Question:

My lovely, 23-year-old daughter is a romantic and wants to marry the young man she is dating. They have "officially" dated two years, but were friends for years before that. They did not attend college together, so are just recently back in the same town.

My daughter lives alone, pays her bills, and is learning how to be a responsible adult, but she is still naive in many ways. Having just graduated, her boyfriend lives with his parents (who fully promote this relationship) and has an entry-level job, so has not yet lived independently or paid his own way.

I don't want her to become so involved that she won't be able to extricate herself from this relationship should it not endure.

My daughter fluctuates about what she wants to do, careerwise, and I want her to be able to explore many options, develop friendships, and focus on aspects of her life other than getting married. How can I encourage her to slow down and focus on becoming an independent, self-reliant woman in her own right?

Answer: By letting her navigate this relationship for herself.

You provide a thorough accounting of common, indeed, legitimate concerns about committing to someone too young, but you know what? It's not your call. None of what you say will be as persuasive as what she learns for herself; independent, self-reliant people become that way by learning to get up after they fall.

You have so much more to gain from trusting the daughter you already raised than from fussing to perfect the daughter you envision. It'll be painful for you both sometimes, but loving someone always is.

E-mail Carolyn Hax at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/

carolyn.hax.