Friday, September 11, 2009

My parents hate my boyfriend.

Dear Mom,

My parents hate my boyfriend. Whenever he comes over my mom gives him the third degree; you know, how's the job, the grades, your life? My dad does the same thing, only he's a lot quieter and likes to glare at him. I feel as if they don't think he's good enough for me or something. What should I do?



Dear Bothered,

You might be right about your boyfriend not being good enough for you in the eyes of your parents. This fact rings especially true if you are the oldest child. And it doesn't help that you're a girl.

Parents tend to be more overprotective with their oldest child. And for some reason, being a girl only makes the matter worse. It took me having a second and third girl to mellow a bit and realize that my strict behavior with my first often shut the door to potential conversations both with her and those whom she dated.

That said, your parents want to know about your boyfriend so they will feel more secure about you dating him. If something creeps up in a conversation-he says something like, "I hate my job, it sucks," your parents may be inclined to ask even more questions on this subject because they are wondering how motivated your boyfriend is. If you become real serious, the last thing they want for their daughter is for her to be hooked up with some "loser" who can't hold a job.

This is not to say, however, that your boyfriend's job always needs to be exciting and that he always have to "like it," but your parents, whether you are their first-born or their third, are going to be concerned about someone who "appears" to lack motivation.

Another problem may arise with parents who see a huge age gap between you and your boyfriend. If this is the case with you, be assured that this would give your parents cause to worry. Say you are 20, just beginning college, and your boyfriend is 27. Seven years is a big gap, not only in levels of maturity but interests and attitude. And let's say your boyfriend is considering dropping out of college because "book work" just isn't for him.

Does this make him a loser?

Of course not. But it might be something you'll want to take a look at.

It may be that your parents don't like your boyfriend because he reminds them of someone else, maybe someone they dated whom they consider a mistake. They see similarities between the choice you are currently making, and the choice they made. They don't want you to go through what they had to go through. They are trying to protect you.

Take a look at their concerns. Talk to them. Express your feelings and don't leave your boyfriend out of the loop. He needs to be involved in understanding where your parents are coming from. They also need to understand his feelings.

You can be the catalyst for change. Invite your boyfriend to dinner. Invite him to join in some of your family activities. Talk to your parents about your concerns regarding their treatment of your boyfriend. Perhaps they like him after all-surprise! They are merely interested in learning more about him. But whatever the case, be respectful of your parents' views and in-turn, their hearts may soften.

If not, you will know you have done all you can. Though it's nice to have the support, it feels nice when your parents are positive about your choices in life, in the end, the decision of who you choose to spend your time with is yours.



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