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Offer daughter assistance minus strings, and hope she gets help

Offer daughter assistance minus strings, and hope she gets help

Q: My 29-year-old, unmarried daughter is underemployed and without health insurance. I'd like to help her by suggesting that I pay for half the cost of insuring her. Would it be reasonable to ask in return for an agreement to quit smoking and decrease the amount she drinks?

I definitely think she fits the prototype of an alcohol abuser, drinking to excess several times a month that I know of. I believe she is in need of counseling, as she is also in a long-term relationship in which the man constantly lets her down in significant ways. She would gladly go to counseling if she had help paying for it.

Anonymous

A: I get why you're asking this. You're poised to hand over a lot of money to your daughter, and you're uncomfortable with stepping in to improve her health while she's still actively damaging it. From that perspective, asking her to meet you halfway would seem like a reasonable thing to ask.

But your daughter needs help, not judgments and strings. The smoking and the drinking are dominoes that need to fall, but they aren't the first ones in line. First in line, always always, is her own desire to change.

If she'd "gladly go" to counseling if she had the money, then that first domino has already tipped. The best thing you can do as a parent — and by "best" I mean potentially the most productive, and therefore the most reasonable — is make sure that first domino actually starts your daughter's chain reaction toward reclaiming herself.

The best way to do that is to pay for half of her insurance without strings attached, because good counseling will address the root causes of her problems, which will then give her the tools to take on the alcohol, cigs, boyfriend, employment and broken self-image in whatever order she's ready to take them on.

If after the first year she shows no signs of putting her insurance to good use, then you can revisit the strings. To put it into gratuitous theraspeak: She either takes this opportunity to empower herself, or you're just enabling her.

Examine your motive before telling boyfriend 'I love you'

Q: I am 27 and have been in a relationship for about eight months now. I want to tell my boyfriend that I love him, but I am nervous because neither of us has said it yet, and I've never said it to anyone. Should I just go for it, or is there a good reason for me to hold off?

Boston

A: Depends on what you want out of it. If you want him to know he's loved, and it happens to be by you, then just go for it.

If instead you want to say it to find out whether he loves you, too, then don't say it. There's too great a chance you won't like the answer: Either he doesn't say it back, leaving you hurt, embarrassed and possibly regretful for speaking up "too soon"; or he does say it, prompting you to wonder if he merely caved to pressure.

When in doubt, wait until it seems so obvious and natural that you won't regret it, no matter what the result.

Offer daughter assistance minus strings, and hope she gets help 01/21/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 3:18pm]

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