On Her Own

5 Aug

Dear LetterBalm: Recently, my husband and I drove in to Boston, around two-and-a-half hours from our home, to spend a Saturday with our 24-year-old daughter who lives and works there. She invited us for the day, took us on a tour of her office, introduced us to two of her friends and treated us to dinner at a very nice restaurant, which was more expensive than we’re used to. My husband was very uncomfortable with the idea of her spending so much money. He made an issue of the cost at dinner and tried to pay our share. Our daughter had to insist that she was paying, and things got a bit testy. I felt bad and tried to smooth things over, thanking her profusely. My husband has brought up the meal several times since then. How can I calm him down?

–Lobster and Steak, Oh, My  

This is less about the cost of the grub and more about the fact that your child is not money-grubbing. She saw your visit as an opportunity to do something nice for her parents and proudly show them their daughter is doing fine as an independent young woman. Ms. L.B. senses your husband’s continuing concern isn’t about the cost of the dinner; it’s about the fact that his little girl is all grown up, on her own and out of his control. Diplomacy and kindness are called for. Cook his favorite dinner and in a quiet, private moment, tell him this and give him a big hug:

Darling, you’ve been anxious since our visit with Trisha. I understand that you feel a bit sad that she’s all grown up and out of the house. But you should be proud of her. We’ve done a great job with her, and she’s doing really well. If she wants to treat us for a fancy dinner, let her. It gives her a chance to show us how independent she is and how much she loves us. I realize this is hard for you. Trisha will always be your little girl, and it will take time for you to see that she’s grown beautifully into her new life as a young woman.


2 Responses to “On Her Own”

  1. Jeff 08/05/2014 at 8:35 pm #

    I lived this same experience with my mother and step dad when the visited me in NYC from small town MN. We got Into an argument as dad thought he’d order a baked potato to accompany his dinner which they accepted I was buying. The couldn’t see past the $4 bake potato and refused to order it. So I do understand this, and years later realized I also had to learn they were depression survivors who would never get past some expenses. Loved your answer and great advice.

    • Ms. L.B. 08/06/2014 at 3:33 am #

      What a warm anecdote. Every parent deals with the emerging independence of a child differently, and the parent’s life experience certainly can color his or her reaction. Thank you for your kind words!

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