Our daughter dated this guy for a couple of years and we had major concerns about him. She was in high school at the time and he was a couple of years older. This was a major source of conflict between her and us during her last two years of high school. It was no secret to him that we disapproved and didn’t agree that she should be with him.They are now engaged and he will be a part of our family.
We still disapprove, but the main issue now is that our daughter doesn’t want us involved in her wedding plans at all. She tells us that since we weren’t supportive, she figured we wouldn’t want to help. We feel she’s punishing us.
We’re not only worried about the wedding, but how to live with the fact that he’s now a part of our family.
I certainly can understand your struggle with your daughter in high school, but now that she’s out on her own and starting her own family, the last thing she needs is your opinion. She already knows how you feel about her fiancé, so driving that point home will only increase the acrimony and distance with her.
Marriage is already hard enough without the constant disapproval of in-laws. The best thing you can do is accept the fact that your days of managing your daughter are over and that it’s time to learn how to build a relationship with her and her soon-to-be husband.
Just because you didn’t approve of him for your then-high school daughter’s choices, it doesn’t mean that you can’t learn to accept him now that he’s going to be a part of your family. I’m not suggesting this will be an easy transition. You may have feelings of resentment and frustration that they didn’t respect your guidance when she was in your home as a teenager. You may not want to give them the satisfaction of knowing that you could ever be OK with their union.
Please consider where your stubborn stance toward this relationship will lead you. Do you want to be right or do you want to have a relationship with them? How about with their future children?
You might even consider sitting down with them and letting them know of the transition you’re working through. Let them know that you recognize how difficult their relationship has been for you as the parent, but that you now recognize how they need support instead of parenting. Show them they have a support system to help them build a strong future together.
If they are terrible for each other and have a rotten marriage, you can still love and support your daughter as she learns these difficult lessons. Our job as parents isn’t about protecting our children from all of their bad decisions. It’s letting them know they have love and support to take risks and learn from their own mistakes.
Your daughter didn’t follow your rules and counsel as a teenager and now you worry about her future. You can’t continue to hold her hostage to the immature and disrespectful actions she took as a teenager. If there are real consequences coming her way as a result of her rebellion, you don’t need to do anything more than let her know she matters to you and you recognize she is living her life the way she wants to. You did your part in teaching her and all you can do is hope the lessons she learned in your home will support her in this next phase of her life.
You may be the only support she has now or in the future. Continue to position yourself so you can be there for her no matter the outcome.
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Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.
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