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?