Ask Athena: Yours, Mine and Ours

Here’s to re-establishing boundaries, just in time for the Holidays. 

Dear Athena,

My 17 year old daughter Chrissie has been dating our friends’ son, Jack, since they were both 14. Jack is a terrific kid with a great future ahead of him in his dad’s company. He and Chrissie have always planned to attend to Temple together after graduation this June – his dad owns real estate in the area and his office is nearby so they’ll have a place to stay and even part-time jobs if they want them.

Perfect, right? We thought she’d be thrilled when we let it “slip” that Jack’s been kicking around proposal ideas with his parents, but instead she practically accused us of trying to “marry her off” because we don’t trust her to succeed on her own.

This is ridiculous! We never pushed them together. They were little lovebirds until they started making plans after high school. Now, Chrissie barely even talks to us and his parents tell us she’s been really hurtful to Jack. What can we do? We’re worried our daughter is throwing away a future of happiness just to make a point! How can we get through to her?  —   All You Need Is Love

Dear Love,

You owe your daughter an apology.  She is right to feel pushed and devalued. There’s lot to unpack here, let’s take a look.

What were you thinking when you let it “slip” that Jack was considering proposing? How did you expect that to go? Even under the best circumstances, such a move ruins the element of surprise that for many couples is a source of great joy. But there is more.

You say it’s ridiculous to suggest you’re trying to marry her off, but then if she cools it with Jack that’s “throwing away a future of happiness.” Are you even listening to yourself? Your daughter is only 17, even she knows she’s not ready to choose a life partner.

Admit it: you let the secret out because you wanted to help set the stage for him. You want her to say yes. Think about the messages you’re sending: “Jack is the best you’ll ever get”  “It’s not enough to just be you”  “You’re incapable of planning your own life” etc.

You need to back off and let her make her own decisions.  She may be too young to be married but she is old enough to start charting her own course. You have raised her and, I hope, guided her in making good choices. Your job now is to trust and support her, not to run her love life. Maybe Jack is ‘’the one’’ or maybe not. That’s for her to know and you to find out.

Go now and tell your daughter you are sorry for interfering. Let her know all the ways she’s awesome, and encourage her to follow her dreams and goals whatever they may be. Assure her she can have a good future, regardless of her relationship status.

Just a hunch but maybe you can remember instances in your own life when you felt pressured to settle down (or settle for less) due to others’ expectations? If so, sharing them with your daughter could be a bonding and healing experience for both of you. Good luck.

Dear Athena,

My sister is throwing a giant Thanksgiving dinner in her house with family members that I know have not been taking the coronavirus pandemic seriously. I on the other hand have been very careful and don’t want to risk exposure. What should I do?  — Jeff B.

Dear Jeff,

Say no.

Dear Athena,

My friend’s husband accidentally sent me one of “those” pics – I fully believe it was a mistake because he immediately followed up expressing his horror and begging my forgiveness. Should I tell my friend? Maybe he’s cheating and she needs to know.   – Blinded by the Sight

Dear Blinded,

Delete the photo (if you haven’t already) and put it out of your mind. Your friends are adults, for all you know they could have an open relationship. And one photo doesn’t prove anything. If it happens again, though, forward the image to her, cc him and ask them both to tell you when it’s safe to look at your phone again.

Agree or Disagree? Please comment below.
Send your questions to AskAthena@nwlocalpaper.com

Read last month’s Ask Athena here.

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