DEAR AMY: My 25-year-old, self-sufficient son has met and decided to marry a 21-year-old young lady from the Philippines who is in this country on a work visa. She must return to her country in October. He has known this person for less than three months. As with many modern young people, he met her via a website, and he has fallen for her hook, line and sinker. I fear that he is rushing into this decision to expedite her ability to return to the States and become a U.S. citizen, and to save the relationship. In my opinion, distance does not make the heart grow fonder. Distance creates relationship difficulty. I worry that the young woman is just using him to get out of an impoverished life in her country. I understand these motivations. They might actually be in love, but they are rushing into this. Women are his Achilles heel. He feels incomplete without the affirmation/affection of a woman. As his father, what should I do? Should I be supportive? Or should I distance myself from the situation? Neither choice feels right. Do you have any advice?
DEAR FATHER: What were you doing at the age of 25?
Twenty-five-year-olds serve in the military, fight wildfires, start companies, run for office, choose their own romantic partners and become parents.
And yes, 25-year-olds also sometimes make boneheaded choices.
“Parenting” someone this age can be an exercise in frustration, as you struggle to detach from someone you have watched (and worried over) since birth.
Now, in adulthood, your son’s life choices have accelerated past your ability to understand and control them. And yet, his choices actually have nothing to do with you. You don’t need to necessarily celebrate or enable his decisions. Nor do you need to weigh in with your adult knowledge or instinct of how foolhardy this particular choice might be.
The beauty here is that you are off the hook regarding your son.
And, yes, you should be supportive — or at the very least, neutral — regarding your son’s partner.
Is she taking advantage of him? Is he taking advantage of her? Stay tuned! But for now, what a relief — because you don’t have to know.
DEAR AMY: I’m a 20-year-old student. I am very concerned for my mother. I have a 34-year-old half-sister who is constantly dragging our mom into her destructive, abusive on-and-off relationship. Sadly, there are also children involved. My sister leaves the children with my mom for the summer and during weekends throughout the year. The children are under 10 years old, so this is a lot of work for my mom, who has just been diagnosed with diabetes. My mom is constantly stressed about the next big drama going on in my sister’s life. Recently there was a situation with my sister, and my mom told me how stressed she was and how she feels like she is going to collapse. How can I help? I think my mom needs to set up boundaries, but when I confront her, she always ends up defending my sister. My mom doesn’t seem to take time for herself or put her health first.
DEAR DAUGHTER: You should do what you can to assist your mother — while carefully guarding your own boundaries. From your description, your mother and your sister are locked into an unhealthy relationship. But also understand that because there are young children involved, your mother may feel both taken advantage of, and duty-bound, as she tries to help.
You should write to your mom, telling her your own truth — that you are very concerned about her illness and the impact of stress on her health. Tell her that you love her and that you worry about her. Ask her to pull back and to protect herself.
Your job is to continue your education and to build a good life for yourself. You can’t be helpful to others if you also get pulled under.
DEAR AMY: I’m responding to the letter from “Upset,” the stepfather whose felon stepson had become religious, and wanted to move in with the parents. As a former law enforcement worker/counselor, many drug-using felons “find” religion in prison. Why, I can’t say — perhaps they see it as a form of salvation — but it rarely sticks. Your advice was totally correct. The mother needs to get help to stop enabling. This is paramount.
DEAR JMC: Thank you.