She is going to be leaving for college next year, and I think this is just fun while it lasts since her boyfriend dumped her. I really want her to tell the guy she thinks is a “redneck” that she doesn’t see it going further than a friendship so he can move on and find someone who wants to be with him. He is so kind to her! He would actually be perfect for my older daughter and closer in age. My older daughter is not dating anyone and finds it hard to meet guys as she doesn’t party much and works and goes to school. I really think they might hit it off, but I know my older daughter would be worried he wouldn’t be interested because she isn’t the skinny little thing her sister is. My younger daughter doesn’t seem to care about leading someone on or care about someone’s feelings…except her own!
What do I do? Can I suggest she tell the “redneck” she just wants to be friends and suggest he meet her sister? — Concerned Mother of Two Daughters
What can you do? You can mind your business! Unless either of your daughters is asking you explicitly for relationship advice, you shouldn’t be offering any, and you sure as shit shouldn’t be trying to play matchmaker with one daughter and a guy who is into your other daughter. That’s a recipe for disaster! Seriously, you’re playing with fire here. The loathing you seem to feel for your “skinny little thing” younger daughter who “loves the attention” and “doesn’t care about someone’s feelings” is so evident throughout your letter that I have to assume it’s probably obvious in person, too. And your feelings of pity for both the “redneck” who is being led on by your seductress daughter who has the gall to text a boy she isn’t interested in dating, and your concern for your shyer older daughter who doesn’t meet as many guys because she doesn’t party like her wild-child sister is just… it’s a bit much.
Your daughters — and the guys who will inevitably cross their paths, either briefly or long-term — are greater than the sums of their parts. They are more than their behavior on this day or in this week, at 16 or 18 or 22. They are growing and maturing and evolving, and part of the process of evolution involves making mistakes, learning from them, and moving on. Part of maturing involves being hurt, and it involves seeing how one’s actions and behavior might hurt others. You have to let all these young people live their lives on their own. You have to let them make mistakes, get hurt, learn, and grow.
I know it’s hard when you love your kids to watch them: a) make assholes of themselves; b) get hurt; and c) hurt others. It’s hard to see them stand in their own way or to stand in the way of someone else, especially when that someone else is also a person you care about. But you have to let them travel down their own paths, get a little lost, and eventually find their way, otherwise they won’t truly learn, and, months or years from now when they have another hurdle in their path, they won’t know how to navigate it because they won’t have the well of personal history and the emotional strength to draw from to carry them through.
The most you can do as a mother who wants to provide some guidance for her young-adult daughters is to remind them of the golden rule: Treat others as you would want them to treat you. It’s a rule you might need reminding of, too. If you wouldn’t want someone meddling in your personal relationships, it’s time to give your daughters, who are at least teenagers by now, the same respect.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.