Dear Amy: Can you help me understand the boundaries of offering advice?
My 35-year-old daughter must make an employment decision involving relocation. From personal experience, I have insights into her potential relocation choices that she does not have. What I know could affect her ultimate happiness.
She hasn't asked for my insight, so I haven't given it. Should I anyway?
I suspect she'd be OK with what I have to say, but her husband might react badly. He's an in-charge kind of guy who might interpret my input as meddling rather than helping.
Amy says: I have a faded sticky note stuck to the bulletin board over my desk: "Unsolicited advice is almost always self-serving."
For a professional advice-giver, it is vital that I rein in my own tendencies toward friends and family. I'm not always successful.
However, the wise choice not to offer unsolicited advice does not mean that you should always proactively keep a lid on things, certainly if you possess actual insight (and not just a knee-jerk reaction).
One way to handle this would be to invite your daughter to solicit your advice.
You can say, "I have some insight about your relocation ideas, based on my own experience. I don't want to get in your way, but if you're interested in hearing my thoughts, let me know and we can talk about it."
You are your daughter's mother. Her husband is not in charge of her conversations with you. If she asks for your opinion, you should offer it, regardless of how you think he might interpret it. Whether your daughter chooses to follow your recommendation should be completely up to her — and so you should detach from any particular outcome.
They're not into you
Dear Amy: My husband and I are retirees, married for 37 years. He golfs regularly with "Brian."
I think Brian is a know-it-all, and his wife "Karen" is self-centered. I feel we have very little in common with them, and frankly, they don't seem very interested in us. Both of their children have been married within the past two years, and we were not invited to the weddings, and they don't send us Christmas cards or acknowledge other special occasions.
However, despite their lukewarm attitude toward us, my husband frequently makes plans to get together.
For instance, my husband wanted to miss our daughter's college graduation so we could travel with this couple. I'm not real eager to spend time with them, but how do I get my husband to let them go?
I don't understand why he doesn't get that their vague interest in us indicates that they're not into us, and he's offended when I point out that they don't make much of an effort to get in touch.
Amy says: It sounds as if your husband is somewhat captivated by this couple — to the extent that he has developed social myopia, which I define as an inability to perceive social cues accurately.
Some events — such as college graduations — are nonnegotiable. You were right to insist on a course correction.
In order to communicate about this, don't dwell on your personally dim opinion of "Brian" and "Karen." Ask him with an open attitude to describe why he enjoys their company so much.
Tell him, honestly, that you believe they aren't very interested in a close friendship, and that he can choose his own golfing companions, but he can't choose your friends for you. If he makes plans or accepts an invitation without discussing it with you in advance, you could choose to stay home.
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