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Support daughter sticking up for herself

Hi, Carolyn: Quick background: I wrote to you before about my daughter’s on-again/off-again relationship with her boyfriend whom we didn’t like, and you wisely advised us that it was none of our business unless abuse or drug use or something was involved.

We stepped down on the situation and they finally broke up.

About a year later, I discovered he had a serious drug addiction. So, it turns out that our instincts were correct when we thought he was not good for her.

Fast-forward to now. She hasn’t looked for a relationship with anyone else and doesn’t trust her instincts, even though it’s been almost two years. That is her business, but her resentment toward us is ongoing. She still is angry at the way we wouldn’t accept him.

How can we all get past this disaster of a relationship and the cracked pieces of our relationship with her? – We Were Right

With this guy, you called it, yes – good eye. But, the ex-boyfriend’s failings and what your daughter is upset about are two different things. When she says, “You should have accepted my choices,” your “But we were right!” response is an emotional non sequitur. She isn’t talking about the guy, she’s talking about herself.

What you owe her, given her current distrust of her instincts, is reinforcement that she doesn’t need Mommy and Daddy to step in if one of those choices goes bad. As she proved with this guy, she’s capable of figuring things out for herself.

She did, after all, realize “the relationship was bad for her” – not only that, but she also got out of it, which is harder than it looks.

Yes, the path she took to enlightenment on this guy was a lot longer than yours, but isn’t that usually the case for the people closest to a situation, most intimately involved? Your being right about the boyfriend was largely a victory of emotional distance; what you need now is a victory of intimacy and humility, by admitting to your daughter how very right she has been to stick up for herself – with the ex-boyfriend and now with you.


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