The following blog is from Break The Cycle and offers several good tips on what to do if you don’t care for the individual your child is dating, particularly if you suspect dating abuse.
In regards to talking with your child, Guided To Safety can provide you with a series of handouts to assist you in this area. Simply email us a request at GuidedToSafety@gmail.com
What Happens When You Don’t Like Your Child’s Partner?
It’s not necessarily unusual for parents to dislike their child’s teenage partner. You’re concerned about their choices and how intimate they will choose to be with their partner. You may also be anxious that they could make the same mistakes you made as an adolescent, and you want to spare them that pain. In order to get a sense of whether your child is making a choice you don’t approve of, or actually in an unhealthy relationship, consider the following:
The best offense is a good defense. Be cool with your teen’s significant other and act like nothing is wrong. You don’t have to pretend to love them, but it’s not helpful to criticize, insult or put that person down. That will only fan the flames of love, making them more attractive because you hate them.
Part of growing up is asserting yourself and making your own decisions. By dating someone who may not fit into your mold of appropriate, they’re exploring what they like as opposed to what you want for them. If you’re a carnivore and they bring home a vegetarian partner, it’s not a slight on you so much as it’s a way for them to explore something outside their home.
Maintain a relationship with your child. Even if you’re not fond of who they’re dating, it’s important to ask about their life, what they’re doing, who they’re hanging out with, school, extracurriculars, social activities and so on. Your kids already know what your standards are, so trust them to learn that their partner may not fit in with your family on their own instead of outright telling them.
Avoid forbidding your child from seeing their partner. This also includes forcing them to stay in after they already made plans, or surprising them with a dinner out that doesn’t include their other half. These kinds of actions just drive them further away from you.
Whether you like your child’s partner or not, look out for early warning signs of abuse, including extreme jealousy or possessive behavior, unexplained marks or bruises, abuse towards people or animals, excessive texting or emailing, if your child stops spending time with you, your family, their friends and their extracurricular activities, or if your son or daughter is depressed, anxious or fearful.
Talk to your child and listen. Do not judge or criticize their choices, but let them know you are there for them. Keep the lines of communication open – it’s extremely important they know you are concerned for their safety and that they know they deserve a safe and healthy relationship. Validate their feelings by being supportive and understanding. Consider helping them develop a safety plan so they can leave the relationship.