LISA: If your son or daughter was 17 or 18, then I’d strongly oppose such a relationship… but a young adult at age 22 is ultimately going to do as they choose. Still, I suggest you have a respectful discussion with your daughter/son—you might do best by asking a series of candid questions which elicit answers, highlighting the many drawbacks of the large age difference, rather than making these points yourself. Try to keep the discussion positive and loving, and let your daughter/son know that your love and support is unconditional. I believe a respectful “soft opposition” to your daughter/son’s relationship is the best way to proceed, and in this way you can hopefully have some positive influence and an ongoing dialogue as their relationship grows (or fails).
ERIC: I’m not a fan of this concept, and I’m sure your mind is racing—as mine is—with reasons why such a relationship is not sustainable. Personally, I have several friends who have had failed relationships with individuals of a vastly different age. That being said, I can also point to one or two couples who have managed to make it work, even into the retirement years of one partner when the age difference tends to be more amplified. Anyway, if I was in your position I’d discuss with my young-adult daughter/son the short- and long-term pros and cons of entering such a relationship. In the end, of course, all relationships are a risk taken (or not) based on a balance of rational thought and gut feelings. Hopefully as an engaged parent you can offer some input and guidance along the way.