OK... how do you all deal with parents

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Registered: 03-26-2003
OK... how do you all deal with parents
Sat, 03-29-2003 - 5:14pm
who don't agree with key aspects to your teen's life in particular and you have to live close by them anyway?

I've been hoping several other posts would be between this one and my last one as I don't want to appear like I'm dominating the board but here goes.

My dd turns 19 in June. She lives at home, works, and is in school part time right now upgrading her math to university level math and has registered at a college & university in our city for the fall to go full time and continue working part time, as she has now for 4 years. She is maintaining a 90 average. She is respectful, has excellent work ethics, sets her own curfews and is rarely ever home later than 11 on weeknights and 1:00 weekends. Sets her own goals for grades. And she's had a very long term bf that she's spent the last 4/6 yrs with. (with a 2 yr split in between). He works full time.

My whole family live out of town. My parents live in "L", 2.5 hrs south of us. My dd's passion is travel. Her dad gave her a trip last yr as a grad gift; she chose to take a 2 wk vacation she planned herself for the better part of a year, and chose to go with her bf. I made the decision that a relationship with her was more important to me than having a nervous breakdown over traveling together before marriage. There's a very good chance they will end up married (but in 4+ years, so as far as I'm concerned, anything can happen in that time) but this possibility is well known to my family and much be-moaned.

They say it's bcause she could 'do so much better'. They say it's because he dropped out of HS (something I'm not in agreement with but it's not my child nor my choice here). A most recent comment by my mom was asking how my dd was, and upon hearing she was ugrading her math and registered for one of two places here for the fall, and then asking how the bf was & hearing he was working full time, she remarked, 'I'm SO glad he didn't manage to drag her down with him". I asked why she'd worry about that; that I didn't believe he'd do that nor did I believe she'd allow him to do that either. No comment. But while these are valid reasons for concern, they weren't crazy about him before either, when he was till 14 and in school. They are not crazy about teens, period. They have wanted to hear truly nothing about her her whole teen years unless it was 'how is school', period, and even that was rarely asked about her. I really haven't a clue what esp my mom's issue is; my sister thinks it has to do with my dd just being in a longterm relationship or that my mom has something bothering her from when she was a teen, pregnant at 19 and unmarried (with me!); my sister was pg at 19 and unmarried, but married to him now in an excellent marriage; my 3 siblings put my parents thru h*** in their teens and my sister thinks my mom's objections have more to do with that background than my dd per se. They do not want to get to know him either in person or through hearing about him. He is never mentioned in my convos with them. So it's not just about them traveling together either; that was just added fuel. It took me till two weeks AFTER she returned from her trip to even TELL them she'd gone.

So now the problem? My dd's boss, B, has offered the bf and my dd a business opportunity; to open a new business, like a franchise, and have the bf and my dd run it. He would front them the money to start it; they'd repay it over 5 years. His business is very successful. The business would be owned outright by them after the initial debt was repaid, which could be repaid sooner if they chose to work it that way. Everything over the monthly payments to him would be their profit. They could continue to run it with employees or without. The boss wants to set this up in the same city as my parents live. My dd could go to the university there. I could live in a house my parents manage for much less money per month. The bf would live with his sister who lives there; my dd would continue to live with us. My dd and bf are still seriously debating this and have made no decisions.

Me? I guarantee there'd be ongoing problems with my family. Right *now*, this is annoying and sad to me but my dd is pretty much unaware of all of this and loves her grandparents. I realize this is *their* problem but talking to them has resulted in the phone being hung up on me; trying to ask what it is they don't like resulted in "WE just DON'T". Once saying that while I understood their reservations regarding the travelling together or lack of education the kid has (who is gifted in so many ways but one of those who 'fell thru the cracks' in school due to a LD; in spite of that, I would lay everything that he will succeed at anything he chooses to do), that there was a whoooooooole lot less objectionable about HIM than about my ex - whom my mom STILL buys b-day gifts for and happily talks about him - in spite of knowing how he cheated several times, including trying to with my own sister, knowing the violence and rages he exhibited and controlling & demeaning ways he treated me - but that just drew silence. They KNOW that he treats my dd well; they know that he is helpful to me; they know that my younger dd thinks of him as a big bro and adores him ...

Sorry for the length of this post. This is really just bothering me to no end. How DO you deal with such situations? Ignoring it definitely doesen't make it better, esp when it's the mom who gets to apparently decide when something is going to be ignored and when something isn't. Talking has not helped at all. Leaving the subject completely undiscussed for YEARS except for the odd comment she's decided to make has definitely not changed a perspective or made it less of an issue.



