Dear Amy: I never interfere with our children’s spouses’ business. I have a good relationship with both of our kids’ spouses.
Our daughter-in-law decided to go back to school about five years ago.
Our son financed her education with the hopes, I suspect, that she’d get a good-paying job and improve their financial situation.
She graduated, but has never secured a job.
She is in a medical field that requires a state license.
My husband and daughter both hold state licenses in their respective medical fields, and are listed on the state registry.
While browsing the registry recently, my husband noticed that our daughter-in-law’s name was not in the registry. He told our son, who was not aware of this.
She later explained to him that she’d “let her license lapse.”
My husband noted that if she’d ever secured a state license, her name would be on the registry and is kept there until death.
I told my son that I didn’t think she was being truthful with him.
He was upset with her, and now she won’t speak to us.
I know I overstepped into their business and I even surprised myself because I usually never do this.
What should I do now?
Do I need to apologize, and if so, how? I do know that she lies.
— Contrite Mother-in-law
Dear Contrite: From your account, your husband also busy-bodied his way into and through this drama. Don’t leave him out of the contrition portion of this episode.
Furthermore, your final shot: “I do know that she lies” makes me wonder if you are ready to apologize.
Even though your daughter-in-law seems firmly in the wrong regarding her own choices, you and your husband have outed her and interfered in her business life and in her marriage.
Under what circumstances would she want to communicate with you?
The way to apologize is to own your actions, sincerely say that you are sorry, say that you will never do this again, and ask for forgiveness.
Now that your daughter-in-law has been exposed, the marriage might be in trouble, and while this is not your fault or responsibility, I predict a cold front, followed by an extended period of frost.
Dear Amy: I have a colleague who I’ve really enjoyed working with over the past four years, however, they are retiring very soon.
We get along really well, and it will be hard to see this person leave.
I don’t want this to be the end of us seeing each other, but the issue is that we are from different generations: I’m a millennial and my colleague is a baby boomer.
Can an intergenerational friendship like this work?
Neither of us has a busy family life.
I tend to prefer being around people older than me. I appreciate their wisdom and perspective.
I act older than my age, and my colleague acts younger, so there seems to be a good balance for a lasting friendship.
I don’t think this person knows I want to continue staying friends.
I want to ask, but I’m not sure how or if this is even appropriate because of our age difference.
— Young Colleague
Dear Young: I’m somewhat confused by your inability to imagine a vibrant friendship between generations. I hope your boomer colleague is more open-minded!
Retirement or other job transitions often bring up promises to keep relationships going, but these tend to fade without the ease and commonality offered by sharing office space and bumping into one another in the break room.
Except when they don’t.
Two of my closest friendships (one who is 15 years younger, one significantly older) started in the workplace.
I’ve worked with many dozens of people over the years, and two friendships is a pretty good yield.
You don’t need to explicitly ask this person if they want to stay friends with you. Keep in touch (via social media or email) and make overtures to get together for Saturday coffee or an after-work drink.
As with any friendship, you will have to read whatever cues your colleague lays down; when some people leave the workplace, they want to leave it all behind.
Dear Amy: You offered up a classic “non-apology” when coaching a mother-in-law whose daughter-in-law overheard her saying very harsh things.
You suggested that she say, “I’m sorry you overheard…” etc., but you never told her to apologize for the things she said!
Dear Upset: Several readers pointed this out.
You’re right! I’m wrong. I apologize for recommending this non-apology.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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