My daughter decided to get married without telling me

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a public servant in my 50s. My elder daughter, who is in her mid-30s, suddenly told me she was getting married. She didn’t talk to me at all about this. I feel like I’ve failed at raising her well.

I got divorced when my two daughters were still young. I raised them with the help of my mother, who is now deceased. I didn’t receive any financial support from my ex-husband.

I didn’t oppose my younger daughter marrying, but the elder one wants to wed a man who is about 10 years older than her. My daughter also said he’s been married before, and his ex-wife moved out with their child.

When I asked my daughter to think it over, she said that a doctor had told her, “You might have difficulties getting pregnant if you wait too long.”

I couldn’t believe she visited a doctor with him. Even though I worked so hard to raise her, I feel like I’ve been betrayed by my own child because she didn’t say a thing to me.

When I told her, “I’ll cut off all ties with you if you get married,” my younger daughter, who was in a neutral position, stopped contacting me.

My elder daughter might already be married. Did I fail somehow at raising them?

—C, Yamanashi Prefecture

Dear Ms. C:

You raised two children on your own without financial support from your ex-husband. I tip my hat to your hard work all these long years raising them on your own.

However, if I were to guess at your elder daughter’s thoughts, I think they would go a little something like this: “I’m grateful to my mother for raising me, but marriage is my own choice to make. He really, truly, wants to spend his life with me. I love him, too. I don’t care about his age or the fact that he was married and has an ex-wife and a child. I think my mother wouldn’t understand if I told her any of this. We’d just end up fighting. I think I’ll stay away from her for a while.”

Why not quietly watch over her from afar for now? Your daughter took that first step while understanding it is not exactly an ideal marriage. I think you also had to take that first step to get divorced. You should respect your daughter’s wishes in this matter.

Of course, nowhere is it written that your daughter’s marriage will go well. If it fails, please refrain from blaming her for not listening to your advice. Instead, please simply be there for her.

I believe there is no such thing as success or failure when it comes to raising children. Instead, a relationship between a mother and her daughter is one that changes but still continues forever.

—Yoko Sanuki, lawyer