Three years ago, I watched my son fall in love for the first time. I could tell something was going on with him; he was dressing up a bit more and wanted to get cologne, and I could hear the low murmur of his voice each night behind his closed bedroom door.
Of course, I had a strong feeling about what was going on. There’s nothing like being a teenager in love; I remember those days. The more I asked him about it, the less he wanted to say. That’s when I tried (with every ounce of strength) to stop bothering him with my questions.
The more questions I asked my teens about their new relationships the less they wanted to talk to me. (Shutterstock: DavideAngelini)
There are so many times, for me anyway, when my kids will come around if I give them the time and space to talk to me when they are ready. This doesn’t go for everything of course, but when it comes to their love life or other situations that aren’t dangerous, I’ve learned it’s best for everyone if I take a step back.
Is it hard? Yes. Very. But sometimes I need to remind myself that my kids’ private life isn’t about me. It’s about them and what they are comfortable with. And they need to make their own mistakes just like I made mine. I need to give them the space to figure things out for themselves.
So, when my son finally came around and started talking to me about his girlfriend, I was so happy he was sharing her with me. It was a few months before I met her, but when I did I liked her. He’s my firstborn and my first child that had a partner. I wondered if I’d feel protective or like she wasn’t what I had in mind. And I was relieved when I fell in love with her.
I thought my son would also be relieved I liked her so much, but that wasn’t the case. I’d rave about her, tell him how I loved that she was getting him to try new things he’d never seemed interested in before, like fishing and canoeing. She even got him to try new foods.
I was over the moon when she reached out to me for his birthday and graduation and helped me plan his parties. Not only did I fall in love with her, our entire family did. And for the time they were together, we all had fun.
I see now that I came on too strong and got too involved in their relationship because when my son ended things because he didn’t want to be tied down at such a young age, he didn’t tell me. I knew the decision wasn’t easy for him. He’d graduated, and she was still in high school, and he missed hanging out with his friends and just wanted to move on.
He didn’t tell me any of this right away, of course. It took months of me asking him what was wrong. I knew he was sad and a bit withdrawn. I came to find out that he was afraid to tell me they broke up because he knew how much I liked her.
I assured him that he was my priority and his happiness mattered to me more than anything, and I never wanted him to feel like he couldn’t come to me. Who knew that raving about his girlfriend would make him shut down? But I learned a valuable lesson from that experience.
I certainly won’t not tell my kids that I like who they are dating. But I will tone it down a little and not make them feel like if they end things, I will be disappointed.
And on the other hand, after my son’s breakup, my daughter started dating a guy I didn’t care for. I mean, he was okay, but I noticed a few things I didn’t love. I never told her how I felt because she was happy, and he didn’t mistreat her (if he had, I definitely would have said something). But it was almost impossible to hide my feelings. My daughter knows me well, so it was obvious that deep down, she knew.
It was hard for me to keep my mouth closed, especially since he spent much time at our house. Sometimes, I wanted to say something when she talked about him, and as hard as I tried to act like I liked him, I wasn’t believable.
But I knew if I told her I wasn’t a fan, it would only cause more harm. And I didn’t want my opinion about my daughter’s boyfriend to interfere with my relationship with my daughter. We parents must remember that when we insert our opinions about our kids’ boyfriend or girlfriend, they never forget. Never. It took a lot of strength to zip my lips.
I’ve learned it’s best to stay a bit more neutral. Of course, I’ll always voice my opinion if I have a strong one—I’m not about to sit back and watch a partner mistreat my children. I don’t have to come on too strong, too fast. I will, however, continue to remind my kids that their happiness is the most important thing to me.
It can feel impossible not to say how we feel about our kids’ boyfriends or girlfriends, but I’ve learned my lesson. Zipping your lips and letting life unfold as it will is usually the best for everyone.
The author of this post wishes to remain anonymous.
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