Hi Dr. Laura:
My husband and I have been married for 31 years and have 3 grown children. As they were growing up, we were their parents and not their friends. Other parents thought we were too tough on our kids. We found that kids live up (or down) to the expectations that you hold for them. Though our children were not always angels, they were relatively easy as children go. All 3 are now productive members of society, starting families of their own.
When the middle one graduated from college and got a job she announced she was going to move in with her boyfriend. All her friends were doing it and they wanted to save money to get married. I calmly told her she was an adult and could make her own decisions, but I was also an adult and would not pay for her wedding if she shacked up and played house before the ceremony.
She argued they would be able to save more money with only one rent bill and set of utilities. I said they should each get a roommate, and live down the street from each other but not together. She said the only thing keeping them from getting married was the money for him to buy her a ring. If that was the only thing, then I would give her my first engagement ring (my husband had bought me a bigger one after 20 years of marriage and my old one was sitting unused in my jewelry box). She didn't want to do that because she wanted it to come from him. "My point exactly, I said. If you wait and do things the proper way, they have so much more meaning."
She was mad at me, but did what I suggested. They both got roommates. He saved up enough money to buy her a beautiful ring and they are engaged to be married. She admitted to me after she got engaged that she was glad she listened to me.
Thank you Dr. Laura, for helping me raise my kids to be adults who make me extremely proud.