23 answers

Adult (Technically) Daughter and Boyfriend We Don't Like

Any advice from Moms of young adult women or from young women who have been on the other side of this issue. My youngest dd is 20 and lives at home--she is a full time student at local university and works part time (full for summer), does her chores and is mostly very respectful and a great girl/woman. The problem is that when she was 16 and rebellious she met a guy who was 24--I knew that forbidding her to see him would not work so I requuired that thay meet only at our home or in public with family around(me, her older sister, her stepdad, aunt etc) until she was at least 18.I am sure he was not comfortable with all the questions we put to him when he was here! But that was not enough --she started sneaking around with him and then I called him and threatened to report him as she was still a minor--he must have decided that it was not worth it for he was soon out of the picture--she was very angry with me for awhile, but got over it. Then when she was 18 they connected again (my other daughter just told me about this) and he "broke her heart". Now they are seeing eachother again--she is being open about it--and says that she feels connected to him in ways she has never felt with anyone else. I fear it is the "bad boy" syndrome. She broke up with a sweet boy that we all liked not long ago because he was too much like a brother(her words). Now what do I do--we have always welcomed both girls' friends and boyfriends here--she has not asked to bring him here or to ask him to a family outing. I feel very uncomfortable with him--my partner thinks we should just wait and see if it blows over and be here for her when she is broken hearted--which he thinks will happen--but if she continues to see him then eventually we will have to accept that this is who she has chosen even if we don't like how it all started. What do you ladies think?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Well thaks to many of you Moms--there was some good advice in here--I think I will invite him over soon for a family night. I guess I just have a hard time with a 24 yr old guy who pursues 16 yr olds--and other problems that I have heard about this guy. But maybe as one of you said if we accept him then either she will start to see what he is really like or maybe he has matured and become a better person(I can hope!)I also would add that I was one who looked for "bad boys" because of father issues. Mine was abusive and cheated on my Mom many times--I married abusive, cheating men--but divorced them. I had just hoped that with finally having a good role model(in present partner) she might not go that route--it certainly has made a difference with her older sister who says John is a good role model in how a relationship should be and she will accept nothing less! And to those of you with the unsolicited advice--a piece of paper from the state means nothing in the larger context of the relationship. My relationship with John is far more spiritual and committed than the marriages I had and many of those I see(neighbors, family etc). If we had already been married and they were his bio kids than it would be different but why should he have to pay for their educations as well as paying bills and supporting them in many other ways because their Dad is worthless? We are not poor but we are living very modestly and without help from the state they would have to get a lot more student loans(and both of them are going into careers that will be helpful to society--education-- but not high paying--making it harder to pay back student loans)I also beleive that any person who wants to go to college--it should be paid for as long as they are good students.
And for those who are obsessed with the marriage thing--I would prefer my girls to live with a great guy who treats her well than to marry a jerk! to Cynthia--if you live in Indiana you can sign your kids up for the 21st scholarhsip program when they are in the 8th grade--which pays tuition at state schools(kids sign a pledge to stay drug and crime free and keep at least a C average). And with 5 kids you should be elegible for aid. Some of you maybe need to think about what you write in responses to other Moms as this is supposed to be a support group --not a judgemental group.

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Have you ever heard the old saying ? - The apple doesn't fall very far from the tree??????????????
D. Y.

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Hear is what I know, given that I am in the midst of the same. As long as they can romanticize the bad boy, as long as they see themselves in that role of the Harlequin romance heroine who magically changes the bad boy into a good boy -- as only she can, of course -- OR until she wakes up to reality and sees what she doesn't have and kicks him to the proverbial curb, there isn't a thing you can do. But you know what you can do? There is wisdom in keeping the enemy closer. Got a car trip coming up any time soon? I have found that a good long road trip brings out the true person every time, as do card and board games, believe it or not. Who ever a person is ultimately shows up after being in a car together for three or four hours, the more the better. Even with gas at 4+ a gallon, the investment might be worth it...for all of you. Otherwise you will have to wait it out making sure your relationship with her stays open and positive.

When our oldest son chose his future wife, we worked hard to accept her into our family despite definite reservations about how they met and the kind of person she might be. Things were going along fine until she began saying some things that had me really very seriously concerned for our son's future. I talked to our son about it and he accepted it well until he talked to her. It didn't take long for me to learn I should have kept my mouth shut. More than six years later, she is still my daughter-in-law and now the mother to one of my wonderful grandsons. We've managed to work through our differences and her rough edges are beginning to smooth a little, but neither of us will ever forget the long period of tension and struggle.

