Dear Carolyn: My 30-year-old daughter, who lives in another state, has informed me she and her husband are ready to start a family and have stopped using birth control. However, they both drink socially, sometimes fairly heavily.
My daughter has mentioned that her doctor says light drinking during pregnancy is OK. I expressed my concern, and sent her some information about the effects of alcohol on a fetus at various stages, to which she didn’t respond. And I continue to see postings on Facebook of my daughter enjoying wine, beer, martinis …
What, if anything, is my responsibility here? – A Concerned Mother
Overbearing, check; opinionated, check. Your heart is in the right place but your actions crossed the line.
Voicing your concern was a natural response to a mom-to-be-to-be who posts cocktail selfies. Sending the article, though, was the shot across the bow by someone who’d rather indulge her own fears than respect a boundary. Trying to assert control is not the answer. Your responsibilities are limited to assessing what you actually know (versus fear, suspect, see on Facebook … ); weighing the potential benefit of action versus the risk either of inaction or of offending; and understanding that your reach into the life of another adult is at her pleasure.
Since you’ve said (and sent) your piece, please consider your to-do list exhausted. Now your focus needs to shift to being the person she can trust not to get into her business. Counterintuitive, yes, but it will position you to be much more influential than if you keep trying to influence her.
It often helps in these situations to have self-calming techniques ready. In this case, I suggest making a conscious decision to trust the daughter you raised, the one who used birth control right up to the point when she and her husband decided they were ready for children, and who is talking to a doctor about what is and isn’t OK for pregnancy.