What should I do if I don't approve of my teen's boyfriend or girlfriend?
Real Mom Problem
“My daughter's friends are falling by the wayside as she spends most of her free time with this boy. I don't know whether his bad rep is undeserved or whether he is toxic for her and we should step in.”
- 1. Discuss with your teen the behaviors you don't approve of and why they concern you
- 2. Boost your teen's self-esteem in order to help them make positive choices
- 3. Model a healthy relationship for your teen
- 4. Set boundaries regarding the time your teen spends with their mate
- 5. Consider putting your foot down when there are behaviors that are unhealthy or illegal
Real Mom Solutions
Dealing with teens and dating can be hard enough, but what happens when you don't approve of your teen's choice? Read on for great mom-to-mom advice on how to handle a boyfriend or girlfriend that you just don't like.
Don't Criticize Your Teen's Choice
I have found that it is never helpful to say anything negative about the guy because that only prompts your daughter to defend him, and puts those defensive arguments in her mind. You can point out lots of things about relationships in general. What they should be like. What healthy relationships look like. You can point out dysfunctional things in other people's relationships. You can get her thinking about what she should look for in a partner. But stop there, and don't attack the boy. If there is certain behavior that he has that crosses the line, you can carefully address the behavior. And when she's upset at him, just hug her and say you understand. Don't take the opportunity to attack. If you are modeling a good relationship, and she was raised better, she will come to her senses. And take heart because it can be a good learning experience. The odds are with you. Most teenage relationships are not permanent and run their course.
You may not like him, but unless he treats her badly and/or is disrespectful to you, don't say anything. If your daughter fancies herself in love, she will defend him to the ends of the earth. I would just try to maintain a strong bond with her. The last thing you want is to push her away....and closer to him. Don't say anything negative about her boyfriend, and remember that the important thing is she is happy. She is young and will likely kiss a few toads before finding her prince.
Explain Your Concerns
Discussing what behaviors you see that give you concern, and why it concerns you, still leaving it completely in her court to agree or disagree, see the boy or not, and to tell you why these things aren't a problem in her view, and debate the issues, helps your kid think through her views and ponder yours (as long as he's not over the line, doing illegal stuff, skipping school, or failing classes, in which case I have no problem banning the relationship and making it harder for them to get together). She may not admit it at the time of the conversation, but it seeps in. Exchange of views is so essential in turning an adolescent into a solid adult.
I just told my girls often: Don't fall for the crap the boys will dish out like "if you love me you will". If they really care about you they will never force you. I just drilled it in their head and thankfully they listened. Some girls are attracted to the bad boys their whole life, and some just in high school. Just keep talking often about how you feel.
Get to Know Your Teen's Mate
I would strongly say - do not criticize the boyfriend. Get to KNOW the boyfriend. My older daughter's first boyfriend - didn't like him so much at first. She was 17, he was 19. She went away to college - and he gave her a promise ring. They moved in together for summers, and last summer when she graduated, they got an apartment for just the two of them. Things were going well - and by then I LOVED the kid! After 4 years "together" they recently broke up, and I can honestly say, I'm really sad about it.
Lots of good girls are attracted to "bad boys". I was! It may be just a phase, or it may be that she simply likes him and the fact that he is "real". As a teen, my parents never understood why I was attracted to the boys in the "rough crowd". I found them so interesting! Their lives were vastly different than mine and I enjoyed my little walks on the wild side. Opposites attract. I can tell you I was treated far better by my "wild" boyfriends than I was by the conceited, spoiled, all-star, honor roll student I briefly dated. Don't judge a book by its cover.
Set Some Boundaries
Our daughter has a tendency to choose those we really don't want her to be with. She is only 15 and for some reason thinks that she needs to have a boyfriend. Her last one led her down a weird road. We have ended up putting her in counseling and at times sit in with her to talk and see what can be done to make our relationship better. We have always been honest with how we feel about the boys and have let her know. We also let her know that no matter who she is with we will treat them well until they give us reason to act differently. We have also been very guarded on the amount of time and what they do together. Luckily they finally broke up. She has since found a great young kid with a lot of respect towards her. So much so that he doesn't hold her hand nor has he kissed her. He does put his arm around her but no holding hands yet!
ONLY time your teen should see her boyfriend is on weekends. No coming and hanging out during the week. If she sees him outside of school during the week, limit that time. When they're at your house they have to stay where they can be seen. Stress the importance of health and pregnancy issues.
He needs to spend time at your home with you all as a family (the more you see of him the less they see of each other alone).
Talk, talk, talk! Communication is key! Lay down some boundaries. Set some limits on how much time she spends with him. Encourage her to spend time with her friends.