Dear Patricia Marie,

My husband and our daughter aren't speaking. The problem is that her boyfriend from university came to stay last weekend, and my husband caught him sneaking out of her bedroom during the night. There was a terrible row and they both left early the next morning. Now she is adamant she's not coming to see us at Christmas. She is furious with her dad for embarrassing her in front of her boyfriend, and sees nothing wrong in sleeping with him in our home. My husband feels he was right to 'uphold standards', but I disagree, as life is so different now to how it was when we were young.

What do you think?

Patricia Marie says...

Most parents at some time have to face this dilemma, and the only way to resolve it is for both parties to communicate and come to a compromise. I'm wondering if your husband discussed sleeping arrangements with your daughter and her boyfriend prior to the visit, to make it clear what he considered acceptable, as setting initial boundaries may have avoided this problem. Nevertheless, they are over 18, presumably already have a physical relationship, and may even live together at university, so he does need to recognise this. Whichever way he views the boyfriend's behaviour, I feel sure the young man would rather not be having to be covert in his actions.

At this moment they have now taken another option - not to visit a Victorian father who considers his daughter a fallen woman and her boyfriend dishonourable. Although she does need to be more understanding and respectful of her father's wishes, it appears that either your husband re-evaluates his personal ethics, and is welcoming, or he risks her celebrating Christmas elsewhere. It is important too, for you to express to him how unreasonable you feel he is being, and that you do not agree with the way he has dealt with this. However difficult the situation currently seems, friendly negotiations and mutual apologies might encourage a speedy reconciliation. I do hope so.