Q: Our daughter is married to a good, kind, giving man. We love them both very much, but most of the time my daughter is disrespectful and mean to her husband. He's passive and just takes it from her. This upsets our entire family and I'm inclined to speak with my daughter about it. Do you think I should?
Jim: This is a judgment call that requires careful thought and perhaps some outside counsel. In considering your response, it's important to recognize that as an adult your daughter is your peer rather than your "child." I'd also suggest you try to look at her and her husband as if they weren't related to you. By adopting this perspective, you'll be less likely to inappropriately inject yourself into their relationship.
If the quality of your relationship with your daughter is such that you think she'd be open to hearing your concerns, talk to her about your feelings. Again, it's critical that you approach the conversation as a caring friend and not a condemning parent. If your daughter responds positively, you can discuss the problem further and offer ways you might be of encouragement and help.
If, however, she proves resistant to your concerns, I'd recommend you ease off. In many cases, a trusted third party to whom your daughter might be more inclined to listen may prove to be a more effective means of intervening.
Meanwhile, if your daughter's behavior makes everyone uncomfortable, you can remedy the situation by adopting a "my house, my rules" approach. You can't dictate how she should talk to her husband. But you can say, "At my house we have a rule that everybody is to be treated with respect." If your daughter refuses to comply, stop inviting her to family gatherings.
Our staff of licensed counselors would be pleased to help you navigate this sensitive situation. Don't hesitate to call them at (800) A-FAMILY.
Q: Is my 5-year-old son overly attached to his mother? Some days it's almost impossible to separate him from her. He insists that she sit in the back seat of the car with him. Only Mom can clean him up when he makes a mess, and only Mom is allowed to read him a bedtime story. I'm beginning to wonder if he'll ever outgrow this phase.
Danny Huerta, Executive Director, Parenting: It's important to understand that your son isn't rejecting you. For now, he simply feels more secure with his mom. It's likely he'll outgrow this phase in time if you respond with love, patience and persistence. There are, however, some things you can do that may help the process along.
First, make sure you and your wife are on the same page. Express your concerns openly, and if she agrees that there may be a potential problem, enlist her help in finding more opportunities for you to bond with your son.
You'll want to begin taking an active role in helping your son with his personal needs. Don't give him the option of having Mom do it. Just make it clear -- kindly and gently -- that Dad is going to do the bathing or reading tonight. If his reaction is severe, have your wife sit nearby so her presence reassures him. Transitional measures like this are fine as long as he understands that you are in the picture and involved.
You'll also want to schedule plenty of "Dad time" together. Initiate and engage in new and fun activities that match his interests and personality. This will help him feel known and secure.
If the problem persists, or if your wife is resistant to you taking a more involved role with your son, please give our licensed counselors a call at (800) A-FAMILY.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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