It sounds like your situation is similar (without the marriage) in that you made a valiant effort with this boyfriend then said something that put a strain on their relationship and now find yourself in a position where there is a gap between you and your daughter since she has chosen to be with him anyway. If she isn't inviting him to do things with your family, perhaps you could. No doubt you will still have all the reservations you have had all along, but he might change and the influence of your family on him might help bring some of those changes into his life. And you know, even if he doesn't change at all, you will end up keeping the relationship with your daughter as close as it can be by doing all you can to have a relationship with her significant other.

I'm 25, and had a son with my "bad boy" boyfriend. We didn't last. Don't get me wrong, I still love him and all...I just realized after 6 long years of fighting and arguing that we have very different dreams and goals in life and we want different things. We get along great as friends, work well as parents together yet seperated, celebrate birthdays and holidays together with our current loved ones and other family, and we still have moments (in the VERY FEW TIMES we're alone) that we look at each other and say damn why couldn't we work? We tried multiple times. I could always see the pain in my mom's eyes, but when you really love someone you have to try until you know it's dead. He's my "drug" that I've managed to overcome and have control of my own life as to how much he's involved. It definitly wasn't always like that.
My sister and her boyfriend my parents didn't like are married. We all have our issues with him, but when together we do our best to get along. We invite him along for everything. My mom says he's one of the family and that's that. It's not easy by any means but it's better than the alternative. If we didn't embrace him, my sister would resent us, not come to parties and family functions and we would never see them.
As for the road trip...we are going on our first family vacation since 2002. Driving in cars down to FL. Staying (all 9 of us) in one condo (3 bedroom 3 bath) and spending a wonderful 8 days together...Hmmmmm ;)

Dear D.,
Your daughter sees a double standard in that you won't let her date this guy yet you live with a man that is not your husband. I don't want to sound jugdemental but kids will go beyond the boundies we set for them and ourselves.

L. M.

Hi D.,
As difficult and frustrating as it is for you, I think it's best to just let her live her life. If you pressure her to end things with him, it could damage your relationship with her. And if they break up, she will need her mom for comfort. It's best to withhold your judgment with the goal of being her confidante. Show her that you respect her and that she can count on you. And above all, remain prayerful that things will work out for the best. Several years ago, my much younger brother dated a girl we disliked immensely. He had an idea that we didn't like her, and (to our complete and utter horror) they were even talking marriage. I told him straight out "You're an intelligent adult and I respect your decisions. Your relationship is none of my business, but if you ever need to talk, I am here for you." It was amazing how much a difference that seemed to make. He did confide in me. And, after 4 long years, they did break up. I was there for him as much as I could be during his healing process and he hasn't looked back. I thank God everyday for opening his eyes and leading away from such an unhealthy relationship. I will pray for the same for your daughter.

All my best!

Hi D.,
From being that girl with the bad boy syndrome, I never went out with nice guys until I met my husband 4.5 yrs ago and married him 6 months later. It really sounds to me like he was the guy that she lost her virginity to. You seem to have that "connection that no one else has" with that guy. Unfortunately she is old enough where she has to make her own decisions and you may not like them, but are going to have to live with them and be there very supportive when she messes up or in this case, gets her heart broken. It'll happen eventually. I never listened either, but I thank God for my mom almost every day. She was always there to be supportive no matter what happened to me. (Poor woman!!) Good luck! Take some deap breaths and it'll all waork out in the end!


I know of an organization that can help in this situation.
Marriage Works! Ohio offers free classes for couples in relationships. One class called Love Thinks was developed around a curriculum originally called "How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk (or Jerkette)". We changed the title so not to scare off potential participants, but it addresses all the issues that are giving you concern about their relationship. You want what's best for her and you don't want to see her get hurt, so I recommend you gently encourage them to attend as a couple, and sell the idea to them as, "so they can build a healthy, happy long lasting relationship." They will probably be in shock that you are so accepting of their relationship but also thankful that you care and want them to be happy. (If he truly is a jerk, she will be able to quickly identify that on her own from the information from the class, and will probably make a decision to move on to healthy relationships in the future.) Worse case scenario is that he isn't that big of a jerk, but they learn to develop their relationship into a healthy one using foundations of knowing someone well (involving time and knowing their families background) before you trust them, being able to trust them before you rely on them and having a commitment with them only after the first 3 foundations have been properly formed.

Marriage Works! Ohio is a federally funded program. There are no religious components in the classes. We serve 6 counties in southwest Ohio. Please go to www.TrustMarriage.com for more information.

