I normally half-heartedly nod at the responses or don't feel much connection to the questions, but this week's got me kind of riled up.
A woman writes in because her 19-year-old daughter, who she describes as "one of the most responsible teens" she knows, has chosen to get on birth control pills because she's sexually active and in a committed relationship. Her mother says that she "helped her start birth control" (not really explaining what that means--I guess taking her to the doctor's appointment? maybe just having a conversation with her about it?) and then her husband found her daughter's pills and threw a fit. When the mother, trying to help her daughter, says that she helped her get on the pills, the father became enraged at both of them and now isn't speaking to either of them.
The Good Enough Guy's advice is a little unhinged to me. He starts by saying that he completely understands why the husband is upset and even that he is mad himself just reading it. His reasoning is that the mother somehow made this big decision about their parenting without his input.
This woman is nineteen years old! It's not as if the mother took their twelve-year-old to get on the Pill without letting her father in on that decision. This woman made the decision to get on birth control herself and just so happened to tell her mother about it. It's her decision to get on the Pill, and it's her decision to tell or not tell whoever she wants about that act.
Truly, the Good Enough Guy's advice shocks me.
He says that "Making this kind of decision without your husband's input was wrong." But the mother didn't make a decision; she simply helped her daughter carry out her own decision.
The part that really gets me, though, is the final step of his advice: the resolution.
I suggest you, your husband, your daughter and maybe even the boyfriend, sit down together, put everything on the table including the pills, and have that long, uncomfortable, conversation that your husband should have been a part of. If your husband is opposed to her being on birth control, then it may benefit her to hear why he thinks so. If she’s old enough to do the, “no-pants dance”, then she’s old enough to have an adult discussion on the subject. As I said: dads were boys once, and hearing some of those stories from him might open her eyes to a few things.What?!
Did I really, really miss a parenting memo? Is it my job to follow my daughter into adulthood and force her to "put everything on the table" about every life decision she makes? Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought my job as a parent was to give her the guidance and skills she needs growing up that she is capable of making intelligent, responsible decisions as an adult. Furthermore, it sounds like that's exactly what this young woman did: she's in a committed adult relationship and she's having sex, so she wants to (responsibly) be on birth control. This is a testament that the parenting she received as a child enabled her to be a clear-thinking adult, not a sign that someone needs to put in some overtime on the parenting front.
Look, I'm not saying that I expect to cut my daughter off from parental wisdom on her eighteenth birthday. I very much hope that her father and I will both be people she respects and consciously calls upon for advice, help, and support. But I also know that we can't be those people if we don't know when to stop trying to control her life. If I expect respect from her, then I have to give it in return, and respecting an adult means not treating her like a child.
What do you think? Parents of adults, what does your parenting look like into adulthood? Parents of minors, how do you envision the stages of your parenting? Everyone, how would you have responded to this kind of parental control exerted over your adult decisions? When did you/do you stop expecting your parents to intervene?