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posted: 8/6/2013 1:14 PM

Don't send advice to your daughter unless she asks for it

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Q. I guess I'm old-school because my 23-year-old daughter has moved in with her boyfriend and I have concerns about almost everything.

On one hand, I know she is an adult and, even though I think it is morally wrong for two people to have sex before marriage, I will need to accept her choice. On the other hand, I know problems could arise no matter how much they think everything will be all right.

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She knows my basic feelings, and, since she now lives more than 4,000 miles away, things can be a bit tricky when we discuss her new living situation.

My question is whether I should warn her about the legal issues. She might take it the wrong way. I did find a nice website that covers the issues pretty well. Would it be better for me to send it to her without letting her know about it, ask her if she wants to see it then send it only if she agrees, or back off?

Hawaii Dad

A. That depends.

"Problems could arise no matter how much they think everything will be all right." This is true of cohabiting, yes.

It's also true of getting married, having children, driving a car, riding in a car, being exposed to the sun, having a job, not having a job, crossing the street, eating food or taking a shower.

If you believed your daughter wasn't taking an adult approach to these other risks, then how would you suggest websites that discuss reasonable precautions she can take?

Would you decide the potential benefit to her outweighed the possible cost to your relationship for appearing meddlesome? Possibly most important, what's the precedent? Have you typically sent her articles explaining, say, the increasing severity of the weather in her part of the country, or new research linking a favorite food of hers to cancer? If so, then, sure, send her the link to that website. Asking whether she wants it would be a respectful touch.

But if you are moved to send cautionary links only when your daughter makes decisions that don't align with your values, then expect her to interpret or recognize your motive as an attempt to control, not protect, and back off.

Q. My wife and I were married a little over three years ago, and now several of her family members are getting married.

In terms of gifts, my thought is, since I am the only one working, we are not giving any more than we received from each party. Her thought is that we should give a better-sounding amount. Any thoughts?

D.

A. My suspicion is that you're nursing a grudge over the amount you received from "each party."

My thought is that basing a gift on such a grudge or, even if you're not chapped by it, in any way reflecting in your gift the apparently worse-sounding amount they gave you is petty.

Give what you think is right, within the limits of what you can afford. When it comes to gifts, weddings and family members, try this as your new mantra: Count blessings, not beans.

• Email Carolyn at tellmewashpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.

2013 The Washington Post

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