Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I’m being purposefully vague because my daughter reads your column.
She’s a public sector social worker who deals with a very dangerous
population. The problem: she’s fallen in love with someone so
inappropriate that I am terrified she’ll marry him and that he’ll kill her
for her inheritance. I know I sound like a hysterical mother, but this
wouldn’t be the first time such a case has made headlines. I love my
bleeding heart daughter and don’t want to lose her. How can I head off
this romance before he’s out on parole and able to take her to the
altar? Will cutting her out of the will save us?

Dear Terrified:
You’ve described the situation perfectly from a mother’s perspective.
While no one can tell you any of your worst scenarios won’t happen,
it’s your daughter you are dealing with, not a stranger to whom you
could give your unfiltered responses without repercussions on your
relationship, which I&'d like to think is strong and loving. I assume
you’ve already expressed your fears. Also that your daughter (like
most daughters) has developed a mother filter to discount what you
say. Even if it could be scientifically proven you were 100% right, she
probably wouldn’t hear it. None of which makes you any less right or
wrong, just less heard. So you need to work on both your delivery and
your message.

A person who thinks differently from you would hear you as intrusive
and bullying. The beau’s judicial history aside, you sound like a mother
talking to her young child. No. Because I said so. Because I’m your
mother, that’s why. That won’t work, and the unintended
consequences are very large and likely. You need to listen to her, or                          convince her you are trying to listen. Though it’s scary, she may in fact
be right about some or all of what she’s saying. Though the odds that
you’re right are long in the aggregate, this guy may be an exception
and you need to at least think about that possibility. You also need to
evaluate the risks of how she’ll respond to how you respond. It’s not a
one-way street. She’s an adult. You cannot tell her what to do and
assume she’ll do it. She has the right and the ability to cut you out of
her life as much as you do to cut her out of your will. So you will need
to tread carefully and patiently. You will need to seem sincere in your
desire to understand her, even if you are doing it through gritted teeth
behind your patient exterior.

That said, how to actually respond: Do your best to slow things down
and make them kinder. Set up a series of times to talk to your
daughter. Think about having some of them in a context like
counseling. Or with a rabbi, or some other third party you both think
would be a good mediator to the process. Ask her to write down
everything that’s bothering her about how you are responding. Ask her
to plead his case in writing. Ask her to focus on the rational not the
emotional. By using a third party in the mix she’ll get other feedback
and perspective, as will you. To really get perspective, consider
meeting him.

Don’t threaten up front.  If you do, and then act on those threats she
will just assume you didn’t listen at all and that the whole process was
a sham. If you cannot make any change in your heart, or even if you
can, but remain suspicious put your will into a trust, something that
can only go to her in small increments or with other protective
triggers. Tell her if anything mysterious happens to her, there are
clauses that would get tripped. Accept that she likely will call you a
classist, racist, etc but she cannot compel you to do differently than
you want to do, any more than you can compel her.

Ultimately you need to decide if you’re willing to risk losing your
daughter, even temporarily, over this issue. It feels like life and death
to you, but she probably feels the same. The “if he gets parole” sounds
promising for you. Long distance relationships have a romantic charm
that can pale over time. Steel bars and glass panes are also a
deterrent. You don’t want to push her into an early conjugal
connection. Stall as long as you can before you commit to anything.
Maybe she’ll meet someone else in the interim. Until they actually tie
the knot you are safe.