Avatar for sabrtooth
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Registered: 12-03-1999
Sat, 03-29-2003 - 7:02pm
Jina, you've run a lot of interference on this issue, but by now, Sass & C are grown up!Have you tried letting Sass talk to your parents? Maybe if they heard from HER how much she loves them, they will "agree to disagree" on C & just reconnect with her. Bfs, & even hubbys, come & go, but grandchildren are forever. And your mom is young enough for the possibility of GREAT-grandchildren. Let Sass tell them she wants them to be in the life of HER children! My mom & Ed never got along, but thankfully my kids didn't have to ask their Granny why she didn't like Daddy, or visa versa. He made sure the kids maintained a relationship with her, & he never expressed his feelings publicly till they were much older & G-Ma had passed away. In the same vein, Mom never said anything to them about her feelings toward Ed.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sat, 03-29-2003 - 7:26pm
Like this is the 'last frontier' of parenting?

I hadn't thought of that, sabr. I have regarding their dad and everyone ELSE in their lives but not the grandparents - MY parents. Hm.

I guess I just dread the idea of the possibility of a move down there and having this come so much more 'known'. My dd would be so hurt, esp by the lack of refusal to even try to get to know him. My mom would expect that the two 'lives' be kept separate. Even when my sister once said a friend of mine had said something and my friend denied it, and was visiting me from Ontario, my mom invited *me* down but made it clear it had to be alone and I refused to go while my friend was still visiting. She didn't back down on that either and that was just a very simple situation where what she believed my friend had said wouldn't even have been a bad thing. It'd be that much worse with a g-daughter. When it comes to people she's decided she likes or doesn't like, it's her way or the highway. I can't see the situation being like your mom and Ed, as she would say a great deal or make her feelings very well known - but without a 'why'.

But I guess 'shielding' them all is only prolonging something in the end anyway.

I guess what I want is a magic wand.

Thanks sabr.

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Sat, 03-29-2003 - 8:41pm
I was thinking along the same line as Sabr...that this really is a problem between your dd and her grandma.

I think you were justified in protecting your dd when she was younger. Now she is old enough to hear it and handle it in the way that she feels is best. Your dd sounds very mature and level headed, she will probably do just fine with it! Maybe grandma will change her mind after hearing from her granddaughter how great the bf is, maybe a rift will form between the two, or maybe dd will give grandma "a dose of her own medicine". It is their choice. What would happen if you were not around to run interference? They would have to work it out and they would somehow, even if that means they don't see each other.

Another part of "letting go" in parenting.

I know that it is easy for me to say because I'm not in the middle of it, nor will I have to feel the ripples that it can cause. But Jina, you can't solve the whole family's problems or even try to carry them on your back. Delegate, girl!!!

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sat, 03-29-2003 - 8:44pm
You're a lot more forgiving and willing to try to get along than I am, I'm afraid!

We've been lucky in that my parents, although they may have disagreed with dh's and my choices in raising our kids and said so at the time, never let that affect their loving relationship with us while they were alive. (Kind of like, "I love you, I just don't like the behavior.") And they never volunteered an opinion on anything anyway, positive OR negative, unless ASKED. Ditto, my inlaws, and they live right next door to us!

We also have a pretty close relationship with my two paternal cousins (my guy cousin, his sister, and her family) although again, there are differences in religious and child-rearing practices between us. Ditto my sister and her family (although her kids dislike mine and mine hers, just because they are completely different temperamentally; they're civil to each other at least!)

But there are numerous maternal aunts, uncles and cousins whom I have gradually ceased communication with over the years, just because of various factors in their lifestyles I haven't wanted my kids exposed to (criminal behaviors as well as alcoholism and drug abuse.) It's not just the fact that they do these things, but they've been offered help and the opportunity to reform and better themselves, and they've chosen not to; they're content to be lower-class citizens, and they consider that my kids and I, in trying to "break the mold" so to speak, are "stuck-up" and "getting above ourselves." (They sort of feel that way about my sister and her family too, but she's found it harder to break her familial ties to them.) It wasn't a spur of the moment decision, and I did make several efforts earlier on to get along with them and have the kids get to know them; it just didn't work out. Maybe I'm just a lot more cold-hearted than you, but I used to be pretty close to these relatives when I was growing up; however, I feel they certainly have no right to sit in judgment on me and mine, and I haven't lost a moment's sleep over disassociating with them. (Neither have the kids.)

Your situation is different though, and much harder since it's your own parents you have to deal with. I tend to agree with sabr though, and say, since it seems to be S's bf your mom doesn't like, let S deal with the situation as she chooses to in regards to that. Hopefully everything will work out well for everyone; I'm sending lots of good wishes and thoughts your way!

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Registered: 03-26-2003
Sat, 03-29-2003 - 9:12pm
Funny...I have never thought of this as a letting go process thing and yet reading everyone's responses has really made a light go on for me. That, and your last comment that I can't take on my family's issues, elc; that's something I think I've had to work to free myself from doing since I was a young adult. I've managed it in nearly every other area except this one. It's so true that this ISN'T *my* issue. How blind can one be... I guess because the comments are always said to *me*, and not to my dd, I've *felt* like it was my issue to resolve or deal with.

