Take a fresh look at your lifestyle.

- Advertisement -

Advice | Carolyn Hax: Parents see alcoholic boyfriend as a ‘burden’ for daughter

Dear Caroline: My husband and I are about to spend a week with our daughter and her boyfriend. They live together for about three years. The boyfriend had a bad year: he had a good but demanding job, and was then apparently diagnosed with anxiety. He quit his job and the fear turned into alcoholism. He recently stopped detoxing and rehab, but he’s not working and now wants to start over in a new city.

We like him. And we support him in his struggle. But there is no marriage, no children, no home, and we are old enough to know and worry about the progress of the recovery. Namely two or three relapses before it sticks and a lot of human wreckage. I don’t want my kid to be part of the wreckage. As far as I know, everyone – his family, his friends, his colleagues, us – has been understanding.

I don’t want to screw this up, and from everything I’ve read, my only option is sympathy and support. Ugh. I am annoyed by the burden this has placed on my daughter.

And yes, many people have gotten clean and stayed clean. But does the partner always look over his or her shoulder?

So how do I go about this? I’m not judging him, but I don’t want to upset him.

Anonymously: Yes, ugh on sympathy and support!!! Where’s a good shaming when you need one.

Alcoholism and anxiety are important, complex problems that require ongoing care, yes. No argument there. Recovery usually involves a relapse, yes. And your daughter would have fewer obstacles to leaving if she ended the relationship now, most likely.

But don’t confuse your legitimate concerns about the possibility that his alcoholism could negatively affect your daughter with any license or duty to punish him for it. You’re not the law here – you’re not the putter-on or letter-off of hooks.

Your role is to trust your daughter to live her own life to her own satisfaction.

Since it’s a life we’re talking about here, the way she manages it will involve mistakes. Some of it is huge, perhaps with at least a temporary price to her (and even your) quality of life.

That’s why adult members of moderately functional families also tend to share the roles of each other’s backups and safety nets—when needed or requested. The help also does not only come from parent to child, but among all competent adults, because life can happen to anyone with problems that you did not expect.

So it’s important to separate the best for your child from the best for your child literal. If this is a decent man who treats her well and has the strength to face his own [stuff]then their life can be a full and wonderful life.

For again, all lives involve hardships.

Such as: watching your child struggle, or having to manage your worries about her so that you don’t exert an undue and useless influence on her as she takes on one of the toughest challenges she will ever face.

Presumably you expect to arrange this without your parents intervening.

You may not want your daughter to stay in this relationship – again, valid. But she’ll make that decision without you, and if she chooses to stay, pursed lips or hooked him would be tantamount to putting obstacles in his path. Redundant. I don’t understand how that helps your child.

If your agitation is just a thwarted impulse to to do something here – it’s hard to let go, this parenting – try Al-Anon. Learn how not to be an obstacle to someone’s recovery, or to an adult child’s agency, or to your own emotional independence.

Or, in the spirit of one day at a time, learn how to be the warmest, least intrusive guest you can be. If they’re getting married, I think it’s safe to say that your kindness and support during your visit won’t have been the reason.

Dear Caroline: I’m tired of young couples using retired mothers as unpaid childcare so they can live a good life while complaining about them. These women have been providing childcare to a member of these couples for at least 18 years, so I assume any interpersonal issues have been around for a long time and were initially ignored in favor of free childcare.

If the troubles get annoying, I say it’s time to grow up and make sacrifices to pay for childcare for your own children, instead of treating your mothers like paid help who needs an attitude adjustment.

Tired: I’m tired of people blaming others for their own inability to say no.

Yes. That’s all I have.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.