Express concern to daughter if you think it will help anything

Express concerns to daughter if you think it will somehow help

Q: My daughter and her boyfriend recently bought a house together. She talks as if they will be getting married (what they want at the wedding, what kind of ring he wants, etc.) but they are not officially engaged.

I'm trying to be patient because she's 30 and her own person, but I can't help but feel having a financial responsibility (the house) makes it even more important to make the relationship legal — for tax reasons, if nothing else. I try not to bring the topic up, but it really eats at me. Doesn't help that I'm pretty traditional about relationships and the living-together thing isn't comfortable for me. How do I get past this?

Seattle

A: You're traditional, you're worried for a few reasons, and you're mindful that your daughter is a sentient, independent adult.

If you do think it will help to say something to your daughter, then your best approach would be to neither deny nor minimize nor omit any one of these three elements. For example: "You're capable of running your own life, and if you don't dismiss me on those grounds, you'll probably write me off as traditional and upset about the whole living-together thing. You wouldn't be wrong either way. However, I'd sleep better at night if I knew you were protecting yourself financially, and not just counting on this marriage to happen." In your words, of course.

That's a message that shows loving concern for your daughter without judging her or muscling in on her turf; you're asking for assurance that she has considered X or Y contingency, vs. requesting a course of action that's more to your liking. As long as your relationship with your daughter isn't compromised for some other reason, it will endure that expression of concern, if not be strengthened by it.

We're a long way from that initial "if," so I'll repeat it: Say this if you think you have something to share that will help — i.e., that she hasn't (to your knowledge) already thought out.

It may be that she has already tried to assure you that her eyes are open and her financial and legal position is sound. In that case, your expressing concern for her would come across as a barely veiled request that she do things your way — so I'd recommend instead that you keep your fingers crossed, and in your pocket.

Long-term partner has become husband in their eyes

Q: I am in a long-term relationship, and we have a kid. However, we're not married. Nobody's business but our own why not.

People will often refer to my partner as my husband. I tend not to correct this, especially if the reference is casual or the speaker is a co-worker. Do I owe it to anyone to correct such misunderstandings? Or is it in the same category as refraining from telling the world that my hair isn't really brown, it's white but I color it?

So, Is Your Husband . . .?

A: Technically it's a lie of omission. But since all you're omitting is information that is of no consequence to others — and that would needlessly bog down an otherwise light conversation — I believe you can call it a lie of poetic license and employ it without second thought. As for the hair, they probably already know.

Express concern to daughter if you think it will help anything 09/07/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 7, 2010 5:30am]

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