Dear Amy: Our 24-year-old daughter recently moved out of state to enter grad school in the medical field.

After graduation from college a year and a half ago, she worked in a rehab hospital, where she became close to one of her co-workers, and it seemed like they had a strong friendship. We have met him, and we like him — he is kind, intelligent, grounded and treats her with respect.

Recently, she told me that the two of them have been dating for about six months. She was reluctant to tell us because she thought we would not approve. He is 17 years her senior.

She said that despite their relationship, she still is very happy that she moved away because she is pursuing her dreams and goals. She said that they are taking it one day at a time.

My daughter has always been strong and independent. She was in one other serious relationship and said the relationship taught her that she wanted a more mature partner.

I realize that she is an adult and gets to make her own choices, but I am wondering if I'm negligent as her mother to not point out the possible challenges, should this relationship continue.

I know our opinion means a lot to her, but I also know she will do what is best for her. Should I just keep my concerns to myself?

Amy says: Your daughter sounds smart, independent and capable. These qualities make her well equipped to handle her intimate relationships.

Like all of us, she occasionally will struggle and make mistakes. But unless there are mitigating circumstances that you don't mention (he is married, has children or a previous unhealthy history with relationships), you must trust that your daughter will make her own way, as we all must.

A child's job is to grow up. A parent's job is to let them. It seems that your daughter has done an exemplary job. You should continue to do yours.

Remembering Mom

Dear Amy: My eldest son is getting married a year from now. My concern is how he might choose to include his late mother in the celebration.

She died from ovarian cancer two years ago. His fiancee had several interactions with my late wife near the end of her life, so I am hopeful that the couple will recognize her on their special day.

I have not mentioned this to my son, and I will wait to see what he thinks should be done, without my prompting. I have, however, asked a dozen or so close friends for suggestions. One mentioned putting a rose where my late wife would be sitting. That seems very subtle.

What do you think?

Amy says: As the date gets closer, you should raise this idea with the couple. They might be avoiding this question in the mistaken belief that including a symbol devoted to your late wife during the wedding would make people sad on what should otherwise be a happy occasion. But I agree with you that symbols representing a beloved family member serve as reminders that weddings are family-building events.

I like the idea of you and your sons perhaps wearing a special flower on your lapels as a way to keep their mother's memory close to you all during the day. There might be an item your late wife owned — a piece of jewelry, perhaps — that you could offer as a gift to the bride.

You also will want to mention your late wife in your toast and ask the assembled guests to raise a glass in her memory. Remind them to do so — with joy.

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