few times. Each of us shedding a few tears. I just can’t find it in my heart to accept him. (We’ve never talked to him about how we feel, although our daughter says he knows.)

 

She says she has a hard time understanding where I’m coming from. She doesn’t come over to the house with him. I feel the distance between us widening, and I’m just a wreck. I don’t want to be a hypocrite and say I’m okay with the relationship when I’m not. How do I get past this?

 

Is Age Really Just a Number?

 

Whether age is “really just a number” is a legitimate and interesting question, but not the one I’d be asking here. You veer that way yourself: You suspect having doubts “even if he were much closer in age.”

Yes, exactly — because the doubts aren’t about his age per se. His age triggered your “ick” reflex because it’s close to yours, a normal reaction you need to acknowledge then get over, because adults are adults and love is love.

 

The doubts, though, you take seriously, because this might not be love. His back story — young girlfriends, young friends, the “young at heart” coffee-expeller — suggests he’s seeking comfort in your daughter’s demographic vs. seeking an equal in your daughter. It’s unsettling for anyone to see a loved one targeted instead of appreciated, be it for age or income or ethnicity or whatever else.

 

You also have the added distress of hearing your daughter recite the Oath of the Gullible, also known as a list of excuses for someone — and of knowing she has a ready-made reason to tune you out. “They’re just freaked by his age,” she’ll tell anyone with ears.

 

So act first, and “get past this” later. Namely, speak up again — but with careful respect for your daughter’s autonomy and judgment. Your bobbled first tries likely motivated her to dig in to defend her judgment.

Opening: “I’ve handled this badly, I’m sorry.”

 

Detail 1: “I was wrong to make this about age. Happiness is about the right person, not the right age.”

 

Detail 2: “And that’s why I reacted: His track record might mean he’s choosing people by age. Not that you’re not lovable for you — you are. That’s what you deserve.”

 

Bottom line: “Who you date isn’t my business. I just ask that you be watchful — of anyone who has a pattern, not just this guy.”

Closing: “In return, and in hopes that set the record straight, I will trust you and butt out.”

 

. . . And cross your fingers. Good luck.

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Ask Amy: Parents are worried about their divorced 26-year-old son's affair with a family friend, 48.

Ask Amy: Parents are worried about  their divorced 26-year-old son's  affair with a family friend, 48. | Interesting Reading to learn English -intermediate - advanced (B1, B2, C1,) | Scoop.it

 Amy Dickinson offers straightforward advice on relationships, family and life in her syndicated column, Ask Amy.

 

"DEAR AMY: My wife and I will soon have confirmed what we have suspected for some time: Our 26-year-old son and our 48-year-old female friend are having an affair.

 

We are not comfortable with this situation. We know that they are both adults, so there is nothing that we can really do about this, but I know he is going to disclose this soon and don’t know how to respond.

 

Besides the huge age difference, several factors bother us: Her oldest daughter is my son’s age, the friend and my son both recently started working together at a startup company, and both have recently ended relationships (she has split from a relationship of 18 years, and he from a six-month marriage that ended in divorce).

 

I am disappointed in his choices (I thought he jumped into the first marriage too quickly but supported him nonetheless) and am not sure how to handle this situation. My wife and I were good friends with this woman, but with this revelation the relationship is beyond repair.

 

Even though they are adults, this feels like a predator situation to us.

What advice can you provide for us on how to handle the conversation? -- Perplexed Parent

 

DEAR PERPLEXED: The best way for you to handle this anticipated disclosure is to calm down and prepare yourselves by realizing, in your bones, that you don’t have to like something for it to still happen.

 

At the age of 26, your son has already had a brief marriage and has now bounced into another romantic relationship that also may not last. You might struggle to imagine the appeal for either of them because of the extreme age difference, but unless he is unusually emotionally, physically or cognitively vulnerable, it is hard to see how he has been victimized.

 

There is no reason to sugarcoat your own reality. There is also no reason for you to bring up all the various ways and reasons you object to this; I assure you they will not care one whit. You are under no obligation to be supportive, but you really must accept this, because it is happening."

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