Q: My daughter and her boyfriend moved into my house a few months ago because they were having financial difficulties and I wanted her to be able to finish her degree, which she did in May. I started noticing how little she wanted to communicate with me, but I thought she was just busy and stressed.
Her boyfriend has anger issues that I have seen exposed.
This past week we drove out of town to go to the funeral of a family friend, just the two of us, and she talked the whole time. She was open and friendly just like the girl I knew growing up. When we returned home, she grew silent again and a little rude, and once again just stayed in her room with Boyfriend much like before.
Now Iím considering that he is controlling of her, and Iím wondering how to handle this. Where are the lines drawn between interference in her life and my concerns?
A: The line falls between what you observe and what you conclude.
What you conclude is speculation, and the space between what you know and what you think you know is where all the hard feelings collect, and where defensiveness can take root.
If instead you stick only to what you see, then you canít be wrong and donít leave room for anyone to argue with you. "I noticed something the other day. You have been quiet lately. In the car on our trip, though, you were really talkative ó like you used to be. Anyway, when we got home, you withdrew into your cocoon with [boyfriend] and got quiet again."
If she pushes back: "Iím saying that I notice a difference. If youíre in a good emotional place, then thatís what matters."
Because it is, for one. And, conveniently, itís also the hardest thing to fake if itís not true. She can explain her mood changes, rationalize whatever stress she is under right now ó but the sensation of someone weighing her down is hard to deny forever. Please be patient enough to allow her to connect her dots to yours.