Question: Dear Luise, I have a 22 year-old daughter who is a senior in college, has a great job, and has a live-in boyfriend in her own home. When she was 13 she was raped which led to her father giving up all biological rights, and we haven’t talked to him since. She is still in counseling and sees a psychiatrist and is on medication since then. She has never been friendly with a lot of girls due to the fact that she feels they are mean and hateful (which we all know teenage girls are mean anyway). She has always been a “loner” and had only a few good girl friends that she went through high school with. She’s kept them over the years. She is an only child, and has always been very good-hearted and avoids confrontation at any cost (actually wanting to quit a job to avoid it). I have always wanted to “fix” anything that goes wrong because it has been so hard to see her go through everything in such pain, and my husband tells me to stay out of her problems, which I know is right. Recently she had a big fall-out with an old friend, and kept telling me about it and asking me what to do, and I ended up asking the friend about it and now they’ve decided to not be friends anymore. The “break-up” was not because of what I did. I know I was wrong though and I need some advice on how to let her know she needs to talk to someone other than me and to quit asking me what to do every time something goes wrong with friends or the boyfriend. I know it should be as simple as just saying “quit talking to me about it” or “talk to your other friends about it,” but I’ve tried that and it doesn’t work. Please help. Thanks. L.
Answer: Dear L.: I think I would start treating it as a “required course” in the school of life, since school is where your daughter’s focus is. Let her know that you don’t know the answers; you just guess based on life experience and sometimes you’re right.
Tell her you are going, as of now, to treat each dilemma that she presents to you as an assignment back to her. You will both write down the issue and then it’s her job to come up with and try solutions. She can report back to you as she processes it but YOU CAN’T COME UP WITH ANY INPUT. (Picture yourself as the professor and she’s taking a test.) All you can offer is encouragement. When it is over you will both review the lessons learned (or not.)
Let her know that the day will come when she won’t have you as a sounding board (hopefully a long, long way off) and she will be glad when the time comes that she took this course and passed with flying colors.
Then stand firm…you are the professor. If she doesn’t pass, she has to take it over. Blessings, Luise