I am a bride-to-be with a very generous family. In fact, my parents have been gracious enough to foot the entire bill for my upcoming wedding (no small gift). My problem is that I feel I am somewhat paying for this by way of control over my own wedding. My father, a wonderful man in many ways, treats me like a child in meetings with my planner and vendors. My mother, another wonderful person, constantly interrupts me and says things like, “We will discuss this later,” and continues making decisions. I love my parents and appreciate them both very much, but it’s getting to the point where I am starting to resent them. I have done my best to drop hints that they need to stop, but nothing has changed. What do you suggest I do?
Not a Child
Dear Not a Child:
I want to commend you on being gracious enough to show appreciation for the monetary gifts your parents have bestowed upon you for the wedding and also for the love and generosity you imply they have shown you while growing up (i.e, referring to their being wonderful and how much you love them). I am guessing that while they know you’re not a little girl anymore, you are their little girl and they are doing what they can to assist you and protect you from perceived threats (monetary and otherwise) in the best way they know how. Intention aside, their behavior, as common as it may be, needs to be addressed (and not by way of hints they either don’t get or don’t take seriously).
Before you sit your mom and dad down, it is important to assess your role in this situation. Think about the ways in which you interact with your parents. Do you carry yourself like an independent adult or do you go into the ever-so-common habit of falling back into patterns of the past? Do you show up to vendors with a list of your own questions and a clear vision of what you like and do not like? If you do, do you share them? Do you follow-up with vendors and create your own relationship with them or do you find yourself staying silent and deferring to mom? Being interrupted can make the person speaking feel invalidated, but sometimes the person doing the interrupting is doing it out of enthusiasm or even without knowing. When you are told “we will speak about this later,” what is your response? Have you tried, “If you don’t mind, I would like to discuss this now so that we are all on the same page?”
Once you have a good idea of what you want, don’t want, like and dislike in relation to your wedding, sit down and think about what you want, don’t want, like and don’t like about the way you are interacting with your parents. Then write them a thank you note and ask them to lunch, brunch, or dinner. Tell them how much you appreciate them and let them know how you feel while giving them the benefit-of-the-doubt. Share your clear vision as to how you want things to proceed and ask them if they are on-board. My guess is that they will be proud of the respectful and communicative woman their little girl has grown up to be.
Good luck, love.