Don't forget to mention to your daughter that the class is free and it includes free dinner, and gift cards for attendance! They can make it one of their "date nights".

Then please let us know what happens. You are doing a great job as a Mom, being there for your daughter.



First let me say kuddos for handling the whole thing well - the first time around. But here is the thing, your daughter is an adult, she very well may get hurt, but it is her that needs to learn this for herself. (I am speaking from the other side - my mom made me quit seeing my "badboy" in high school, we still saw each other and her and my relationship was rocky for quite a while) Another point, who's to say they would not have been together all this time if you hadn't of outted him to the police?....I understand why you did it, one day your daughter will too. Maybe he has changed, people do? But you don't want to alienate your daughter. If she is being open with you, that is half the battle - meet her half way - invite him to a family dinner and make it clear to the rest of the family that there are no "ill feelings" as not to add tention to the evening. You are well within your right as a mom to pull your daughter aside and let her know your true feelings, w/o being judgemental. Just let her know you are going to stay out of it, but you are here if and when she needs you. Good luck!

Unfortunately, you can't pick your kids' partners. Now that she is 18, she's pretty much on her own. It sounds like she's at least being open to you about it...I'd keep those lines of communication open. You don't have to be comfortable with him, but you might also give him a chance. He could have changed at least a little. I've always found that you have to let them make their choices. She may well get hurt, but she does have to make her own choices. I tend to agree with your partner. IN fact, you might initiate including him to show her you are giving him a fair chance. Could go a long way to win her trust in your opinion!

Good luck!!

my parents put me through a similar situation and what i would recommend is to let her live her life. live and learn. my parents tried to censor this guy i was with and they didn't even know him. i don't think you should threaten anyone b/c people can be crazy.
why don't you all like him exactly? fyi what you see is not what your daughter sees. he could be the most fun, awesome, loving man and no one is giving him a chance.
just be there for her when she needs it and don't act momish if something does happen. meaning don't say i told you so. good luck.

Coming from someone who dated someone her parents hated, DO NOT resist him. I am not saying to love him and be fake around him and act like you accept him. I am just saying DO NOT hound your daughter about how you "think she could do better," "he isn't the right person for her," "he treats her horribly," and "he is going to break her heart." All of that will only push her even further in his arms. Trust me!

Hopefully, eventually, she will realize all of that ON HER OWN. I did. But first my M. had to back off so I could do my own thinking. I am not saying for sure she will give him up. I just know that is how it worked for me. The pressure from my M. (family) and the constant drilling me about him just made everything worse.

Just remember, you do not have to like him, but you cannot control whether or not your daughter likes him. She will decide for herself. If she has seen positive relationships within the family, hopefully she will see that her relationship with this guy does not fit what she was raised with, and what she ultimately wants in the long run. I hope this helps.

I would say the more you object the more determined she will be to continue the relationship. Maybe she really does care more about him, and he about her than is visable to you.
Sometimes the more "we" like someone the more determined our children are not to be with that person. Some type of reverse phsyc I never quite figured out. Seems like they are determined to prove to us they know better than we do about people!!!
I would say you need to tell her you know she is seeing him, it is all right to bring him over if she wants to. Be polite to him, invite him over for cookouts, etc., and let it work itself out. Don't bombard him with questions, etc.
If it is meant to be it will be, if it doesn't work out then you will not have alienated your daughter and she will be a stronger person.

I don't know what state you live in but in Indiana the age of consent for a girl is 16. Anyway, now that she is 20 there really isn't anything you can do about who she sees. You could threaten her but that would make matters worse. Wait and see if it blows over and if it doesn't then you have to accept the fact that she is with him although it doesn't mean you have to like it or him for that matter. It may just be bad boy syndrome like you said. My mom went through the same thing with me when I was 16. I would sit and talk with her tell her how you guys feel and let her tell you how she feels.
It may sound crazy but to make her feel a little better tell her to invite him to a family outing and then you can talk to him. As kids get older they change. Her sneaking around with him then doesn't mean it was his idea. She may have decided on her own to do this. Just give it time and see what happens. When I was 16 my mom didn't like my boyfriend who is now my husband and he was 21 at the time. They get along good now. It takes time and patience and things may change for the better. But whatever happens you need to be there for your daughter.

I am 31 and have been married for almost 12 yrs. My husband and I have 3 boys ages 10,7 and 4.

