When You Don’t Approve of Your Adult Child’s Relationship
“What does she see in that guy?”
The woman talking with me is more than a little upset. In fact, she is beside herself with worry and disapproval.
“He’s not at all like any of her other boyfriends. He barely says hello when he’s with us. He’s just plain rude. He doesn’t have an education or a trade. His own family doesn’t seem to want much to do with him. Yet she swears he is the love of her life and she defends him!”
A father is very upset with his son’s choice of partner. “We have always emphasized how important it is that he marry someone of our faith. Yet he’s serious about a girl from another country and culture. Doesn’t he understand that he is separating himself from her family and our values? We can’t possibly approve. We want him to stop seeing her and find a girl who is appropriate.”
Ah. Love and romance. If only it were sensible. Sometimes it is. Often it’s not. When young people are crazy in love, it can seem really crazy to the adults around them. At times, it can seem like the biggest mistake your child could make. At times, it can threaten the very fabric of family life and the larger family culture. When that happens, parents are challenged to the depths of their souls. Is your love for your child bigger or smaller than your commitment to an opinion, a belief or value system? Is your child’s choice so disappointing or contrary to how you brought them up that you can’t find a way to make peace with it? It’s not an easy matter.
You want your adult child to be happy and safe. You don’t see how the object of his affection can possibly provide that. Your hope is that your disapproval will bring your child to his senses. You believe that your anger, disappointment and obvious dislike will change your kid’s mind. It probably won’t.
Forcing an adult child to make the choice between the parents who raised him and the person he loves always ends badly. Cutting off the child will only cut you off from the wheel of life.
You won’t get to see him develop into his adult self. You won’t be able to be there to comfort him in the hard times or to celebrate with him in the good. You won’t know your grandchildren. You won’t have someone who knows who you are to care about what happens to you when you are sick or old. Does all that really outweigh the fact that you think the choice is misguided?