HELP! I CAN’T STAND MY DAUGHTER’S BOYFRIEND
Put Your Differences Aside and Be There For Your Daughter.
By Angela Guzman
Guess what, you’re not alone! You’re definitely not the first and will not be the last person to dislike their daughter’s boyfriend.
Deborah J. Cohan, Ph.D. said, “As a college professor, it is amazing how often students sit in my office and tell me that they anticipate that their parents will not approve of whom they are dating or that they are already aware that their parents do not like who they are dating, often leaving them feeling increasingly isolated and torn between family and peers.”
Before you vocalize your disapproval, check-in with yourself, and determine if the issue is a ‘you’ problem or a ‘them’ problem. If it’s a ‘you’ problem, then odds are you won’t like 8 out of 10 boyfriends your daughter dates – which indicates that you should do some reflective work for yourself. However, if you determine it’s a ‘them’ problem, you’ll need to identify legitimate reasons why your daughter’s boyfriend is potentially dangerous and/or unstable.
First things first, let’s get to the bottom of your disapproval. Answer these questions honestly.
1. Are you judging your daughter’s new boyfriend based solely on appearances?
Maybe you’re not keen on tattoos, a certain style of clothing, cursing, or a genre of music.
2. Are you comparing your daughter’s boyfriend to a previous boyfriend she had? Or are you comparing your daughter’s boyfriend to anyone else?
Sometimes parents compare a daughter’s boyfriend to another sibling’s boyfriend.
3. Is your dislike based on one or two brief conversations?
A brief conversation usually lasts a few minutes or entails limited direct conversing.
4. Are you judging your daughter’s boyfriend on “he said she said” gossip that you heard from a third party?
People gossip verbally and on social media.
5. Are you placing your daughter’s insecurities on her boyfriend?
Sometimes we expect people to fill in the gaps for the insecurities we possess.
If the majority of your responses were yes, then it sounds like you have a ‘you’ problem. You’ll need to look within and do some work. It’s unfair to judge someone solely on their appearances or a few short conversations. As the parent, it’s important to take the time to give your daughter’s boyfriend a fair shot. If you decide to write him off as a bad egg, your daughter will feel isolated and resent you for your unfair judgment.
Don’t rely on your daughter or hearsay. Invest in conversations and be open to the idea of having an open mind. While your daughter may not initially appreciate your effort, she will eventually see your efforts and appreciate the growth mind you’re executing.
In the meantime, until you have your issues resolved, here is what you can do to handle and appropriately address the dislike for your daughter’s boyfriend:
Talk openly and honestly.
Commit to having conversations with your daughter and her boyfriend. These should be organic and shouldn’t be scheduled events. Without being passively aggressive, discuss the issues you have and list the reasons why you feel a certain way. Promise yourself that you will remain calm, no matter how much you disagree. Be open to hearing their opinion and put yourself in their shoes. Sometimes discussing our feelings and opinions can help us identify other valid points that we should consider.
However, if you feel like their point is inappropriate or not in agreeance with your morals and ethics, your daughter will be present for the conversation and have the ability to process her own thoughts. If her boyfriend has opposing values, she’ll be able to address her concerns with your support. You raised her and need to be confident that you taught her morals and ethics.
Talking with the boyfriend alone could create a potential, ‘he said she said’ situation, and this can create rifts and other elements of dismay to arise.
Set boundaries and voice your issues.
If you feel disrespected or believe your daughter’s boyfriend possesses different opinions, voice your concerns, and address the issue. For example, maybe you don’t discuss politics due to the conflicting nature of opinions, and your daughter’s boyfriend constantly talks about politics in your space. Set the precedence early on and explain why you would rather not have those conversations in your household and/or presence.
Not speaking up or not addressing the concern will only perpetuate behavior and actions you do not agree with. Give your daughter’s boyfriend the opportunity to maturely react to what’s offending you. People are sometimes oblivious to their wrongdoings, and talking about these issues may help everyone get on the same page.
Talk about your concerns with your daughter.
Plan your conversation, and do not be combative. You shouldn’t create a long list of the reasons why you dislike her boyfriend. Instead of creating a negative environment try to level the ground by choosing a space to chat that’s neutral (outside or over coffee or ice cream), talk away from other people (siblings do not need to be drawn into the conversation), share positivity by making it a point to highlight/praise things your daughter has done recently, and be open-minded.
Nonetheless, do not limit your conversation to one discussion. Be intentional and continue the conversation – this way, you’re being proactive and not reactive to your daughter’s dating situation. If you only make a point to chat when you disagree with her relationship, then she may feel like you’re attacking her.
Your daughter’s dating life is never going to be easy. You will witness heartbreaks, fights, frustration, tears, and confusion. As a parent, it’s imperative that you stay levelheaded and be the constant in your daughter’s life.