DEAR AMY: My 24-year-
old college graduate daughter has been dating a young man, “Reggie,” for three years. He is still finding his way, as are most millennials at that age.
He is starting graduate school in the fall to get a master of fine arts, hoping to be a writer, but he is willing to teach until he achieves writing success. They are talking about marriage, which bothers my wife immensely because she sees Reggie as lazy, directionless and not good enough for her only daughter.
I try to be a peacemaker, trying to point out his good qualities to her while trying to advise him and my daughter on how to prove the wife wrong by demonstrating these qualities.
This constantly puts me between my wife and my daughter. I imagine group counseling is needed, but they’ll be living a 10-hour drive away, so that won’t happen. Should I suggest counseling to my wife so she can learn to accept Reggie for who he is?
How can I help calm the family strife? — Caught in the Middle, Colorado
DEAR CAUGHT: Based on your narrative, “Reggie” is guilty of the following: Being accepted into a (presumably competitive) MFA program with a plan to teach to support himself; having the ambition to become a writer (oh, the horror); and loving your daughter enough to consider marriage.
If she loves this young man and they have a balanced relationship, then I suggest that your wife is the only one who needs an attitude adjustment: If she doesn’t like this guy, then she doesn’t have to marry him. You need to step out of the middle and say to her, “I trust our daughter’s judgment and will embrace the person she chooses. Beyond that, I am not going to mediate between you. If you can’t learn to tolerate him and they do get married, then you are going to be very lonely.”
Cease all mediating. The other players in this drama need to do this work on their own.
DEAR AMY: My son is 20 and home from college for the summer. He is very well-liked, and is pretty responsible for his age. My husband and I have always been open about talking about the dangers of drugs, and he seemed to get it. He says we don’t have to worry and that he makes good choices.
Because we share some features on our computers, I now see all of his text messages. I feel guilty looking, but because of it I know he is smoking pot and drinking socially. I asked him if he smokes pot. His response was “once in a while.”
I know it’s more than that. I fear he may work up to other things. Do I tell him about my computer access so we can really talk, or just keep an eye on it to see if he does something worse? — Know Too Much in N.J.
DEAR KNOW TOO MUCH: Talk to your son. There is no reason to tiptoe around your very real concerns about what he is doing. Waiting until your spying yields something potentially more serious than you can handle is counterintuitive. Your role as parents is to be brave enough to deal with things as they happen. You should urge your son to make healthy choices, and let him face real consequences when he doesn’t.
DEAR AMY: I’m responding to the letter from “Unsigned,” the inmate who wanted to marry his distant cousin. While I agree the woman should think twice about getting involved with a repeat offender, I wanted to back your conclusion that there’s no danger of marrying someone distantly related.
While researching potential ancestral names for our first child, my wife and I found out that we are fifth cousins once removed. I was a little freaked out at first, but once I had someone walk me through the statistics of how far apart our DNA was, I was OK with it.
Seventeen years and three healthy boys later, we can look back on it and laugh! — Happy in Idaho
DEAR HAPPY: Marrying a distant cousin is extremely common in other cultures. There is no health risk, as you’ve learned.