By Rosalind Wiseman
Q. When it comes to details about her new boyfriend, my 18-year-old daughter has been vague. She says that they have fun together and he's nice, but I found a letter from him talking about marriage plans. Should I just hope this fades away, or say something to her?
A. Definitely say something like, "Will you invite John over for dinner next week?" That way you can put an end to the snooping and get some firsthand insight. It could be that this guy is more serious than your daughter wants to be, but it's taking her some time to realize that and break it off. Or it may be the case that she's developing a pattern of losing herself in the people she dates, knows that you'd have something to say about it and doesn't want to hear it. Your goal is to see for yourself how they interact.
After you've had a chance to meet this young man—and if you're still concerned—privately talk with your daughter (not to her) about their relationship. Don't dismiss her boyfriend or the connection they share. Tell her what you want is for her to have the best relationship possible with this guy. Ask your daughter if she feels comfortable telling this boy what her needs are. She may be very quick to reassure you that things are perfect. Warning: If she does, she's trying to trick either you or herself. Anyone in a serious and healthy relationship knows there are hard times.
Consider sharing a lesson you learned about relationships and what it took to have the lesson sink in. And remember: She's 18. She's at the point in her life when both of you need to respect how the experiences she has now can significantly impact her future