DEAR ABBY: You got it all wrong with "Dismayed in Roswell, Ga." (April 8), who complained that his daughter's fiance didn't ask his blessing before proposing. I'm the mother of two high-school-age daughters, and it would signal a rupture in our relationship if my husband and I were not included in the process.
You made it sound like this self-supporting daughter has no obligation to help her father and fiance begin their own relationship as in-laws. This is a perfect time for this "grown" young woman to establish a mutually respectful adult/parent connection. Advising Dad that the "gesture was unwelcome" is advising him to swallow all efforts to communicate and connect with his daughter and her fiance, when he clearly wants to be included.
I'm also unimpressed with a young man who would make no effort to ingratiate himself to his future children's grandfather. Marriages in our society are struggling to survive precisely because young people like those place no importance on building a support system. We need our parents and others to help us through the tough challenges. As a divorced father, "Dismayed" deserves every opportunity before the wedding to help his daughter get it right the first time. -- JAN IN ST. PAUL
DEAR JAN: Your opinion was shared by some -- but certainly not all -- of those who wrote to comment. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: The custom of asking a father for permission to marry his daughter is outdated and for good reason. It's not so much a gesture of respect as a symbolic gesture that indicates the woman is a piece of property being "purchased" from the previous owner (the father) by a prospective new owner (husband-to-be).
The daughter in that letter, "Amanda," is one of many women today who regard the practice as disrespectful to women, not respectful to loving fathers. Dad's comment about "who wears the pants" in the family shows he feels Amanda should be unequal and subservient to her new "owner." She wants no part of this custom, not because her fiance "doesn't pass muster," but because she lucked out and found a man who, unlike her dad, views her as an equal in their relationship and, therefore, is as offended as she is by this outdated practice. -- OUTRAGED IN BELLEVUE, WASH.
DEAR ABBY: "Dismayed" said that his 24-year-old daughter was "out on her own, leading a productive life." Why should he feel that her hand was his to give?
When I became engaged after living independently for a number of years, I made it clear to my fiance that I would be insulted if he asked my father for permission to marry me. Saying that it's a sign of respect to Dad is missing the point that treating a woman as a free and independent person is a sign of respect to HER. -- DIANE IN OAKDALE, CALIF.
DEAR ABBY: Men should ask the fathers of their brides-to-be for permission! It gives the dads the opportunity to really talk to the men about their intentions and goals. I am 23 and many of my friends are getting married. Each of their fiances has asked their father. And I would not accept a ring unless my beloved had asked mine. -- MEAGHAN IN NEW YORK