DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: My daughter has been with her boyfriend for nearly five years now. He is a good guy overall, but he can be so defensive on her behalf to the point that if I am talking with my daughter, and she gets upset about something, like some sad or bad news from our neighborhood or her old job, where I still know some people and hear some things sometimes, he starts leaving me voicemails and texts about why do I like to upset my daughter so much.
Clearly he loves her and is doing what he thinks is in her best interest. I always figure it was because he is the oldest in a large family, and his mother often put him in charge of the younger siblings to help her out. That is, I believe, where his loving, but overly protective ways come from.
How do I get it across to him that I honestly do not go out of my way to upset my own daughter, and that like him, I have her best interest in mind all the time? --- TOO MUCH ON GUARD
DEAR TOO MUCH ON GUARD: I think you may be right in believing your daughter’s boyfriend’s protective nature was formed, or at least fostered, by his early life’s experiences in caregiving. It’s most likely part of his definition of love, this need to protect and defend those close to him.
Simply by continuing to gently remind him that you also love and care about your daughter, you might be able to make your case that you’re on the same team, just playing different positions.
If she doesn’t already, perhaps it would help if your daughter backed you up in your claims of intending, and in fact inflicting, no harm. Like you, she may not be a fan of the tension her boyfriend possibly creates for himself in his perceived need to shelter her from unpleasant or painful news.