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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Carolyn Hax: Daughter considers military, with boyfriend’s input

Washington Post

Greetings Carolyn: My daughter is considering going into the military. She’s a tough girl and I have confidence she would do well.

Problem is, her boyfriend of two years tells her he is in full support of her but then spends mountains of time trying to convince her to do anything but the military. He has even had his parents talk about the drawbacks.

As a result, my daughter has become insecure and afraid of losing her boyfriend if she were to enter. I just want to strangle him, and his parents, for interfering. I’m so angry I’m at a loss how to handle this without losing my cool. Help! – Anonymous

I guess you’ll learn how strong she really is.

As hard as it is to watch, her boyfriend has every right to lobby against her doing this. Assuming he hasn’t crossed the line into manipulation, his opinion has only the power your daughter agrees to give it.

The most effective way for you to get involved isn’t to apply counteracting pressure. It’s to say explicitly to your daughter what you were trying to say through staying out of it: “This is your decision. We trust you to make it, and we trust if you want our opinion, you’ll ask.”

If she opens the door for you to weigh in on the boyfriend: “He of course doesn’t want you to leave – we’d miss you too, that goes without saying. Ultimately, you have to do what’s right for you. If you don’t feel strongly about the military, then that’s good to figure out now. If the military is something you do believe in, then the people who love you will have to accept you and your service as a package deal.”

Her boyfriend is someone she chose, but you guys were handed to her. How you exercise any influence you have over a grown child has to be respectful of this distinction, lest you overstep.

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