I have two wonderful daughters, ages 16 and 18. I raised them as a single mother, and the three of us have always been very close. We enjoy spending time together in our community and on vacations. They are a source of joy to me, and I am very proud of both of them.
The problem is this. My older daughter has a boyfriend. She seems to think about nothing but him and wants to be with him every spare moment. She wants to do things with me and her sister, which means her boyfriend is always with us. Not only that--we have to accommodate his schedule! Don’t get me wrong. I really like him. But I miss having time, just the three of us, and I feel disrespected, as does her sister. How can I make her understand?
Lonely in Boyes
First let me congratulate you on raising your daughters so well as a single parent! The kicker is that when you succeed as a parent, your children grow up and begin to forge their own path. However, she seems to be trying to hold on both to you and move on with her own life, by having her boyfriend join the family. She needs your help! I would start by talking with your daughter. Tell her that you are so glad she has found a decent guy, and let her know that he is welcome to participate in some family events. Then tell her that some activities will continue to be for the three of you alone. Be sure to say that you really hope that she will continue to join in. If, however, she chooses to spend some time separately with her boyfriend, it is age appropriate for her to do that, and, even if it is hard, you will be wise to accept her more independent life. This is one of the difficult moments of parenting, letting go, and one of the most important. Because if you give your blessing to her growing up, she will continue to mature. If she wanders away (and she may not go far), she will be back.
I'm not a cigarette smoker, but I do enjoy the occasional cigar on the patio. Last weekend we had an informal BBQ party, and I fired up a cigar while manning the grill. Afterwards, my wife said it was rude to have subjected the guests to cigar smoke. I say, a patch of private backyard is about the only place to legally smoke anymore, and if self-righteous guests have a problem with the smoke, they can go upwind or go home.
Soon to be Smokeless in Sonoma?
Dear Smokeless (maybe),
Oh, for those old Victorian days, when it was assumed that after dinner the men would retired to the smoking room for a good cigar and brandy. The problem here might be that you didn’t “retire” anywhere, and not with the other like-minded folks, but just lit up in general company. What about establishing a new tradition, when all who are so inclined can join you in a special spot for a smoke? (Although in this day and age I don’t know if you can restrict it to the men.) That way you get to play the gracious host (which we hope will please your wife), and your smoking companions will be pleased, and the non-smokers will not be disturbed in their other pleasures.
My girlfriend’s son is getting married, and her ex-husband and I have a frosty and non-existent relationship. What will be the best way for me to behave at the wedding? We’re going to make a substantial investment to fly to the wedding, and he and I will be enclosed in the same small spaces. Do I stay away from him and not say anything? Do I make small talk? Do I wear a bullet-proof vest?
The “extra” husband
Frosty and nonexistent suggests you don't need a bulletproof vest. If you have reason to believe that violence seethes underneath the frostiness, I recommend you remain at home. The only requirement is that you be cordial (say hello or nod your head--respond if he speaks politely to you). Celebrate the son's happy occasion, and be loving to your girlfriend. (Although if she left him for you, you might hold back a bit and not rub it in his face.) Don't behave badly, keep a low profile, and reminisce about your best golf game ever or the best vacation you’ve ever had with your girlfriend. This too shall pass (the wedding, that is).