What should you do if you dislike your child’s choice of partner? A parent contacted FamilyPoint for advice believing that their daughter was making bad life decisions because of her boyfriend. Check out our advice in this week’s A Problem Shared.
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My husband and I disapprove of our daughter’s boyfriend. She’s changed so much since she has started going out with him to the point where she now wants to drop her AS levels and do a BTEC. It’s hard to explain, I feel the boy is using her and she just can’t see it.
Thank you for getting in touch with FamilyPoint. I’m sorry to hear that you and your husband disapprove of your daughter’s boyfriend, and that you feel that she’s changed since their relationship started. It must be a difficult situation for all of you.
Understand her decisions
It’s understandable that you’re concerned at what appears to be a change in her study plans, and that you make a connection between this and her relationship. The decision to drop her AS levels in favour of a BTEC is a big one. Has your daughter received any advice or guidance from her teachers or tutors on this matter? If she hasn’t, you might want to speak to her about arranging a meeting with staff to discuss this decision and how best she can be supported with her studies going forward.
It’s possible that your daughter has changed her mind of her own accord and that her boyfriend, at most, has encouraged her to pursue her choice. A meeting with her and the school or college staff might help to get to the root of why she wants to change course.
Your daughter might be reluctant for you to meet with staff. You might want to gently point out that she is still under your care and that, as her parent, you want to be involved in any discussions around her education. If a meeting is arranged, it might be helpful to try and agree on the things you want to discuss in the meeting. Everyone will know what to expect and it may help to reduce any upset or conflict that could arise from talking about sensitive issues.
Respect her choices
You mentioned that you and your husband disapprove of your daughter’s boyfriend. I imagine this must be stressful for all three of you. Your daughter is at an age where she is forming her own identity and wants to make her own decisions. It is very common for young people to reject their parents’ views on things like friendships, boyfriends or girlfriends, how they dress, etc. in favour of their own preferences. Showing disapproval of their choices, though understandable from your point of view, can sometimes make a young person more determined to stick to these choices, even if they know on some level that it might not be in their interest.
Explaining your concerns as a parent and emphasising that you respect her right to make choices can be more effective. Tell her you’ll be there to support her if she has any difficulties. Young people are generally more likely to consider what’s best for them if they have the space to make and learn from their mistakes.
Communicating with teenagers about sensitive issues can be tricky at the best of times; you might find Family Lives useful. They have information, advice and support for parents. Check out their page dealing with communicating with teens.
Be there for her
It’s understandable that you’re worried if you think he might be using your daughter. Perhaps you could let her know that you want the best for her as her parents. Tell her that her happiness is very important to you and that you would like some reassurance from her that she is happy in her current relationship. If the tells you that she is, you might want to accept this at face value. Let her know that if her feelings change, and she wants to talk to you about anything, then you’ll be there for her.
If you do get a sense that he is using her in some way, you could discuss his actions and explore with her how they make her feel. This will work better than telling her what you think about it. This approach is more likely to empower her rather than make her stick rigidly to a choice she’s made in defiance of her parents.
If you sense that your daughter would like to speak to someone about any of these matters then tell her about Meic. Meic is a helpline that offers information, advice and advocacy to children and young people up to 25 years old in Wales. They encourage young people to identify any difficulties they might be experiencing, and explore the things they can do to stop, start or change the situation. Their website has some great articles and resources for children and young people.
We hope that this advice has given you some ideas about how best to approach the situation.
Wishing you all the best
The FamilyPoint team
If you would like further information on national or local support services, then you can contact us at FamilyPoint Cymru via phone 0300 222 57 57, text 07860 052 905, or IM/Chat. We are open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm.
A Problem Shared… is your space to share both your problems and your advice with the FamilyPoint community.
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