Hi D.,
I'm not near that part in life with my girls, but one thing for sure that I do know is that sometimes things will blow over, sometimes they don't and it can become a very bad situation. For instance, she might end up pregnant by him, he walks out with in that time frame or when the baby is atleast a year or two and where she is very dependant on him and lose her dignity. I'm kinda sparatic here at the moment. Where I'm coming from is that I was pretty rebellious as well. I dated a bunch of guys off and on when I was younger, ended up with a guy that was really nice and sweet to me, almost like my best friend, we decided at age 18 we wanted to become a family. We ended up pregnant and didn't realize what we were really getting ourselves into. It wasn't really all that bad for the first year, things started to fall apart, he decided he didn't want to work anymore and didn't even want me in that line of even searching. See I was working on going back to school and getting a good education, he started leaving when he wanted and doing what he wanted, not that I was caring all that much until I got pregnant with my 2nd. He than started accusing me of cheating, but the baby was his along with our first. I always thought things were going pretty well with us for a long time, until I ended up sick from gallstones and hospitalized. I found out that his grandmother was taking care of our girls and he was partying it up with a bunch of guys and girls in our apartment complex. When I got out a very dear friend of mine told me everything that they had remembered about the time I was gone. I questioned the girls' dad about it and he decided to leave again. Didn't come home for about a week and a half (Doing drugs), to make a long story short we were together for 5 years, never married because of the problems we were having and than we split when our youngest out of the two girls was a year old. He cheated on me, I found out through my kids and my family that lived on both sides of us. My heart was destroyed because he tried to tell me my kids were lying to me. It took my nephew who hung out with him alot to tell me what had gone on (by force of his mother) due to the fact that my ex got him into drugs. It took me 4 years to find me a keeper. We're not married yet and been together for 5 years, due to the fact that our life situation had started out rough and there were trust issues, we're dealing with them now, but it took myself a while to realize that I can be loved inside and out. I just hope it won't be too late for your daughter. Good Luck & I'll keep your family in prayers.

I have been there and I think you have a BIG RED FLAG situation but that you cannot really do anything about it.
There are all kinds of possibilities down the road, not many of them good.
As long as she is as you describe her at home and in school, I would just let it be...maybe somehow she will wake up and "get it".
Our youngest(30) now "gets it" but she has 2 darling daughters and is living with the immature father of the second, and hoping to make a life with him (if he ever grows up). He is 7 1/2 years her junior, and I have some hope for them but it is a very tenuous situation.
At least your daughter is getting an education.
I know about feeling uncomfortable.....when you are around him be very nice if you can....sometimes the contrast between him and the rest of your family will come out and she will see it.
Actually this very thing happened to our son.
It was so obvious to all that his girlfriend did NOT fit in, but he would not see it.
There were SO many red flags that one of his best friends would not be in or attend their wedding.
They were married less than 2 years and had a very young infant when they split up.
Pray for both your daughter and him, and I hope that things turn out for the best eventually.


hey D.

i can relat the same thing happend to me when i was her age i am 22 now so i can come close to how ur dd feels but I am also a mother to a 1 yr old dd so i can image how u feel as tp protect your child, frist of in your letter you dont know what you want your dd to be a girl or a women every time u type u through up both options, when this boy fist came into the picture u should have said i will call the police soon as his age was know it would have been a chance fro them to get to know each other and for them to reconect later down the road. as of now she 20 she is grown she just stays with u u dont want to get to into her personal life that she will want to pack up and move and does whose know what with out u knowing give ur advise that what u do at this age dont be upset if she dont take it the have to live in learn and when shes hurt be there thats your roll be happy she is open at lest you know whats going on with her i know u might not what to know this but he might have her heads in the clouds(he could of been her first) and she thinks he right for her but she realy cant see with all the clounds in her way but bottom line u can lead a horse to water but u cant make them drink and dont mess up ur relation ship with her buy butting in to much trust me me and my husband had that problem and it anit pretty hope this helps good luck

There was a boy my daughter was dating when she was 15/16. I didn't like him but couldn't put my finger on the reason. I started listening more to what they said to one another and how things were said. After about a year I took this boy home without my daughter. (no car...I took them where they needed to go if it was too far to walk) I had a talk with him that he didn't like at all. He was sending up red flags that made me think he was trying to control my strong willed daughter. I was NOT going to allow that having been in that situation when I was 18. After I talked to him he continued to see my daughter for only a short time. I also talked to my daughter when I got back home and told her what I had said to him. I let her know that I wasn't going to make her decisions about who to date but that she needs to steer clear of those that have a need to control others. It took about 3 months for her to really see what I could see and she broke it off with him. The next few boyfriends weren't much better but some! She is now married and doing well. I was very firm with her while she was growing up. She is a strong willed person. She turned out well but had to run away a couple of times, get into the drugs etc. She went to counseling on her own and has turned her life around. She just turned 22.

