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Ask Ellie: No apologies needed by traditional mom to daughter

Stay-home mother was born here as second-generation Canadians with Western values and cultures
Advice columnist Ellie Tesher.

Dear Ellie: I’m an immigrant “stay-home” mother who raised two now-adult children, born here as second-generation Canadians with Western values and cultures.

My dilemma regards my adult daughter and Christmas.

Over recent years, she and her boyfriend broke up several times. Now, she’s joining him and his family far away across the country during the Christmas holidays.

I’ve been experiencing my own emotional turmoil about this.

I’d already abandoned almost all my traditional values and cultural norms while raising children. I’d accepted living in a western country and a fast-changing modern world.

I’d likely struggle less if my daughter had become engaged or married before spending the holiday season with her in-law family. But she’s neither engaged, married, nor in a defined relationship with him.

I don’t know how to respond or react. I wish to keep peace in the family but wonder if I should let her know my true mind i.e., that she should only be going with him and his family if she’s engaged or married to him.

But I’m hesitant to impose. I experienced a painful cycle of letting go when children turn to adults. Should I let this pass too? Is this the ultimate letting go or is this uncaring? I don’t want my daughter to feel that my acceptance or silence means I don’t care. We’ve passed the stage of giving consent or approval. She’ll do what she wants regardless.

I just need to work on myself and be able to behave civilly when I see her, now or after the festive season. She’s a working independent adult who lives away from home. Should I say anything at all?

Note: I was deeply flawed when I began parenthood. I didn’t realize my own brokenness until my kids reached young adult years.

I saw the consequences of my parenting and past actions, and apologised to them for countless mistakes done unknowingly or unintentionally to them.

Those mistakes contributed to the many struggles they experienced. Fortunately, we’re currently in a repairing stage.

Very Sad Mother

You’ve grown both emotionally and intellectually, since you faced single motherhood within a very different culture from your past.

No more apologies to adult children are needed… only continued understanding, openness, and support. Any discussion shouldn’t be just to change your daughter’s mind.

Yes, she’s independent enough to make her own choices. She may also be smart enough to check out what his family and home life are like, before there’s any commitment to a full-on relationship.

She may be visiting just for the adventure, or because she always wanted to share in a traditional Christmas. Meanwhile, you’ve helped her learn to trust her own judgement… a major goal of mothering!

Reader’s Commentary Regarding the grandfather making negative remarks about his former son-in-law to his grandson (Dec. 3):

“Our grandchildren were 11 and 13 when our son and his wife separated. She became angry/bitter, publicly maligning us and our son, working to turn the children against their father.

“As Ellie noted, this kind of behaviour by an adult is now considered a form of child abuse.

“We chose to discuss nothing with the children and remain above the ugliness, while quietly mentioning sometimes that their father was a good man and loved them very much.

“We assured them of our own love for them and saw to it that they continued to view us as the same caring and stable force in their lives that we’d always been.

“They eventually reunited with their father.”

FEEDBACK Regarding what’s happening at a house rented by three young men, where young women come and go during the night (December 3):

Reader #1 – “In a similar situation, there was a six-month surveillance operation initiated which revealed human trafficking and production of child porn. Charges were laid and Police got convictions on a retired police officer’s son who ran the operation.

“It isn’t normal to have multiple women leaving at all hours. It’s a stereotype to assume that young men are over-sexualized and this is normal activity. Police should’ve been the first response to report suspicious activity. If it’s legal activity, no harm done.”

Reader #2 – “Your letter-writer’s judging her young neighbours, especially the women. Many people don’t work 9am to 5pm - e.g., restaurant workers finish late.

“It’s mean-spirited and sexist to assume that these women are up to no good merely because they keep late hours.”

Ellie’s tip of the day

Adult wisdom is best measured by its growth, adaptability, and recognition/acceptance of new realities.

Send relationship questions to [email protected].

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