Author Topic: Parental involvement in (teen) da[color=black]ting[/color] . . . UPDATE Pg5 #70  (Read 13814 times)

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jpcher

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As a parent, how much say do you have in your teen's choices for BFs/GFs? Do you try to steer them away when you don't agree with their choice? Do you say "that person is just not right for you?" Do you voice your opinion or do you just keep your mouth shut? OR! ;D Do you lock them away in a tower for a hundred years until they see your point of view?

This can go beyond the teen years . . . when your kids are young adults what do you say when Mary/Sam (your daughter/son) brings home a deadbeat? Or someone that is loud and obnoxious, etc.?


Does Miss Manners have anything to say about how un/involved you should be with your children's choices? More to the point, how to politely handle the choices your children make.




I do have a specific story to tell, but I'd really like to hear the in-general thoughts first.



Any input/experiences from both sides of the coin would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks! ;D
« Last Edit: April 09, 2012, 08:28:25 PM by jpcher »

Searcher

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I'm not a parent, so you can take my suggestions for whatever they're worth, but unless the B/GF has a very serious problem, like drugs, violence, or other abusive behavior, I'd back off. 

I wouldn't say "that person is just not right for you" because that person actually might be and I'm not seeing it.  I do think it's okay to mention annoying or dangerous personal traits, like "That boy drives too fast, like he's in a drag race, and I'm scared that if you're in the car with him when he does you could get into an accident" or "She smokes and I don't care for that in the house," or something along those lines.  But since what is annoying can be very subjective, if the objection is that the friend is of a different background, I wouldn't go there.

But it's definitely okay to have a "facts of life" talk.

jmarvellous

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I think my mom did well in talking about my boyfriends (particularly in my teen years) like ordinary folks.
I weighed her comment that my first was a "suck up" (he was!) alongside her comment that he was also talented (eh) theatrically. And broke up with him in short order.
I weighed her comment that another was whiny alongside my own knowledge that he was also a pretty smart and interesting guy, and realized the thing that she'd noticed in minutes was his defining trait and that I couldn't put up with it a minute longer.
Another "totally irresponsible" but "really fun and great with your little siblings."
Another was "sweet" but also "goofy." "A strange bird who really loves you." (That one lasted the longest, in case you were wondering.)

In other words, we had "adult"-like conversations about the pros and cons of several guys, mostly led by my own instincts but subtly guided by her, which helped to boost my own suspicions in some cases, or raise my confidence about opinions that ran contrary to hers.

If she told me I "had" to break up with someone, I probably wouldn't (definitely wouldn't?) have listened -- just like I didn't listen to my domineering father's opinions voiced loudly and controllingly. Treating me like someone learning to date was spot-on -- that's who I was! She also knew when I wasn't ready to listen -- like with a certain horribly codependent relationship in my early 20s -- and stuck to a support role, rather than critiques, then.

She was factual, straightforward and honest about her feelings (and when she wasn't sure how she felt). It was part of how we became friends.

p.s. She thinks current boyfriend is "cute as a button" and "really wonderful." I agree.

Sharnita

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I think it can depend on the personality of the kid.  With one of my sisters, if my mom had said "He is perfect for you" that might had been the end of the relationship.  WIth the other she would have given careful consideration to mom's opinion.  Same if mom disapproved.

I think that parents can have house rules that might reflect their general views on appropriate conduct for couples in general.  I don't have a problem with not allowing unwed copules to share a room, for example.  I would have a problem if they let son share a room with his SO but not daughter.

Twik

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Does Miss Manners have anything to say about how un/involved you should be with your children's choices? More to the point, how to politely handle the choices your children make.

The only time I recall Judith Martin discussing the topic was a woman who was unhappy with her recently-widowed mother's dating choice, and wanted to know how to "tactfully point out his deficiencies". Her answer was that such criticism would be taken about as well as the writer would have taken similiar advice when she was a teen, and her mother had disapproved of her boyfriends. In other words, it would be disrepectful to the other person's autonomy.

Your position as parent does not entitle you to choose your child's romantic partners. You may not think that a particular person is "right" for your child, but children become adults through making their own mistakes. Unless it's a matter of safety, politeness normally requires you to keep your own counsel. And let's face it - teens often want to feel that Romeo and Juliet vibe. Complaining about their dates is a great way to make them appear more desirable in your child's eyes.
My cousin's memoir of love and loneliness while raising a child with multiple disabilities will be out on Amazon soon! Know the Night, by Maria Mutch, has been called "full of hope, light, and companionship for surviving the small hours of the night."

wolfie

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As a parent, how much say do you have in your teen's choices for BFs/GFs? Do you try to steer them away when you don't agree with their choice? Do you say "that person is just not right for you?" Do you voice your opinion or do you just keep your mouth shut? OR! ;D Do you lock them away in a tower for a hundred years until they see your point of view?


