Sunday, June 30, 2013

What To Do When Your Daughter is Dating a Loser

My friend Jess’s nineteen year-old daughter has been dating this boy for two years. Jess and her husband have never been fond of this boy who they describe as lazy and a loser. They were hoping their smart, beautiful daughter would find a new boyfriend when she was away at college last year, but that didn’t happen. She is now home for the summer and spends all her free time with her boyfriend. This is causing problems at home. When Jess would not allow her daughter to attend an out-of-state family reunion with her boyfriend after their own family vacation was cancelled Jess’s daughter spent the entire weekend sulking in her room. Jess and her husband plan on sitting their daughter down and demanding she break-up with him. They plan on telling her she is too good for him, she’s wasting her time and he’s a loser. Her question for me was when should this conversation take place. Now, before the 4th of July holiday or to wait until right before her daughter returns to school. Her concern is if she has this conversation now it will ruin her family’s summer because her daughter will be impossible to live with, but if she waits she will have to continue watching her daughter be smitten with this boy for the rest of the summer.

My recommendation:

Don’t have this conversation at all. Your daughter is not going to listen to you. You mentioned your daughter’s high school friends held an intervention with her. They told your daughter they didn’t like her boyfriend and suggested she break-up with him. What did your daughter do? She stopped being friends with these girls. She is going to do the same thing with you. She will stop confiding in you and start sneaking around behind your back. She is nineteen, an adult. She could even do something crazy like move out, quit school or get married. She has a promise ring.

I think you should invite your daughter’s boyfriend into your home from time to time. Try to understand what your daughter sees in him. You didn’t mention if he was abusive in any way or controlling. Just that she is too young, this is the first boy she’s dated and that she spends too much time with him. I would play that angle. Encourage her to make new girl friends especially at school, to try everything, even things her boyfriend doesn’t like to do. One of my biggest regrets is not discovering who I was and trying new things when I was younger. She needs to tire or grow out of her boyfriend on her own.

Our other friend suggested Jess make sure her daughter does not get pregnant. Jess said her daughter is on the pill, for cramps though. She is sure her daughter is not having sex.

I came home and told my husband about Jess’s dilemma. Once again he disagrees with me. If this were his daughter, he would sit her down and tell her she is too young to date just one boy. End of story.

Have you ever not approved of someone your child was dating? What did you do? Or from the other angle - Did your parents ever disapprove of someone you were dating? Did they talk to you about it? What did you do?

If you enjoyed this post you may also like:
Know Your Limits and Learn to Say No
Drinking Buddies are Not Real Friends
Will I Be Pretty



  1. Savvy, you are right, and your husband is wrong, wrong, wrong - altho 99% of dads would agree withhim.

    In most states she can just marry the loser, andthen things are much worse. An acquaintance of ours had the same problem. Her daughter had dated an inappropriate guy for five or six years - thru her freshman year. Mid-way thru her sophomore year he started getting jealous of her college activities and new friends. He finally started down the "it's me or them" road and she chose "them".

    Your friend should absolutely try to get the girl to make new college friwnds and get involved in campus activities, with no aspersions cast on him. We all know they will grow apart, so if the parents can just keep nudging her toward growth and delay marriage, hopefully the growth spurt will happen before she is too committed.

    Giving ultamatums will only make it worse.

  2. You don't say that he's a dangerous person - just that her parents think she could do better. So all I have to say to that is...she's 19. It's really not up to her parents (though they will argue they still pay her bills) to decide who she loves. And actually, you want your kids to figure things out for themselves or they never learn to make good decisions on their own.

    My sister married the guy that my mother wasn't crazy about. He didn't go to college (my Mom was a PhD) and he didn't work to entertain my mom during gatherings - which could have easily turned her in his favor. Fifteen years on, my mom is in a dementia unit and he won't even go see her. The hurt doesn't go away -even it I think sometimes he should get over it, it's harder than it sounds.

    Flip side, I met a guy aged 19 who wasn't "right" for me - he was 27, divorced, and had a three year old. Things fell apart as they do but we always thought well of each other just the same. I finished college and went on to marry two guys who looked "right" but were really, really wrong. Two years ago, I got back together with the 27 year old - now 49, and we got married last month. I've never been happier. My mom, in her dementia unit, has no idea.

  3. Hi Savy, I sometimes think that the guys who date my daughters will never good enough because my babies must date prince charming and live happily ever after. Unfortunately the reality of it is there is no prince charming or happily ever after.

    I think, as parents we need to accept our children's choice, embrace them and welcome them into the family.

    I don't want to put up walls between me and my daughters. We all need to get along.

