Now is time to openly address inappropriate messaging
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DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I recently found out one of my husband’s married friends has been texting our daughter. She’s 18 and still living at home, and this man is in his 40s. I have to say, my daughter is a beautiful girl and has some womanly curves, but a man of his age should know better! I talked to my husband about it and he said his buddy told him his conversations with our daughter are “totally harmless — just sharing videos and mutual interests.” Yeah, right.
My daughter likes to look sexy, and I’ve seen how this guy looks at her. I told my husband it’s wrong, and it’s dangerous. I’ve been fuming for a week now! Neither my husband, nor my daughter, seems to see the problem. Please help! I feel like I’m losing the battle.
—Trying to do the Right Thing, River Heights
Dear Trying: You know very well a 40-something guy should not be privately messaging your teenage daughter. It’s time for you to act. If something happens, you’ll kick yourself for not addressing the source of the problem — your husband’s buddy — and scaring him off! So, call the guy up and tell him to stop contacting your daughter immediately. Also let him know he’s not welcome in your home anymore, and that you’re contacting his wife next, to let her know he’s been flirting with your daughter.
Your daughter may be angry with you, or she may be relieved. She may be starting to feel there’s something strange about this situation, and be glad her mom has finally given her the protection she needs — and the excuse to cut off her dad’s friend.
It is possible she may be angry about it, but too bad. Sometimes parents have to step in when they sense something bad is happening, and not just look the other way and pretend it’s not occurring.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I just started living with a very stubborn man. He refuses to let me help him do anything — which I kind of admired him for, at first. I’ve since caught him ignoring suggestions I make for activities to do together, how to do something or how to fix a problem in his life. But then he accepts that same suggestion from a friend and tells me about it, like it’s his brainwave!
That makes me feel like he must just shut off when we talk. When I suggest something like a book, movie or a TV show to watch, he just stops listening. He not only refuses my advice, but it seems he forgets I even suggested it! Am I taking this too seriously? I just feel like he doesn’t care what I say. Am I overreacting?
— Frustrated Girlfriend, Wolseley
Dear Frustrated: This behaviour is common in adolescent boys with “helpful” or pushy parents, and it can continue into adulthood. They get to the point where they’re starting to doubt their own ability to think and work out problems, so they “turn off” their ears.
If you were living with a person who was just a roommate, would you be constantly giving free advice? Hopefully, not. So, stop advising your live-in boyfriend. You may push him away over this.
You may also want to get to know his parents better. You’re likely to discover one, or both of them, offer unsolicited opinions and solutions for everything. They may even try to advise and organize you.
A good way to change things with your boyfriend, when there’s an issue or a decision is necessary, is to say casually, “I’m sure you can think of a good way to do this.” If he’s been over-advised or dictated to all his life, he’ll act like you’re speaking a foreign language. Stick to your guns, and say, “OK, tell me when you figure something out.”
His answer the first few times you try this is likely to be his old capitulation: “You decide… whatever.” Your reaction should be, “Nope, let’s do it your way. I’m sure it’ll be a good solution.” You’re giving him back the freedom to think, decide and act, and he will slowly learn to trust that situation. In all likelihood, your love will grow, as he realizes you respect his brain, and you are truly equals.
Please send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or Miss Lonelyhearts c/o the Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6.
Maureen Scurfield writes the Miss Lonelyhearts advice column.