Q: Our son shocked my husband and me by calling off his engagement to "Molly" last month. He gave us almost no explanation. We were disappointed — we love Molly and wanted her to be part of our family. For almost a month, we believed our son was the one who had called off the wedding. Molly reached out to us this week and explained that she called it off because of our son's confessed infidelity.
Now I feel even worse. I've been holding on to this email for days without mentioning it to my son. Should I talk to him about it?
Carolyn: No. You already feel too deeply and know too much. Your son is currently digesting the consequences of his actions without your having to do or say a thing, and that's how it should be. Let things settle, and give your son a chance to come to you with a more truthful version of events if and when he's ready, if ever.
It can also be knowledge you add to the pot of your understanding — of what happened, of your son, of past events that made no sense at the time, of future events that you'll see with new eyes — and draw from as you continue through life with your son, understanding that he's as much a bundle of gifts and flaws and triumphs and colossal screw-ups as the rest of us, which is why it's so great to have parents around who love the whole bundle.
Anonymous: Don't be too hard on your son or too judgmental. Only the two of them know what really went down, and right now you have only one side of the story. He needs your unconditional support no matter what caused the breakup.
Carolyn: Well argued, thanks.