Hax: Dad worries about daughter’s choices

The Washington PostAugust 7, 2013 

Dear Carolyn: I guess I’m old-school because my 23-year-old daughter has moved in with her boyfriend and I have concerns about almost everything. On one hand, I know she is an adult and, even though I think it is morally wrong for two people to have sex before marriage, I will need to accept her choice. On the other hand, I know problems could arise no matter how much they think everything will be all right.

She knows my basic feelings and, since she now lives over 4,000 miles away, things can be a bit tricky when we discuss her new living situation. My question is whether I should warn her about the legal issues. She might take it the wrong way. I did find a nice website that covers the issues pretty well. Would it be better for me to send it to her without letting her know about it, ask her if she wants to see it then send it only if she agrees, or back off?

HAWAII DAD

“Problems could arise no matter how much they think everything will be all right.” This is true of cohabiting, yes.

It’s also true of getting married, having children, driving a car, riding in a car, having a job, not having a job, crossing the street, eating food or taking a shower.

If you believed your daughter wasn’t taking an adult approach to these other risks, then how would you respond — would you suggest websites that discuss reasonable precautions she can take? Would you decide the potential benefit to her outweighed the possible cost to your relationship for appearing meddlesome? Possibly most important — what’s the precedent? Have you typically sent her articles explaining, say, the increasing severity of the weather in her part of the country, or new research linking a favorite food of hers to cancer? If so, then, sure, send her the link to that website. Asking whether she wants it would be a respectful touch.

But if you are moved to send cautionary links only when your daughter makes decisions that don’t align with your values, then expect her to interpret — or recognize? — your motive as an attempt to control, not protect, and back off.

Email tellme@washpost.com. Chat online at 10 a.m. Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.

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