Dear Carolyn: We retired to the D.C. area to be near our daughters and grandchildren. We have enjoyed several week-long family vacations at nearby locations.
This year we are planning a long-weekend vacation at a family-type inn. One of our daughters has a lesbian friend whom she vacationed with last summer and will do so this summer. My other daughter insists that we need to include this friend in our family vacation. Neither my husband nor I feel inclined to do so as we do not enjoy the personality of the friend.
This daughter feels the same, but insists her sister will be upset if her friend is not included. They became acquainted two years ago. They do not live together, but their relationship is exclusive.
Do we have to invite someone for a family vacation whom three of us are uncomfortable with?
The Right Decision?
The Right Decision?: She’s not your daughter’s “lesbian friend,” she’s your daughter’s girlfriend, and, yes, you must include her as you would a girlfriend you liked. Or a boyfriend you didn’t. Your other daughter is right.
You could also exclude the girlfriend as you would anyone your daughter hasn’t fully committed to, but even if that’s your established precedent, expect her to see it for the flimsy excuse it is.
To be clear: As sentient creatures, you always have final say in whom you interact with. Given that you’ve rebuilt your life around your children, though, you need to be mindful not just of what’s right, but also of the price you’d pay with your daughter for not making the noble choice.
Dear Carolyn: I just found out that our 24-year-old daughter married her boyfriend one year ago and did not tell us. She doesn’t know that we know.
She probably didn’t tell us because she knew we would not approve. She works two jobs to support them and he only works part-time.
Please tell me how we should handle this. We are disappointed and in shock.
Anonymous: Your daughter is 24. Your standing to approve or disapprove of her life choices expired when she became an adult.
You’re certainly entitled to your opinions, but you’ve never been entitled to act on them without consequences.
She has told you this herself by cutting you out of her wedding, though I doubt that was the first time she tried to say it.
If you want your daughter back in your life, if you want her trust, if you want her to have the best chance to get or stay on sure footing through life, then make sure this is the time you really listen to what she’s been telling you.
Admit to her you know about the marriage.
Say you get it now — assuming you finally do — that you needed to back off a long time ago.
Explain that you’re sorry for treating her like a child when she clearly no longer is one.
Say you hope you can earn back her trust.
Optional: Ask if you can give them a wedding gift, and if she says yes, then do. I’d say just to give something but gifts can become baggage, especially if they’re perceived to have strings attached.
There’s no guarantee it’ll work, but accepting her is the only path to acceptance for you.