Advice for Niece

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-02-2012
Advice for Niece
7
Tue, 02-12-2013 - 3:13pm

Hi everyone,

My niece just turned 21. She is going to a local community college and living at home untill she transfers to a university this fall. Her parents have always been very protective of her and still set curfews for her because they don't want her out all night fooling around with guys. She has a job at the community college she attends, but couldn't financally support herself.

Well, now that I have given you some background here is my question. My niece started dating a man who is ten years older then her who works at the college as well. My nieces parents do not aprove of this guy since they believe he has caused my niece to change for the worst. For instance she has become direspecful and threatened to walk out and live with her boyfriend. Granted, she is an adult and her parents are very religious conservative, but they do only want whats best for her. Well, she got in an argument about not having enough freedom and her parents no liking her boyfriend and  walked out a couple of days ago. She is now living with her boyfriend and his family. Also, my niece has only been dating her boyfriend for two months but is sure he is 'the one'. According to my other niece (her sister) she already has baby names picke out! I know she will eventually turn to me for advice. I am not sure what to tell her without her turning me off since it probly won't be what she wants to hear. Any advice?

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Tue, 02-12-2013 - 9:14pm

The best thing that you can do for your niece is to be available to listen to her without being judgemental. And, if possible, offer for her to stay with you in the event that she no longer wants to live with the bf or they break up.

Her parents are fortunate that niece didn't rebel until 21, lots of girls would have rebelled at much younger age. Most parents want what's best for their kids but don't always go about it in the right way. When the daughter started complaining about lack of freedom they should have started negotiating and increasing freedom and talking about how niece could be more independent and still live by the values they instilled.

By criticizing the bf they created a classic Romeo and Juliet scenario. This is why I suggested that you might let her live with you. Now she is in a position where she may feel the need to defend the bf and her choice, even if she starts to feel that she may have been wrong or the relationship fizzles out. It will become a point of pride, especially if the parents will say "I told you so" if she admits a mistake. She needs a way to have a safety net and to be able to save face. 

If you cannot offer for her to come to you if necessary, then be available to listen, ask "what if" questions about the situation to get her thinking about how she will handle things in the future, and meet the bf yourself to know what he is like. I would wonder about a 31yo man taking his gf to live at his parents home, can he not afford his own place? What does she think about that? Discuss the plans for her to go on to university (can she still do this with the parents angry with her?) and impress on her the importance of getting her degree so she doesn't have to be dependent on a man or her (or his) parents.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Wed, 02-13-2013 - 2:34pm

I think that the parents kind of set themselves up for this situation by not treating a 21 yr old as an adult who could make her own decisions.  I stopped giving my DD a curfew when she was 18 and could legally drive after midnight.  And having a curfew wouldn't stop someone from fooling around with boys, as you could imagine.  Therefore, if her parents are controlling everything, she had no opportunity to learn how to make her own deicisons, including how to decide if a man was good for her or not.  Has she ever had a BF before this?  I could see this as a situation where she just wanted to get out of the house & out from under the control of her parents so she is idealizing him.  I think you should try to get to know the BF--invite both of them to your house for dinner, ask him about himself & seem friendly.  Then if you have reservations about him you can bring it up to him later, like "he seems like a nice guy, but why doesn't he have ajob?" or whatever--or if you get married, are you going to continue to live with his parents, etc.?  Maybe living w/ his parents will be even more annoying than living w/ her parents.  I also think you should encourage her parents to let her know that she is always welcome to come back home if things don't work out so she won't feel that she has to stay with him to save face.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-08-2012
Thu, 02-14-2013 - 5:00pm

I guess I am amazed that it took the girl this long to get out. If her parents have been so protective of her all her life she may have a less realistic view on life that others who have been out in the world have.

Has she been raised to believe marriage is the goal in her life? Is she reaching for the first "mature" guy that fits the bill of what she believes her future should be?

I agree that all you can do is be there for her to have a safe haven should she need it. But hope that her parents have extended the offer that she is welcome back home if she needs to go back.

At 21, her parents shouldn't be involved in her personal life and relationships unless invited to do so. Sounds like they are a bit controlling and that can ruin their relationship with their child.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-30-2011
Fri, 02-15-2013 - 12:50pm
I was also asking why a 31 year old would still be living at home with his parents, doesn't sound like a good prospect for her. Like the others said, you should be there to support her, not lecture, and offer her a place to go. If she feels like she's being treated as a grown up, she might actually do some maturing and realize that this guy isn't the one for her. I bet he's her first serious boyfriend, and she's just in love with being in love.

Chelsea

"Minds are like parachutes. They only function when they are open."

Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Fri, 02-15-2013 - 1:46pm
You didn't say if the parents were your sister or brother, or in-laws. I just ask because of the relationship you may have with the parents. But, since you really only asked about the Niece, I would ditto the others. Be a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear. Offer to meet the guy, etc. etc. Try to be open minded and as we all know, this R with this guy will have to run its course. Are you concerned with any backlash from the parents if you befriend her and/or the BF?
Serenity
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-23-2010
Fri, 02-15-2013 - 6:13pm

How I handle my nieces and nephew when they ask for advice or if they're handling themselves differently than I would is.....I support them in whatever they choose to do because in reality it's their mistake to make.  How do you know this person isn't right for her?  My niece recently married someone who I don't feel is good enough for her BUT I respect that she's a beautiful intelligent woman who is capable of making her own choices.  If something happens and it doesn't work out I will be there to help in whatever way I can.

As I have posted my sister has been diagnosed with cancer and she has 2 daughters and a son.  I am very close to them and have always done my best to keep them safe from harm and it's killing me watching them go through this BUT this is life....this is their life and yes if my sister dies it will be a huge loss of their Mother and I will be here to help them in whatever way I can BUT I can't change the course this is taking and I have to allow them to experience what comes in their lives albeit impossibly painful as it is.

Let her know you're here for her if she needs you and leave it at that.  She's an adult and will make her own choices good or bad.

San

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-22-2004
Fri, 02-15-2013 - 10:17pm

I agree with the previous poster. As much as we sometimes love someone, we can´t protect them from the consquences of their  choices. It is their life and they have to fight their own battles. 

I tried to rescue some family members years ago, just to find that they will put themselves in the same problems again.

I would try to tell nice that I love her and that I will be there for her, but at the same time detach a little.

You are not resposible for her choices and at the same time I don´t know why you have to endure with her with the results of it.

 

Just my sesne of it!