My mother did that. Told me my now DH isn't right for me. Well we have been married over 12 years and the first 5 of them I wasn't talking to my parents anymore because they decided the should have as much if not more say in my romantic partners then I do. I would say if you are asked you can give your opinion but be gentle on either side. Don't gush over someone and don't tar them either. Consider that this person might be the person your child decides to marry and wether you really want them to remember the bad things you said after the marriage. Also consider that your child might break up with this person in two weeks and might be afraid of disappointing you if you praised him as the second coming!

You have no idea who is or isn't right for your child. You might have ideas and they might be accurate but as you aren't your child you can not possibly know for sure that someone is or isn't someone they could love the rest of their life. My mom saying that didn't make me thing "huh, maybe I should rethink this relationship". It did make me think "I guess my mom doesn't know me that well afterall".

artk2002

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Unless I see something actively dangerous, I'm keeping my mouth shut. If one of the boys seems unhappy in his relationship, I may ask him about it, but only to get him talking, not to tell him what I think of his partner. This is one area where parental interference really isn't going to help -- my boys are old enough (a bit younger than your daughters) to feel the pain of their own relationship mishaps and to learn from them.

Short answer to the question, "how to politely handle the choices your children make?": With your mouth shut.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

jimithing

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IME ( I don't have children, but have worked with teens and their parents for 13 years), it's OK to give input, and of course, in a serious situation (abuse, drugs, etc.), intervene, but the minute you tell them they can't date or see that person, they will dig their heels in and get even more serious.

I had a frantic mom come into my office once. She had found out her daughter, who was a great kid, had snuck her BF into the house. She was soooo upset about it, and couldn't even talk to her or look at her, she said. And then she told me that her daughter really wanted to introduce her BF to them, and she just couldn't bring herself to do it. I finally got her to realize that most parents were KILL for their teenager to introduce their BF/GF to them, and that was a really good sign. She finally calmed down enough to get it.

Judah

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Fortunately for me, I've never been on the parental side of this (knock on wood, and keep your fingers crossed), but my mom did occasionally give me input on the guys I was dating.  Although I was open to her input, I don't think I gave her wisdom the weight I should have.  I do appreciate that she was looking out for me and trying to protect me, but I have to learn things the hard way.  And I give her a lot of credit; she was right every time.  ::)
Ask for what you want. Let's be clear on this one:
Subtle hints don't work.
Strong hints don't work.
Really obvious hints don't work.
Just say it!

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Ygraine

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If my two had girlfriends that I "disapproved" of, I used "The Godfather" method:  "Hold your friends close, and your enemies closer".   I never told them I disapproved, but I would have them invite their gfs over.  Often.  We had chummy talks over pizza and sodas,  went shopping, etc.  Usually wouldn't last very long. :)

Twik

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If my two had girlfriends that I "disapproved" of, I used "The Godfather" method:  "Hold your friends close, and your enemies closer".   I never told them I disapproved, but I would have them invite their gfs over.  Often.  We had chummy talks over pizza and sodas,  went shopping, etc.  Usually wouldn't last very long. :)

Wise, that.
My cousin's memoir of love and loneliness while raising a child with multiple disabilities will be out on Amazon soon! Know the Night, by Maria Mutch, has been called "full of hope, light, and companionship for surviving the small hours of the night."

Reason

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If the children are old enough to have relationships, their choices are not really up for parental scrutiny. Unless there is violence involved, I would say nothing.

MayHug

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My daughter was 21 and engaged to be married.  We had deposits down on everything, dress was purchased. Wedding was three months away.  They were both in college together about three hours away. She brought him home one weekend ( not the first time) and I began seeing some things I didn't like. She would go quiet around him (not my daughters normal personality) . He would get angry if she was further then just a few feet away from him.

I asked her that night if she would get up early and go to breakfast with me. They were not sharing a room (their choice) . So we got up, went to breakfast and I had the hardest conversation of my life when I looked her in the eye and asked her if she was sure this was what she wanted. She broke down crying and said no, but that we had already spent so much money and had non refundable deposits and she was afraid of disappointing us! We had a long talk. She went home and broke it off.

That was 6 years ago, she is now very happily married to a great guy and has a precious little boy.

I would never have asked her if I hadn't seen things that made my antenna stand up. She's never said he was abusive but has alluded to it. So, I wouldn't say anything unless you see some warning signs. And I think it depends on what kind of relationship you have with your daughter.

It's become a family joke now, don't let mom take you to breakfast!

Betelnut

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My coworker's fourteen year-old son was getting very sexual texts and emails from his fourteen year-old girlfriend.  He was told that he couldn't see her anymore and his cell phone usage was restricted (confiscated after 9:00 p.m.)  I think that is appropriate due to the age of the teens.
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UpdatedName

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Just don't do what my mom did. Drag a daughter by her hair on the school grounds because of her choice of boyfriends.  ::) Yeah, my mom acted with all kinds of crazy during that relatinoship.