Cool! Somebody remembered my advice column!
I got this email the other day:
Our daughter is in love. We don't feel good about the guy she wants to marry, but the more we try to advise her, the more she seems to defy us. Should we just stand by while she makes a big mistake? Did you ever have this problem?From,
I didn't have this problem; I was this problem!
Last year I wrote a series of blogs about my own experience with love at first sight. (I was just nineteen and my parents were not at all happy about it.) This old post might be a response to Worried Mom:
Losing Control, 1969
After That Tuesday Dee and I both sent letters home describing each other and how we had fallen in love. I was sure my parents would be thrilled that I had found my soul mate. I was very mistaken.
The first letters back arrived March 13th. My dad was extremely upset. He listed every stupid thing I'd ever done, and told me I was incapable of making a decision as important as this one at such a young age. I was crazy to think I knew what love was, and naive and inexperienced to think Dee really loved me. He wanted me to come home.
I was devastated!
My mother's letter was a little softer in tone. She thought I was dazzled by my surroundings, unable to think straight, and I didn't know enough about this boy to make any commitments. She felt it just wouldn't work out in the real world.
Their lack of trust undermined my relationship with them at a very crucial time in my life.
They put me in a position where I had to make a choice: Them, or Dee. I loved my parents, and had always felt close to them, so it was heartbreaking to me. I chose Dee.
Eventually it worked out, but there was a lot of damage done. Dee was fully aware of their pre-judgments and reservations about him. It was not a good way to start a friendship.
I was the oldest, and it was the first time my folks had lost complete control of a child; they didn't like it. I wanted approval and respect, but I didn't feel any. It had a negative impact on me. I felt guilty that I had to make my parents unhappy to choose what would make me happy.
In March, 1970, before we had kids, I wrote this Mission Statement in my journal. I don't know how well we've followed it, but I still think it's sound.
I feel each child should be encouraged and expected to do their best, and then allowed to do it, without criticism, either expressed or implied.
I hope to build my children's self worth by allowing them to be self-sufficient and independent in carrying out assignments and responsibilities. It would rob them of satisfaction if I re-did things or implied that I could have done it better myself.
When they make poor choices, they will learn to accept the consequences, and know they are loved and accepted in spite of their mistakes.
Each child will have gifts and talents, and they will be better able to recognize them than we will be. We need to trust them to receive their own inspiration.
Our children will not be OURS. They will have their own lives and their own mission and purpose, just as we have ours. We will try not to impose our unmet goals on them. They will each be unique individuals. We have no right to take that away from them.
(See how important it is to blog? How would I remember all this if I hadn't written it down? Letters, journals, blogs, advice columns...whatever, record your thoughts!)
Parenting is a lot easier before you're a parent. But it's valuable to back away and remember what we felt, and what we were actually capable of doing when we were young.
So, back to Worried Mom. I think she should trust herself. She's already taught her daughter skills to make choices about her life. And what adult child actually takes their parent's unsolicited advice anyway? If she marries the guy, she'll need her mom's support. If it's a mistake, she'll need to know she still has her mom's support.
I took the easier road. I just fell in love with my in-law kids at the same time my kids did!
(There are some comments from the first time I posted parts of this blog last year. I don't know how to take them off. But you're welcome to comment again!)