I Can’t Stand My Daughter’s Boyfriend

Part of growing up is testing the limits of what your parents find acceptable and what they don’t. A bit of rebellion – ok, a lot of rebellion – is to be expected from even the most cooperative child. And, c’mon parents, we know we can be just a teensy bit passive-aggressive when it comes to making and enforcing the rules as well. Still, some aspects of surviving the teen years, for both parents and kids, have nothing at all to do with testing limits, rebellion, or learning to live with a hormonal teenager; they’re just life.

Just as you’ve certainly not always liked everyone you’ve come across, you’re not likely to find that you like everyone your kids come across either. Occasionally, and sometimes more than occasionally, you’ll find that your teen’s friends make your hair stand on end. And, if you’re teen daughter elects to start dating one of those undesirables, you might just want to pull all that hair out!

Teens choose to date who they date for a number of reasons. Your daughter might be attracted to the captain of the football teen, the misunderstood tough guy, the mysterious loner, the class clown, or the always in a fix bad boy. She might react to peer pressure when selecting a date, she might go against the grain and date someone completely different, or she might want a guy with exactly the same values and goals as she has. And, sometimes, just sometimes, she picks a guy you don’t like just to spite you. But, if you’ve lived completely through the teen years with one or more children, you’ve likely noticed that the dates your daughter chooses are a perplexing mix of all of the above.

Ideally, you’d like to see your daughter with a young man who treats her with respect and who isn’t going to break her heart. They’ll be together from the kindergarten through high school, get married, and live happily ever after. You’ll love the guy’s parents and you’ll all gather for the holidays and for the births of the grandchildren. And, if you’re lucky, really lucky, that’s what you’ll get. But, in real-life, it’s almost never that neat.

Chances are your daughter is going to proudly parade for your parental approval at least one guy you absolutely can’t stand. He’ll pick her up for a date and you’ll be faced with gritting your teeth and holding in such comments as “when was the last time you washed your hair/shaved/bathed”, “nice car, is it stolen, or do you deal drugs”, “do you take that leather jacket off when it reaches ninety degrees outside”, and “are you really so proud of your underwear that you have to display them for all to see”. But, hold your tongues mom and dad! There’s a limit to how much your teen will take.

Assuming that your daughter has brokered a boyfriend who she really does like, it’s uncomfortable for everyone involved if you speak too frankly about your feelings for your potential future son-in-law. This isn’t to say that you should be completely mute, just judicial with your criticism. Teens have a strange way of finding themselves drawn to people that their parents don’t like. Highlighting the differences between what you find tolerable and what they find attractive only makes the divide between you and your daughter bigger and harder to bridge.

Yet, complete lip-zipping is never the answer. It’s ok not to like the boy your daughter chooses to date. And, as long as he doesn’t violate any basic rules such as displays of violence, illegal behavior, or drug use, you’re better off keeping your critique constructive, but not too critical. Get too into downgrading the date and you’ll virtually guarantee that your daughter bonds eternally to Mr. Wrong, not so much out of spite, but rather out of a sense of misguided loyalty that nearly all teens are afflicted with.

Short of locking her in a tower until you’ve arranged a suitable marriage for your princess, there isn’t much you can, or should, do if you really dislike the boy your daughter is dating. However, the rules are the rules. If your daughter’s behavior changes as a result of dating the undesirable, you’ve got a lot of leverage as a parent. Avoiding driving your daughter into the welcoming arms of one who might lead her astray does not mean that you should allow her to break curfew, participate in illegal activities, or take drugs. But, do be sure that your daughter feels she can talk to you. There’s nothing worse for a kid than when she feels she’s lost the support of her parents because she’s selected a boyfriend that they hate. She needs to feel that she can count on you no matter how off-base her choices are. Just keep the lines of communication open and your comments to a minimum and you’ll all make it through teen dating just fine.

by McKayla Arnold