DEAR AMY: Our daughter is in her mid-20s. She is a college grad with a good job. She met a young man and started dating him. Young Man showed some controlling tendencies. He is a hothead with anger issues. Things were fine until Young Man punched in our daughter’s windshield in a jealous rage. My husband and I expressed concern, saying that this often leads to further violence. Our daughter broke up with him and moved into the city with her college roommate. Time passed and now she is back living at home to save money. She has reconciled with him, saying she has so much fun with him. I again stated my concerns about violence, but reassured her that we love her unconditionally. I know she is old enough to make her own choices. Should we welcome him back with open arms, knowing we have reservations? I know the answer is not to alienate our daughter, but my concern is with her safety.
DEAR CONCERNED: I would not welcome this man into the fold with “open arms,” but more with a resigned awareness that you can’t choose your daughter’s friends for her.
Don’t take her temperature every day about this, but maintain an open atmosphere where she can talk to you if she needs to.
If you become aware of ANY violence, you should not pussyfoot around with this couple, letting him explain away his behavior. You should call the police (and tell your daughter to always call the police if there is any violence). If you had gotten the police involved with the previous incident, things might (possibly) be different now.
DEAR AMY: I am at a loss over what to do with my mother and her relationship with my kids. Mom and I have always had a strained relationship, but we have both always tried hard. I am now a mom to a tween and a preschooler, and I want my kids to have a healthy relationship with their grandma, even if ours is not so great. The problem arises when my mother is angry with me — whether from an instance happening at that moment or in the past — she demeans me and my parenting to my kids, the older one in particular. Raising kids is hard enough to do without having your children lose respect for you. I’ve told my mom to cut it out, and she agrees, only to do it again and again. I’ve not been letting my kids spend time with her because of this, but I don’t want them to be punished. I don’t want to punish my mother either. I just can’t trust her to not betray her word and try to manipulate me through my kids. Is there any way my kids can have a good grandma in their lives?
A Mother First
DEAR MOTHER: The only way for your kids to have a good grandma in their lives would be to have a different grandma.
They — and you — are stuck with this one.
You alone can judge the true toxicity of these comments and the effect on your children. If your mother is in the “grouchy complainer” category, this might be tolerable. As the kids grow older, they will understand that this is just the way she is.
If your mother is deceitful, manipulative, poisonous and a vicious gossip, then yes, this can undermine your own relationship with your children, as well as cause them genuine emotional harm.
Be open with your oldest. Ask her how she feels when her grandmother does this.
She may have to train herself to say, “Grandma, I don’t want you to talk about mom,” and repeat this often.
And yes, if your mother can’t respect your reasonable request, then you should limit visits to times when you will also be present.
DEAR AMY: I caught your answer to the childish man who was humiliated when he was beat by a woman in a chess game (“Totally Embarrassed in Defeat”), but you declined to address what a total baby he was!
DEAR PLAYER: “Totally Embarrassed” seemed to view his chess game as a battle of the sexes. I agree that he was a sore loser.