He Said, She Said: Parents struggle with future son-in-law’s age Print E-mail
Tuesday, 22 November 2016
By Shaun and Pamela Collins
Special to GUIDON
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My daughter has been out of state going to school for her master’s degree. She just turned 24 this year and announced that she had met her soul mate and was bringing him home…which she did. The guy is actually older than me! I turned 50 in January and her “soul mate” is 59.

I didn’t know how to react. At first, I thought it was just a phase, but when my daughter flashed a diamond, her mother all but fainted. Then we found out he has been married not once, not twice, not three times, but four other times.
I tried to be open and listen to my daughter in hopes she would listen to her parent’s concerns. She would have nothing to do with discussion. She is in “love” and he is the “perfect man.” He actually has three kids that are older than my daughter! I have always felt that kids have to learn from some of their own mistakes, but I know this one will not end well for my daughter. Not sure even what to do…or if I should do anything.

My daughter is back at school, but planning that big wedding for June. Advice? She’s a smart girl, but she sure can’t see the forest for all the trees today.

HE SAID: I know we all think we know what is best for our children and we want to keep them from making mistakes regardless of age. Granted, in many cases we are right; however, when your child reaches the age of maturity, parents transition from people of authority to people of influence.  

If you try to intercede, you will force her to make a decision and either way your relationship will suffer. If she chooses him and you “put your foot down” you will likely have limited contact with your daughter going forward. All you can really do is ask her about it, see what it is about him and their future together that she loves so much.  

If she tells you it is none of your business, she is right and you need to let her know that you just want to make sure she understands that when she is 35, he will be 70 and that if they have kids, 70 year olds cannot toss a ball around — but if she is happy, you need to love and support her regardless of her decisions.

If you try to impose your opinions on her, you will merely push her the rest of the way out of the nest and you may never have a strong healthy relationship with her again. I know it can be difficult to watch your adult children make what you think are mistakes (our kids range from 21 to 26), but if you think you have control over her at this age, you are the one who needs the reality check. I feel for you, but you need to be a loving parent and a safe person to talk to. You aren’t in charge anymore. I wish you both the best.

SHE SAID:  One of the toughest things we do as parents is nothing.

 Your daughter is an adult, and if you raised her well, you have to trust that she will eventually made solid decisions. You must also realize the more you push her, the more likely she is to push in the opposite direction.  

Be available and try not to judge. If she believes you think she’s making a huge mistake, she will hesitate to come to you when the wheels fall off, thinking you will simply tell her, “I told you so.” You must be sure she knows that, no matter what, you love her and support her decisions. For all you know, this may be the love of her life. Whether he is or not, your daughter needs to have her own experiences to grow and learn. You can give her advice when she asks, but you cannot control her decisions. You need to be a loving parent and a safe person to talk to; you aren’t in charge anymore. I wish you both the best.

 (Editor’s note: Shaun and Pamela Collins were both career Soldiers with a combined history of military service spanning over a half of a century. They have been where you are, so if you are facing a difficult situation, ask them. Send your question to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it This column and other original content from Mr. and Mrs. Collins can be found at http://militarysuccessnetwork.com. The opinions expressed are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office or the GUIDON.)
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 07 December 2016 )