Dear Dr Laura,
I adore you for your straight talk and no nonsense approach to people's issues. I wish more parents would be so straight forward with their kids, instead of worrying about hurting their feelings or sparking rebellion further by igniting disagreement.
I am about to turn 40 years old and my husband of 18 years has left me for a bar floozy. He just felt he deserved to "try out" others and see what it was like. I never thought I would be divorced. I treated kindly, I was his girlfriend, I was an excellent wife and mother to our kids. The thing was, I didn't choose wisely. I was very young when we married and had little dating experience to draw on. I thought commitment was enough. I had asked everyone I knew with more experience for advice before we married and no one ever suggested that we should wait. No one said, "Gosh, don't you think you'll be a different person when you are 28 than at 21?" Not one person spoke truth to us. I have since asked my parents why they never said anything to me about the warning signs in our relationship that they saw, and all I got was a vague answer about how they thought it wouldn't matter.
But it would have. I thought their word was law. I chose my college based on their words, staying in state instead of leaving the country because of an off-hand comment that neither of them now remember. I chose my clothes modestly because of the example they set. I chose my church to match their values. I ate, drank and slept in accordance with the values they had raised me. I thought about their ideals every day of my life, even when I decided to break a rule, I still was thinking about it. So why, at the very most important decision in my young life at that time so far, would I have ignored their warnings? I would not have. Just two years before, I dropped a guy like a rock because a complete stranger said he was bad for me - how much more would I have listened to my loving parents?
My point is, it is fairly agonizing to go 20 years slowly discovering problems that everyone around you were predicting all along. It would have been great if someone had said at the start of all of this, "Hey, I see this problem - want to avoid it?" At least then I would have been making an informed decision.
I do not regret my time spent in this marriage as I have my most precious and beautiful children. I do regret the impact that this has had on their lives. They deserved better. All I can do now is give them the directness and love that I had hoped I would had been given.
Please tell parents to be direct when they see something wrong.