If you are living with your man outside of marriage it is much harder to teach a child the correct way to live. If we want our children be good adults we have to be good role models for them. There is so much in this world that is bad so it's important to show them there is good all around even if it isn't the most popular way to be.


Hi D., What more can you do? Your daughter know's what this person is like and maybe just because she knows you don't like him pushes her closer to him. If you do not want him at your house it will either be her moving out or accepting him for as long as she wants to be with him. At 20 I imagine she will be moving sometime soon anyway. Good luck K.

Have you ever heard the old saying ? - The apple doesn't fall very far from the tree??????????????
D. Y.

I used to date the "bad boy" all of the time. After years of hooking up with the wrong men I am now married to a wonderful guy who loves me very much. However, the journey here was long and hard. Here is what I learned...I was dating "bad boys" for two reasons. 1. I had "daddy" issues: My dad and I had a rocky relationship and I believe I wanted someone to "take his place" so to speak. The guys I dated were very bossy and ordered me around. Of course, I willingly did whatever they asked because I wanted them to be happy. And even though it wasn't conscious, I do believe I thought I could change them but I never did...which leads to #2. I had really bad self esteem. I don't think I really thought I deserved any better. Of course, I didn't know better from my dad so I just thought this is how guys were. I too broke up with a guy who was super nice because he was like a friend. He bought me flowers practically everyday but it felt smothering to me. I didn't think I was worth it. The whole thing is like one big circular self-fufilling prophecy. You feel worthless and like you don't deserve better (could be from a bad relationship with your father or for any other reason) so you get into a relationship where someone treats you that way which confirms the way you feel. So then, you think that if they change for you than maybe you are worth it but they never do. Which again confirms your already low self esteem. In turn you don't feel like you deserve better and the whole thing begins again. I don't know if that makes sense to you or if it is helpful. I know for me it took realizing how valuable I was and not needing to seek validation of that from anyone but God. The minute I started a relationship with Jesus, it started getting better. I realized that He was the only one who's opinion mattered and He loved me no matter what. From there I was able to break out of the "bad boy" cycle and even fixed my relationship with my dad. I didn't date for five years because I just knew I needed some time to love me so that I could be ready for the man God had for me. All you can do is be there for her. You can't make her quit dating this guy unless she wants to. If I were you, I would let your daughter know how valuable she is to you no matter who she is dating. All you can do is love her and pray for her. Prayer is very powerful and so is love. "And these three things remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13

1st: previous mother, cynthia, you did sound like a "b" with that unsolicited advice. you should have kept it. p.s congrats on the 8 years!!

D....my advice would be to extend a welcome to this boy and get to know the person he is now. in very clear and unmistakable words let your daughter know that you are wanting her to be happy and that you would like to know this guy. i'm sure she has not invited him because she has a clear memory of everything that happened before. the worst thing you could do is not talk to her and let her assume that you are thinking the worst of her, him and everything they do together. if you accept even if you still don't like him at least you'll know she's not doing it to spite you. as she's your 'baby' i'm sure you would like to hold on to her as long as possible, but let her feel like you think she's an adult not just "technically" an adult. and even if you can't tell sometimes, i guarantee she loves you and seeks your approval more than you'll ever know.

Hi D., I used to like the bad boys. Now I look back at how stupid I was. But then I think because they were forbidden, they were much more desireable in a strange way. Let the man hang himself. If you raised your daughter well, which it sounds as if you have, she might become embarrassed of him. Maybe get her to think about her future. Or what makes a great marriage work.

Bad boy or not, many of us have experienced that "magnetic" animal attraction that doesn't serve any logic. It's like nature has said that this is who you are supposed to mate with. We have since evolved as humans and know there is more to mating than that. Nature can be a strong force so it is hard to listen to yourself, let alone those around you, when they are suggesting that this is not the right match for you.

Personally, I had at least one guy in my young adult life that I had that type of attraction with. Bad experience (cheating & insincerity of words) after bad experience, my head said "he is not right for me", but I naturally always wanted to be with him even more. After years of on and off dating, my head finally won and my heart finally forgot the feeling he brought.

Thankfully, I am now happily married to the man perfect for me. Was there an initial magnetic animal attraction to him? No, that part took a little time, work and soul searching. But, he was my best friend, and now my lover. He is the world's best husband and father, so who can ask for more?

Feel free to share this with your daughter. It might help her make sense of it all. But ultimately, she needs to make her own decisions and come to her own conclusions. Sometimes all it takes is a matter of time.

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