Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Part II: What If You Don't Like Your Daughter's Boyfriend?

     A little while ago I asked What If You Don't Like Your Son's Fiancee? A woman who's a friend of mine was planning to visit her son, who lives several hundred miles away. She'd made plans to go for a long weekend and was looking forward to the visit. But then the son's fiancee chimed in that they were too busy -- they're both working; they're getting ready to move; and the fiancee is taking some classes at night -- and suggested that maybe the mother shouldn't make the visit.

     The preponderance of advice I got here was that the mother shouldn't go, that she'd be interfering in the young couple's lives and should leave her son and his fiancee alone. Or if the mother did go, some suggested, she should not stay with the couple, but book into a hotel and not expect to spend too much time with her son and his bride.

     I found out the other day that my friend did go visit her son. She flew down, rented her own car and stayed in motel (as opposed to staying in the couple's apartment.) The visit was a success, at least according to the mother.

     My friend was there for three days, and she got to see her son for the first time since before Christmas. The son had one day off from work; and then they spent time together in the evenings. The mother had to kill several hours hanging out at her hotel, and shopping at a mall, but she was basically okay with that. She even spent a little quality time with the fiancee, and now feels a little better about that relationship.

     The lesson to be learned? I don't know if there is one. But from the perspective of the older generation, I'd say to mothers: don't let your children's spouses, or girlfriends or boyfriends, push you around -- you have a right to maintain a relationship with with your child!

     But that was only Part I of the series. Part II asks: What if you don't like your daughter's boyfriend?

     In this case, another friend of mine has a daughter in her late 20s. The young woman met her boyfriend in dental school in New York. He was a year ahead of her. He graduated and went home to Ohio to work with his father. He's a small-town boy; his family is well-established in the town; and he wants to take over his father's practice.

     The problem? My friend's daughter is from New York. She went to school in New York, and is currently doing a dental internship in Boston. She's used to East coast sophistication. She knows nothing about Ohio, has never been to Ohio; has no desire to live in Ohio. And yet at the end of her internship, in June, the daughter is planning to move to Ohio to be with her boyfriend.

     The young woman has been sending her resume to a number of dental clinics in Ohio, and so far she's only found one job opening -- in a high-volume clinic where she would work odd hours and only part time. There just aren't many opportunities around her boyfriend's hometown, especially for young women.

     In other words, at least according to my friend, his daughter would be compromising her career -- or, in his mind, giving up her career -- to follow her boyfriend. My friend thinks his daughter is nuts. He had one conversation with her, questioning the wisdom of moving to Ohio. But she wants to go; and he didn't want to push the issue for fear of damaging his relationship with his daughter.

     My friend said that he has met the boyfriend and he acknowledges that the young man is polite and personable. But my friend thinks the boyfriend is being selfish by not offering to be more flexible about his own future plans in order to accommodate his daughter. Basically (my friend feels) the young man is giving an ultimatum to his daughter:  I'm staying in my hometown. If you want to be with me, you follow me here, even though there's nothing much for you to do.

     And my friend wonders: Is this true love?

     His daughter will be home for a week after she graduates from dental school in mid-May. He wants to sit her down and have a talk . . . about her future, her career, her feelings for this young man.

       So what do you say: Is my friend being unrealistic? Should he try to encourage his daughter to follow her dreams for a career, rather than follow her boyfriend to Ohio? Should he remind her of all the sacrifices women have made so she could have an opportunity to be a dentist, of all the hard work she did to graduate from dental school, of all the expense of her education that she might be throwing away? Or . . . should he butt out, and let the daughter make up her own mind?


Anonymous said...

One can compromise just so much. New York is not Ohio at all, the differences and the work would be a tie breaker in my book, the dad doesn't have to say much, if someone really loves someone they see their side of the equasion this fellow only sees his side of the equasion..not a good sign, the dad can point out a few differences and keep his opinions to himself, plain and simple the daughter will figure out what she wants to do with the rest of her life and where, plain and simple..

