DEAR AMY: My 29-year-old daughter has been seeing her 37-year-old boyfriend (neither has ever been married) for just over one year. They seem to talk as if they are serious, and it sounds like this relationship will eventually lead to marriage. However, there has been no talk of a ring, proposal, etc., on his part. When I ask my daughter about this, she is very clear that I should stay out of their business. It seems these days, girls date for five, 10 years -- one of my daughter's friends is going on 15 years with no plans of marriage! Call us old-fashioned, but why does this "dating" stuff have to go on so long? Both of these people have good-paying jobs and they seem to care very deeply about each other. Let's get this show on the road! How long does this "getting to know each other" thing have to last? Should my husband and I step in and ask this guy what his future intentions are toward our daughter?
DEAR PARENTS: Yes, you should definitely sit this 37-year-old man down and query him about his private life and plans for the future. Perhaps you could also bring along some brochures for engagement rings you would like to see on your daughter's finger. And don't forget to pressure this couple about having grandchildren! Truly, you are meddling and being disrespectful. Given your behavior, you shouldn't be surprised if your daughter never gets married. This sort of pressure will affect her behavior in ways that aren't good for any of you.
Back off. Way off.
DEAR AMY: Eighteen years ago I left my career to stay home. Now, I have two seniors heading to college and too much free time. I am happily married to a man who has a successful business and works from home. I have friends and volunteer, but I'm bored. I don't want to return to work full time because my youngest son is still in school. I spend a lot of time thinking about small businesses I could start or jobs I could apply for, but I can't seem to pick one and get going. How can I decide what to do and actually make it happen?
In the Doldrums
DEAR DOLDRUMS: You don't need to map out the rest of your life right now -- you only need to get unstuck to start this transition into the next phase of your life. Start by applying for part-time jobs -- any part-time job. It might take you a while to get something because you've been out of the workforce.
If it were me, I'd try to work the lunch shift at a busy diner. The tiring workday, responsibilities and glancing interaction with lots of different people from all walks of life could be good for you and might inspire your next phase.
Read, "I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was: How to Discover What You Really Want and How to Get It," by Barbara Sher and Barbara Smith (Dell, 2010). The authors offer thoughtful and practical suggestions for getting unstuck.
DEAR AMY: "Concerned" wrote to you with clear evidence that his/her neighbor was an abusive bully toward his wife and teenage daughter. I was amazed that you did not urge Concerned to call Child Protective Services regarding the abuse of the teenage neighbor. You were only worried about the adult in that case. CPS needs to be called any time there is even suspicion of child abuse, and certainly if there is a direct report from the mother. A CPS intervention might open the door for the primary object of your concern to get help -- in this case, the mother.
DEAR READER: Absolutely. Several readers noted that I neglected to suggest that this neighbor call CPS regarding possible abuse of the teenager in the home. I was focused on the specific question of how to intervene regarding the mother in this family, but I agree with you that this one call could ultimately lead the entire family to get help.