When it comes to giving our grown children advice (the unsolicited variety), it's seller beware. Paterfamilias, for one, thought he had mastered that elementary lesson, especially after giving Alpha Daughter his best lawyerly advice about an insurance claim. He had offered his counsel in serial fashion, which is to say, several times to make various legal points, until she finally cut him off: "I don't want to talk about it anymore," she told him.
He forgot that lesson when there was a small claims court suit Alpha Daughter needed to bring against an airline that wronged her, our son-in-law and our Grand Pup. (As they were checking in for their flight from Boston to Berlin--they were going to live in Berlin for a year--the airline told them it wouldn't let the dog on board, even though our SIL had discussed size of dog and crate with them in advance and had met all their requirements. SIL and pup had to purchase another ticket and fly another airline the next day. No refund from the first airline!) It wasn't so much PF's offering of advice on how to file a claim--that was greatly appreciated--it was the timing of that advice. She was temporarily overwhelmed by her workload and family demands and just didn't "want to talk about it now."
So did PF know better than to offer advice when Alpha Daughter--a woman with a responsible job, 12-year-old child, house and mortgage--needed to replace her 13-year-old car? It was very tempting to tell her what to buy: PF had not only just published his book on the history of automobile safety (Car Safety Wars: 100 years of technology, politics and death), he had bonded with many experts who follow the day-to-day safety records of cars currently on the road.
This time, though, he wised up. He used email to send buying suggestions from a friend at the Center for Auto Safety and links to government and other sites that rank cars for various aspects of their safety.
The next morning, he was a little uneasy about opening the return email from his daughter. "I thought she was going to tell me to butt out." Instead, her return message was simple and elegant: "Great advice. Thanks dad."
As I see it, PF dodged the advice bullet by not giving direct suggestions--buy this, not that--but rather by leading her to the sources that she could use to make a good decision. That's why he wanted to intervene in the first place: "All I care about is the safety of my daughter, my grandchild and my son-in-law." He didn't mention the GrandPup.