HMM. Thank you.

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Registered: 03-26-2003
Sat, 03-29-2003 - 9:18pm
Thanks Drei. I'm willing to bet sabr or you or others have said more or less the same thing to me in the past when I've posted about this parents/bf issue but it seems it took till now for the idea that this ISN'T *my* problem to resolve to finally come clear. And you konw, one of the first things I do when I read a post or listen to someone is think, 'separate the issues; whose issue is whose', lol. Forest for the trees ...

I think more that it's because I've seemed to always tried to be the peacemaker amongst the family since I was growing up; this is something I've worked thru a lot of over the years but this one issue remained 'mine' in my mind; partly from that and partly because the comments are always said only to me. Maybe next time, I need to just say, 'sorry you feel that way, but this really isn't for me to deal with; talk to *my dd*". For one thing my mom would NEVER say this on purpose to my dd. If we lived down there, it would come up, 100% guaranteed. But I guess that bridge will be crossed if and when it happens. My dd has had to deal with her father and handled HIM. Yeah. She'll handle her g-ma.

Thanks Drei.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sun, 03-30-2003 - 8:51am
"Blessed be the Peacemakers"....ARGH...I too,am tired of being the peacemaker!!! (whole 'nother story)

I agree, although it's going to be tough, to 'let go' of protecting *S* from this...that it is what you need to do. She needs to know, and then she may choose to either deal with it, or avoid it. If she chooses to deal with it, she may have more success than you...because those 'past ghosts' are not hovering over her. Knowing what I know through you of *S*, I doubt she'd settle for a 'I just don't' kind of answer and may be more capable of taking it past that...also because of that lack of past issues.

I would imagine at the least a situation to 'agree to disagree' could be the answer. IF your mom wants *S* to be part of her life, she may have to understand that. I have been there with my mom. It wasn't easy, but we have come to that conclusion that we don't HAVE to agree, to have a relationship. We just have to respect that the other has a right to their choice or opinion. It may take a period to just let that 'sit' with your mom for it to sink in...to think about what the most important issue is with her. Whether to have a relationship with her granddaughter, or stand in judgement and push her away.

What an exciting opportunity for all of you! It's too bad it has to be so tainted with these unresolved issues.

((((HUGS)))) Jina, Susan

Wishing you a wonderful day!  Susan ~ Parentsoup 'CL'
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Registered: 10-26-1999
Sun, 03-30-2003 - 11:47am
I've been mostly lurking and not posting because I've been so busy, and I'm not sure I can add any better advice than sabr and elc did, but I do agree with them. I know how hard it is to break old patterns of responding, but they are right - Sass is an adult now, and a very mature and responsible one at that, and she will find a way to handle it.

As much as we love our families, they have their patterns of behavior that will never change. It sounds like your parents have issues about things that really don't make a lot of sense. When that's the case, all the reasoning in the world isn't going to change it. Trying to change them, or how they feel about certain things, will be like beating your head against a wall. Like Sabr said, this isn't something new. What IS new is that your dd is now an adult and can and WILL deal with it her own way. Her patterns of reacting will be different than yours, because she wasn't RAISED in this family. It's time to let go, mom! You have raised a competent, responsible, intelligent young woman - and H.S. education or not, she has a gem of a bf! SHE wouldn't have gone back to him and stayed with him this long if he wasn't. What your parents don't like about him really has nothing to do with who he is - he just doesn't fit their "perfect" profile for who they think she should be with. But you already know how skewed their ideas are re: who fits the "perfect" profile, so you can pretty much discount their opinion on this issue!

When I read your post, all I kept thinking of was the AA slogan (maybe, since you are from an alcoholic family, this wasn't concidental!) - "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference". I don't think your going to change this one!

                        Calmama54, from the beautiful

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Registered: 03-26-2003
Sun, 03-30-2003 - 12:49pm
Kkiana -

I don't have any advice in this area mainly because I KNOW that I would not have handled this situation well if it were my DD. I just want to offer moral support since you've offered it to me many times in the past. You and your DD sound very mature in dealing with this. I will use your example in guiding myself in the future should I encounter a similar problem.

I'm sure some of the "old hands" that have responded to your message here have some really great advice. Best of luck. Sorry I don't have a helpful contribution.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sun, 03-30-2003 - 3:13pm
Well :-) ... I think that kind of peacemaker is a little different since we aren't to 'tolerate sin' either :-) but I know what you mean. I think you come from a smiliar background with alcoholism in it too, don't you Susan? I think that's the role adult child of alcoholics often take on themselves.

I feel SO MUCH BETTER about this situation, it's like a light that's gone on. Thanks for your affirmation and caring. HUGS.