    Bye for now, Darlene

  4. My mother hated my boyfriend. We're working on 41 years. Did she ever like him? She actually did and I thnk became more fond of him than me. Fear can make parents scared. As a mother of three daughters, yes they do get smitten with losers, at least two of my daughters did. They both got dumped, so they never learned how bad these guys were for them on their own. No advice because the daughter is an adult. I wonder if she keeps in contact with the boy while in school or is he just a summer thing for her? Enjoy Sharefest. You gave some good advice BTW.

  5. That's a very complicated situation, and usually I don't think the parents can say much. They can certainly have a conversation and gently share how they feel but then it's up to the daughter. And if they want her in their life, they need to embrace the relationship once they've said their piece and not say any more. Ever. If that's her choice, they have to make the best of it. And who knows, maybe the guy isn't as bad as they think.

  6. I think when you give your kids ultimatums, it may drive her to do exactly what her parents don't want. Sometimes kids have to figure it out for themselves. My parents didn't like some of the boys I dated and when they pushed me to not date the "bad boys," it just made things worse. I would have figured out they were losers earlier on my own. It's interesting though that she pushed her friends away too for not liking him...that would make me a little nervous (and makes me think the parents are on to something).

  7. I remember when I was young and dating, I had the mistaken belief if I was involved with a young man for a certain amount of time, I was to do what was expected: make the relationship work - be true to that one relationship above and beyond everything else.

    I believe I learned this unconsciously from the modeling I saw around me.

    The daughter may think she is doing what she is supposed to be doing, what is expected of her. In her subconscious she may think she is "doing the right thing" by being loyal to her boyfriend.

    Has she ever pulled the "I am an adult, I know what I'm doing and you can't control me" card? I would hope for a continued alliance with the daughter rather than creating barricades to relationship.

    Very thought provoking!

  8. Webb,
    I like your nudging idea. I was actually kind of surprised she didn't make more friends last year. Perhaps she needs need a little nudge to do more than study and come home every other weekend.

  9. Heidi,
    I think Darlene is right we all want our daughters to find Prince Charming, but he doesn't exist. Actually now that I think about it the riff I currently have stems from my Dad not wanting me to date a boy when I was 16.

    I did tell Jess that this boy may someday be the father of her grandchildren and that she would be upset if she didn't have a relationship with them because of her feelings now. Like your brother-in-law he may never forgive them.

    And I've been following your story. Congratulations on your recent wedding. Funny how things work out. What a letter to your 19 year-old self.

  10. Darlene,
    So true. No one is perfect and we need to support our children in their decisions. I kind of wonder if Jess would be happy with any boy right now. I think she wants her little girl back.

  11. Sheila,
    I've met several women who’ve been married 20 years + whose parents hated their husband way back when. They even told them this will never work. I guess the boy being young hadn’t had an opportunity to prove himself yet and the parents weren’t ready to admit their baby girl was grown up.

  12. Homemaker's Daily,
    At some point we have to accept our children's decisions and support them regardless.

  13. Michelle,
    Ah interesting point about her pushing her friends away. Plus she didn't make any new friends at college. I find that odd. Your freshman year everyone is looking to make new friends because they don't know very many people.

  14. Julie Jordan Scott,
    I had that belief too. Perhaps this girl with her promise ring feels the same way.

  15. Anonymous5:24 AM

    My 19 year old daughter met a a guy 2 years ago at a party from the next day they started living together and never been a part. Now while this young man is respectful to us. He is so lazy he hasn't worked in 1.5 years and the 6 months he did have a job was because my brother gave him a job but could handle how lazy hr was and layed him off. She fully supports him. He receives not financial help from the government and completely relies on her. She is constantly struggling financially and hardly has any food or fuel. She is aware on how we feel but she loves him and her excuse is shes not going to break it off just because his unemployed. Help I don't know how to help her when she's so blinded by him. She admits his lazy and she's over struggling but it's not enough for her to get rid of him. How do I do this.

  16. In all honesty, you most likely will not be able to convince her to leave him because he is lazy. How does he treat her? If he abuses her in any way do whatever it takes to get her out of the situation. If he doesn't you are better off just letting her be. I know a couple who insisted their daughter break up with her boyfriend. She was living at home, so they took her car and phone away from her until she did so. Guess what? They don't like her new boyfriend either. I wouldn't give her any financial support what so ever, so that she can see what her life is going to be like with this guy. If she broaches the idea of moving home embrace it, but convincing her to break up with him probably isn't going to work. On another note and one that will be painful for her to learn you can't make someone that doesn't want to work - work. Especially when they are being supported by their girlfriend.

    Also, the daughter in the above scenario is still dating her boyfriend.