Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Father Can’t Control Daughter’s Life

DEAR NATALIE: I'm having a hard time letting go of my daughter. She is in her early 20s, a very good kid, but I really don't like her boyfriend. We are an affluent family, and her boyfriend (they met at the university they were attending) takes advantage of her. I don't like that he stays overnight in the apartment that I bought her. I don't like that he doesn't really have much direction or a clear idea of what he will do for a career. I have gotten into discussions about this with my wife, who basically told me to stay out of it. But I think my daughter should be looking for a husband who can take care of her, keep her in the lifestyle she is used to and not be a leech. My wife says she has to figure this out on her own. Who's right? If I tell her he can't come to the apartment, my wife is worried that will drive a wedge between us. I love her, but I'm not happy with the choices she is making in terms of dating. Any advice? -- Mad Dad

DEAR MAD DAD: Growing up is hard to do -- especially for parents. While I understand that your intentions are well meaning, your daughter is not property. You chose to buy her an apartment, which was incredibly generous of you, but that doesn't give you the right to dictate her life from here on out. The idea that you want her to find a man who will take care of her is antiquated. Instead, why not encourage her to travel, help foster her independence, help her to take on new opportunities in her area of interests as opposed to encouraging her to husband hunt? Most likely this relationship is her first serious one, and the more you push her to dump him, the more she will cling to him. You won't win this one, dad. So, follow your wife's advice and back off. Most likely, she will figure things out on her own (because you raised her to have a mind of her own) and will be dating someone else that you won't like before you know it! 

Please send your relationship and lifestyle questions to nbencivenga@post-gazette.com or tweet them to @NBSeen. You can also send postal letters to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)