Dear Annie: Our daughter, "Jenny," is graduating from college in a few weeks, and my husband and I are very proud. We were unable to afford college, but once we had a child, we knew how important it was for her to go. My husband has worked in a factory his whole life and two years ago became a supervisor.
We have always been a close family, but something has come up that has caused a lot of arguments, and I am writing to ask for your advice. What happened is my daughter's boyfriend, "Todd."
Jenny first told us about Todd during the Christmas vacation. She said she had met a fellow student and really liked him. Jenny has had a few dates over the years, but she was never boy crazy, and Todd is her first serious boyfriend. Jenny has always been the studious type. We were interested to get to know Todd, who is also a senior and will be graduating with Jenny. We don't dislike him, but we're not crazy about him either. He is not warm and friendly. He is quiet and can appear cold when you first meet him. He can be funny sometimes, but he's mostly quiet.
The problem is that we assumed all along that Jenny would return home for a few years after college, get a job and start to pay back her student loans. But she told us that Todd was accepted to graduate school and will be studying for a master's degree in a school located more than 2,000 miles from our house, and she wants to go with him. She doesn't have a job and is not sure what she will do. She's even talking about staying in school herself.
This has caused the first serious rift in our family. My husband is fit to be tied. He cannot discuss the subject without exploding about Jenny's ingratitude and selfishness. She bursts into tears whenever we try to persuade her not to go, saying she loves Todd and has made up her mind. — Feeling Torn Apart
Dear Torn Apart: Jenny is not a little girl any more, and you and your husband should really focus on gratitude and appreciation; she fulfilled your dreams of going to college and succeeding. If she and Todd are in love, then they would be miserable if they had to live thousands of miles apart. If you allow your hurt feelings to destroy the good relations you have had with Jenny her whole life, it could take years for your relationship to recover. Ask Jenny to help you both get closer to Todd so that the close-knit family you all knew will continue with one additional member.