My Boyfriend Or My Grandkids!?

Dear Mamas,

My daughters, 29 and 28, hate my boyfriend. They are both married and on their own but have said that they will disown me and will not let me see my about-to-be-born grandchild if I don’t break up with him. They feel I should be more concerned about my children than a relationship with a man. I have no clue as what to do.

Thanks, Cindy

Dear Cindy,

Wow, that’s a tough one alright! But since you didn’t provide me with too many details I’m going to have to wing it on this one and answer in a more general way. I hope it helps some.

First of all here’s what we do know: your “kids” are really not kids anymore. They are grown women now, married and, as you said, on their own. Beyond that, I really haven’t a clue as to what the situation is but for some reason they have taken a strong dislike to your main man and believe they have the right to coerce you into breaking it off.

But why? Have asked your daughters what they find so nasty about him? It’s odd for young adults to object so strongly to a boyfriend for their mom unless they have very serious concerns, so I would sit them down and have a calm, honest discussion.

Ask them to clearly explain why they are insisting that you no longer see him. Make sure they speak in specifics like, “He doesn’t work, has no money and is taking advantage of you.” Or, “I don’t like the way he treats you. He is unreliable, untrustworthy and mean.” or, “Mom, he’s clearly an alcoholic with no interest in dealing with his problem.” Got it? Don’t let them get away with, “You can do better than him,” or something vague like that. Insist that they give specific examples to illustrate their point.

Another area that might be good to take a look at is their relationship and history with their father. What is their (and your) relationship with him like? Could that be contributing to their negative feelings for your current boyfriend? Have you been divorced/separated/estranged from their dad for long? Could they be thinking that the two of you might get back together again if only that annoying boyfriend disappeared?

Even grown children fantasize about their divorced or warring parents making up and living happily ever after. And in the event of a parent’s death, the children, regardless of their ages, may believe that no one can, or should replace him.

Regardless of the specifics of your case, it is definitely worth exploring the whole nine-yards-worth of their thoughts and feelings behind this serious ultimatum.

After giving them the chance to truthfully explain themselves you owe it to them to carefully consider the validity of their concerns. If you feel they are way off base and that there is, in fact, nothing to be concerned about, then you are going to have to tell them that.

Although family members do have the right to express concerns about relationships that are abusive, demeaning, predatory or the like, nobody should be telling you who to date or marry. You, too, are grown and on your own and entitled to have a full and rich life, part of which may not include your kids. They do not have the right to make you choose between them and the man you care about.

Good luck with this one and let us know how it turns out.


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Ellen W. Schrier, LCSW, is a family therapist and the mother of three adolescent/young adult kids.

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