Anonymous said...

I feel for both of these parents. Hope all works out for them.
I am very blessed that both my daughters, despite meeting and marrying men from other parts of the country, all settled down in New York City, which is where we are all from.
But I know, at any time, anyone can be offered a job somewhere else. And off they go.
Good luck to all. I trust it will all work out.

Olga Hebert said...

She is an adult capable of totally screwing up her own life. If he puts her in a position of defending her love, all will be lost. I would talk about how much I admired his strong sense of place, how it must be wonderful to be a part of such a close knit family and community, how refreshing to have small town values and (maybe) politics, blah, blah, blah. Instead of having to defend him she can start to focus on her own values and maybe evaluate their importance or lack there of in the relationship

Anonymous said...

What if you don't like your granddaughter's boyfriend. Better say nothing I think.
Our children and grand children are not ours. Like you and me they must make their own mistakes.

Linda Myers said...

I sometimes say, "I have an opinion on this issue. If you'd like to hear it, let me know."

Sometimes it's yes, other times not.

Stephen Hayes said...

At least the guy is being very honest about taking over his dad's practice in Ohio. It would be wrong if he deceived her about his future plans.

DJan said...

I agree that our children must make their own decisions (and mistakes), although I understand his desire to give her his take on all this. If it were me, I'd wait until I thought she was receptive (i.e., after a glass of wine) and then venture an opinion, making sure Daughter knows I'd butt out if she wants me to. :-)

Janette said...

I learned very early on (in high school) to never downplay a SO to the person in love. Sadly, if the relationship continues, they might never believe that you like them. In turn you may never see your grandchildren or your child. I have several friends who would rather eat dirt then see their in laws.

Ultimately, it is her decision.

The mother with the son? Smart woman. My son married such a young woman. I get it- I am not inside her bubble. That is ok. She is a wonderful woman,wife - and now mother. My son is happy. What else can I really ask? Because I am careful, our relationship continues to do well.
BUT, we are moving closer to our daughter's family because we know that both of them are interested in us being and extended family. We will see son's family when they want to see us. It is fine- we love them all and know that they love us. It isn't good or bad- it is simply different.

Anonymous said...

Let your children come to you instead of the other way around. I don't force any issue with mine.

Marc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
denise said...

The boyfriend has not offered his girlfriend a chair in the family practice?

pia said...

If he or his father haven't offered her a position and she's still OK with going I would imagine both of them are going to spend a year or so waiting to see if the relationship will work.

I only knew NY and Boston when I moved to the South. It took me five years to appreciate a wonderful place that isn't "sophisticated," but I was much older and much more used to my life

Anonymous said...

As a parent I would give her my advice as unemotionally as possible, and then of course let her decide. It may be a difficult and painful lesson for her to learn but it can't be helped.

It's a shame that so many women have given up college and/or fulfilling careers for the man in their life. You don't hear about the man doing this for the woman much. I'm tired of the archaic idea of the girl following the boy...

With more women graduating from college than men now, I think things will change.

Dick Klade said...

Dad should be cautious. If he announces the meeting as one to satisfy his curiosity about her future and lets her do the talking, that's OK. If he tries to impose his thoughts about what his adult daughter should do, unless she asks, he's probably going to create more trouble than good. Whatever she decides, he should back her with unconditional love.

Susan R said...

I think what Olga said is a great start for their conversation and makes it easy for them to then talk about how the daughter feels about learning to live in such a different place, with limited job opportunities and so far from her family.

Anonymous said...

I fully understand his concern for his daughter but what if the scenerio were vice versa and his daughter's boyfriend's family were to have an established business in New York while the daughter were from Ohio but has never been to NY, would his concerns still be same?
i feel that i they truly love each other, her relocation to Ohio may well turn out to be a fruitful adventure for her. And who says the business may not expand, even to NY, in the nearest future?
My advice is for the father not to impose his ideas (or fears) on his daughter but give her and her boyfriend full support, thank God the boyfriend is polite and personable.