DEAR AMY: My 18-year-old daughter and I had dinner with another mother and her daughter recently. We’ve known one another since the girls were in kindergarten. The daughters went to different high schools and aren’t terribly close, but we still see them on occasion and consider them friends. The mother and I are closer than the girls are. Both girls are preparing to attend college out of state. Away from the dinner table, in private, the other girl told my daughter that she is on Tinder and “flirts” with an older man. She says the man is 27. She told my daughter that she sends him nude pictures of herself, and he sends her sexually explicit pictures of himself. My daughter is shocked by this. I’m not sure how common this sort of thing is with young women their age. Should I tell my friend what my daughter reported? I would really appreciate your advice.
DEAR WONDERING: If you and this other mother are close friends, you need to approach this by asking yourself if you would want this sort of information about your own daughter. (I would, by the way.)
Both girls are headed to college, where presumably they will each have the freedom to make all sorts of choices — good and bad. As they head out into the world, parents should arm them with as much guidance and wisdom as they can manage.
Your daughter told you this for a reason. You should contact your friend and neutrally report what your daughter told you. Tell her, “I’m telling you this because I would want to know.” Don’t pile on with judgment or any specific reaction, and leave it to this other parent to decide what to do about it, if anything.
The daughters’ friendship, which is not close now, will likely end. I hope that you and this other mother can face this challenge to your own relationship with maturity.
DEAR AMY: I’m a 30-year-old doctor. I’ve been dating a woman for two weeks, though I’ve known her for a couple of months. She is funny, sexy, geeky, artistic, brilliant, and completely unlike other women I’ve dated (other doctors of similar social standing, etc.). She tells me I make her feel safe — significant because she is a rape survivor and is getting treatment for an anxiety disorder (not from me). She makes me want to drink less after a stressful workday. I am going to marry this woman. My question: Is it too soon to propose?
DEAR ALREADY COMMITTED: Yes, it is too soon to propose marriage. You may have already decided that this is your future wife, but given your girlfriend’s substantial challenges in recovery, you should both proceed carefully, tenderly, and enjoy every moment of your courtship.
Your comment about drinking less after a stressful workday implies that your drinking is an issue for you, and that this relationship is something of a lifeboat. I believe that all of us who fall deeply in love find that our love object makes us want to be a better, healthier person. This is a grand opportunity for some deep change in your life, and I hope you will embrace not only this woman, but also the positive changes this relationship inspires.
DEAR AMY: “Invaded” described in-laws who baby-sat for their daughter, but didn’t respect the parents’ parental choices and boundaries. My husbands’ parents were equally oblivious in terms of baby-sitting. We told them “no wheat” (our son has a gluten allergy) and they replied, “That’s a you problem, we’ll feed him what we want,” and that meant junk foods. We told them “no violent computer games” — and they said, “That’s a you problem” — our 6-year-old son came home and told us he played a computer game where he shot women’s heads off! Finally, we told ourselves: “The grandparents are deaf to our requests, so no baby-sitting.” They just don’t get it. Never have, never will.
DEAR RELIEVED: Parents have the right — and the responsibility — to raise their children according to their values and using their best judgment.
People who regularly take care of these children need to work very hard to respect the parents’ judgment and reasonable guidelines.
When it comes to grandparents, I do think there is some room for grands to influence and guide their beloved grandchildren, but they should never do so in a way that undermines the parents.
Your in-laws are now facing the real consequences of repeatedly violating these reasonable guidelines.