What if My Parents Don't Approve of My BF/GF?
Finding someone you love who loves you in return can be difficult. Then learning how to deal with conflicts within a relationship can be painful, as well. But there is an entire additional level of stress when, for some reason, you discover your parent(s) disapprove of the person you are dating.
This can make any dating relationship difficult and put a strain on your home life.
When you discover your parents strongly disapprove of your bf/gf, your first inclination will be to pull away from them and continue your dating relationship behind their back. This doesn't do anybody any good. Never secretly date someone your parents don't want you to date. Having secrets and lies between you and your parents ruins trust and causes needless stress and drama which will affect your self-esteem, grades, and even your other friends.
Just Because You Disagree Doesn't Make Your Parents Dumb
Just because they are your parents and you don't agree with them, that doesn't make them dumb. Although far from perfect, they have years of experience and wisdom that you don't have yet. This might enable them to see the character faults in your bf/gf a whole lot easier than you, especially if you're blinded by the deep emotions you feel for your bf/gf. It is worth pushing pause on your anger and emotions and considering whether your parents may be right. They have the advantage of perspective...they realize over 90% of high school dating ends up not working out. Parents remember their own good and bad choices while dating. They just want you to be protected from bad consequences that could affect the rest of your life.
The fact of the matter is, that most people spend very little time researching and getting to know the other person before they start dating them. They just jump into the relationship. Many parents' fears are well-founded. They have fears of unwanted pregnancy, date rape, drug use, physical abuse, or simply having their children get a needless and unnecessary broken heart.
What Are the Signs of a Toxic Relationship With Parents?
First of all, just because your parents don’t like who you’re dating doesn’t mean they’re toxic. It’s okay for them to have concerns–they love you, and they want your life to be easy and fulfilling. However, it’s pretty common for toxic parents to be hard to please, and if you’re working to address some conflict with them over your romantic partner, but they’re being unreasonable, there might be some toxicity in the family.
How do you know if your parents are toxic? Common signs of toxic parents are:
- They overreact or often have surprising, loud, large, or out-of-control emotional reactions.
- They think about everything in relation to themselves. For example, they might ask, “How could you do this to me?” about things that have nothing to do with them. They may also have a hard time with empathy for your feelings and experiences.
- They treat you as a main source of their emotional support, even if you’ve asked them not to, and even if they need support for things it’s inappropriate for them to talk to their child about.
- They don’t respect your boundaries. If you live with them, they go through your phone or diary, they don’t knock before they enter your room or the bathroom, or they tell your siblings things you said in confidence. If you don’t live with them, they call you constantly despite knowing your work schedule, or they show up at your home without asking first.
- They’re controlling. They use manipulation to get you to do what they want—guilt, money, the silent treatment, withholding love, etc.
- They’re extremely critical. They are never happy with what you do. If you get an A-, why wasn’t it an A+? If you get into college, why didn’t you get a full scholarship? If your team won a game, why weren’t you the top scorer? If you picked up your brother from school, why didn’t you feed him dinner? If you come home for Christmas, why aren’t you staying longer?
If you think you and your parents may have a toxic dynamic, the first thing you need to realize is that you cannot change them. They are who they are, and you can only change how you cope with and relate to them. A licensed therapist can help you figure out how to negotiate healthy boundaries with folks who aren’t necessarily going to respect those boundaries, so seek out counseling to address difficult family dynamics.
What Do Others Say?
Carolyn commented that her response to her parents' dislike of her boyfriend was to ask other people what they thought. They [my parents] said he lied, cheated, and I shouldn't be involved with him. They also said he pushed me around too much. So I thought about what they said and talked to more people. The more people I talked to, nobody wanted us together. It wasn't just my parents. Chances are, your parents have more wisdom than you do and it's a good idea to take their advice.
Solomon, the man God blessed with the greatest wisdom in the Bible, said something very similar. He said, "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed." Proverbs 15:22 He also went on to say, "A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash." Proverbs 15:14
Be wise here. Search for knowledge about your bf/gf from many people, including your parents, and take their advice seriously.
Tips for Having a Successful Conversation With Your Parents
The best thing you can do is to sit down with your parents and calmly, with great respect, ask what it is they don't like about your bf/gf and what you can do to lessen their fears and objections. Another question you could ask them is, "What should my bf/gf do to win your trust?" Be willing to listen to what they have to say. Never argue with them about it. That never works. It only shows them you are too immature to be in the relationship they are so worried about.
They will appreciate your desire to learn from their wisdom and respect their point of view. Remember, most of the time they are right and who wants to gamble with the few times they might be wrong, just for the sake of having a bf/gf.
Ask your parents if they would be willing to meet with your bf/gf and have them explain their reservations to him/her. If your bf/gf refuses to meet with your parents, that's a sure sign he/she is not respectful to you or your parents.
What Do Parents Expect?
Sometimes parents' expectations for whom you should date can be too high, but often your expectations are too low. Are you willing to settle for someone who might be harmful to you in the long run, just because they appear to show interest in you in the short term? Your parents can help you answer that question without all the emotional fog you are experiencing.
Most parents will appreciate a bf/gf who treats you with respect and honesty. Someone who makes you a better person. If they observe that you are often sad or hurt, those are red flags for them. They will also appreciate someone who cares enough for you that they are willing to make an effort to get along with them.
As you identify the problems and come up with the plans to fix them, you will be well on your way to a more healthy and positive relationship between you, your bf/gf, and your parents. Don't forget, while boyfriends and girlfriends come and go, parents are forever.
How do you go about protecting and guarding your heart? Click here for the lies and truths on how to guard your heart in relationships.