I dont want my daughter making my mistakes
Welcome to our new column 'Asked-for Advice', offering thoughtful solutions to lifes ongoing problems. By All About You columnist Bertiebear
I’m in my mid-50s, and I feel I’ve wasted my life. I had a high-flying career until I got married, but had to give up work when I had a difficult pregnancy. By the time I was able to consider going back (against my then husband’s wishes), it was impossible to make up the lost ground.
My daughter is now 30 and works in the USA. We speak occasionally, but I haven’t seen her for two years. She’s recently got engaged to an American who I’ve never met. My ex-husband goes over there on business two or three times a year, when they get together, but I can’t afford to do the same. I don’t want her to make the same mistakes I did, but when I asked her father about this man, he just said she must live her own life her way, and I shouldn’t interfere.
I have my own house, and a reasonable job, but it isn’t where I thought I’d be at this stage in my life. I wish my daughter could see what damage the wrong choice can do.
How do I tell her, without falling out with her?
Before you go rushing in, think about what it is that’s really bothering you. This is much more about the regrets you have about your own life than about your daughter.
In your 20s, your career was really taking off, and you’d met a man whom (presumably) you loved. If your mother had warned you at the time that you could lose everything that mattered to you if you married and had children, would you have listened? I doubt it. Why would you? Everything was golden at that point, and you thought you could have and do it all. In the event, it wasn’t a mistake but unexpected health complications that interrupted your plans. What’s to say that something else wouldn’t have done the same at some point?
You are now divorced, and your daughter sees more of her father than of you, which you resent. You think he should discourage her from getting married, an event that would see her putting down deeper, more permanent roots in the US. You feel you’re being excluded.
Why assume that your daughter will be unhappy? Why not be glad that, at 30, she’s found someone with whom she wants to share her life? There are no guarantees with relationships, but should that stop her – or anyone – from having a little faith?
You can’t change the past; but you can try to find a way forward that satisfies your ambitions, or at least makes you happier in your personal life.
Instead of trying to stop her from marrying a man she loves, build on your relationship with her. What she wants is your love and approval, not pursed lips and dark warnings that what happened to you could repeat itself. Do you realise that you’re saying her career is more important than her emotional life?
Don’t be jealous of your ex’s contact with her: make the effort to talk to her more often via Skype. If you can see her face-to-face, you will be better able to judge for yourself how she is. You could even meet your future son-in-law on camera. Work towards a trip over there - check out cheap flights or last minute deals. Start planning now for the wedding by setting up a standing order to a savings account, so that it’s done automatically without you having to remember.
Get to know them both better, and set your own mind at rest. If anything is wrong, you’ll be able to talk more openly with her, than if you just transfer all your own feelings inappropriately into her life.
Would, should, could – they really don’t mean anything, except that you aren’t happy. Start thinking of the possibilities for the future, not the failed ones of 30-plus years ago. Your life isn’t over; change your outlook, and the rest will follow. The alternative leads only to bitterness, and ultimately an estrangement from your daughter that it may not be possible to heal.
Send your problems to Asked for Advice
Would another point of view help in your life? Would you like someone to listen, and possibly suggest a way forward? Send your problems in an email to Bertiebear at firstname.lastname@example.org - or post your issue in the comments box below.
Who is Bertiebear?
Bertiebear has been a regular contributor to the AAY forums for five years. A writer, mother, and grandmother, she has worked in schools and in TV news. She now lives in France, where she spends far too much time in DIY stores when she should be writing.
Read last month’s Asked for advice – BB offers support to a reader who wants to leave her husband