Dear Annie: My 21-year-old daughter has been dating “Charlie” for three years. My daughter attends college, works and has many plans for her future. She is a beautiful, fun-loving, intelligent girl – until it comes to Charlie. Charlie barely graduated high school, shifts from job to job and doesn’t care about the future. They never go out with her friends, always his. He rarely comes to our house – our daughter always goes to his place. He constantly is text messaging her to find out where she is and with whom.
We’ve told her we can’t get to know Charlie if he refuses to come around. We invited him to a family dinner for my daughter’s birthday, and he promised to attend, but at the last minute, said he was “too sick” – a common excuse for him. We also invited his parents, but his mother “fell asleep and forgot.”
Our daughter says Charlie is her soul mate, but we think she is being taken advantage of. Now that she is 21, our hands are tied, not that she would listen to us anyway. We have a great relationship otherwise. I would hate to see her stuck with Charlie for the rest of her life. What can we do? – Concerned Parents
Dear Parents: Not too much. We worry that Charlie keeps your daughter from her friends and tracks her whereabouts. We suspect she feels Charlie needs her, and it would be cruel to break up with him, but he is no doubt manipulating that attitude to keep her around. She needs to see this controlling behavior for what it is, and before it gets worse. If you can point these things out, calmly and lovingly, she may pay attention, but unfortunately, the final decision is hers.
Dear Annie: I have three sons, my in-laws’ only grandsons. The problem is, they favor girls so much they refuse to visit us and haven’t in over 10 years, even though they drive through our town in order to visit their daughters, who have girls.
I’ve invited them to visit, only to be rebuffed time and again.
My husband has spoken to his parents about this, but they don’t see a problem. to visit whomever they wish. My parents are deceased, and these are the boys’ only grandparents. Any ideas? – Hopeless in Seattle
Dear Hopeless: Your in-laws are missing out on a wonderful relationship with their grandsons, not to mention they are creating tremendous ill will with their son and daughter-in-law. You can do nothing about people who are so shortsighted and hard-hearted. Fill your sons’ lives with substitute grandparents – neighbors, friends or volunteers from community and church groups, who will appreciate the young men they are becoming.