Q: Our daughter is married to a good, kind, giving man. We love them both very much, but most of the time my daughter is disrespectful and mean to her husband. He’s passive and just takes it from her. This upsets our entire family and I’m inclined to speak with my daughter about it. Do you think I should?
A: This is a judgment call that requires careful thought and perhaps some outside counsel. In considering your response, it’s important to recognise that as an adult your daughter is your peer rather than your “child.” We’d also suggest you try to look at her and her husband as if they weren’t related to you. By adopting this perspective, you’ll be less likely to inappropriately inject yourself into their relationship.
If the quality of your relationship with your daughter is such that you think she’d be open to hearing your concerns, talk to her about your feelings. Again, it’s critical that you approach the conversation as a caring friend and not a condemning parent. If your daughter responds positively, you can discuss the problem further and offer ways you might be of encouragement and help.
If, however, she proves resistant to your concerns, we’d recommend you ease off. In many cases, a trusted third party to whom your daughter might be more inclined to listen may prove to be a more effective means of intervening.
Meanwhile, if your daughter’s behaviour makes everyone uncomfortable, you can remedy the situation by adopting a “my house, my rules” approach. You can’t dictate how she should talk to her husband. But you can say, “At my house we have a rule that everybody is to be treated with respect.” If your daughter refuses to comply, stop inviting her to family gatherings.
If you need help to navigate this sensitive situation, don’t hesitate to call our Family Support Services at 03-7954 7920 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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