Own up to your choices

Own up to your choices and let the chips fall where they may

Q: I have finally reached a point in my life where I feel happy and content with being single. That shouldn't suggest that I'm now closed to the possibility of a relationship! Rather, I've just found the peace and comfort with my own company and my own life that I no longer feel the "woe is me, I don't have a girlfriend" weight.

That being said, though, I have a hard time convincing my parents of this — because I'm an only child and because I'm now entering my 30s. Since I'm their only hope of being grandparents, and since they were married at such a young age (my mother was 19 when she got married, my father was 21), I don't think either of them can relate to living a single life, let alone being content with it.

How do I get them on the same page as I am?

Maryland

A: I guess you need a copy of this column's bylaws.

(1) You cannot "get" anyone to see, believe, understand or agree to anything. Even when the process comes with a socially acceptable name, like "enlightening" someone, it is still not your place to change another adult, unless they expressly ask you to try. "Trying to convince" someone is to trespass on someone else's beliefs, however screwy you may believe they are.

(2) See (1).

Your beliefs are yours, your life is yours. That's your turf. Your job — and, conveniently, the limit of your influence — is to run your turf to the absolute best of your ability.

In this case, that includes owning your choices. It means being at peace with them. It means recognizing that your parents can make their own choices, too, about the way they view your life.

That still leaves you plenty of room to deal with your parents. It is within your turf authority, for example, to point out to your parents that this has already been discussed, and their valued opinion has been weighed. You can also explain that further discussion is not going to change your mind, that you'll get married on your terms and only on your terms, and that you'd appreciate their not dwelling on it anymore. You can ask them to trust that they've been heard, and now trust the child they raised.

You can then, politely, decline to discuss it further. You can gently change the subject when it comes up. You can excuse yourself and leave the table/room/whatever if they fail to appreciate that you mean it.

It might not be the same as having them "on the same page," but establishing and enforcing your limits will eventually show them that you're serious about their staying on their turf, and not trying to cultivate yours.

Actually, anything you say is under your jurisdiction, so feel free to express what you want most of them. "You're entitled to your beliefs, and I, too, am entitled to mine. I hope you can respect that mine are the ones I have to live by."

Own up to your choices 07/09/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 1, 2010 3:25pm]

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