It’s a parent’s nightmare come true. Your daughter comes home head-over-heels in love with her new boyfriend and you think he’s all wrong for her. You want to like him, but then you meet him, and you just can’t. She swears he’s a good guy and you really want to believe her. You find yourself wondering what to do when you don’t like your daughter’s boyfriend.
Do you sit in your chair facing the door with your shotgun? You could demand he has her home by 10. Or do you flat-out tell her she’s not allowed to date him? If you meet your daughter’s new boyfriend and just can’t bring yourself to like him, take a look at these 7 ways to respond to the situation.
1. Express your concerns to your daughter once.
Whether it’s a rumor you’ve heard or behavior you’ve seen, talk to your daughter about your concerns in a quiet, comfortable setting. Give your daughter the chance to explain the behavior to the best of her ability, and let her know that as long as you don’t see him doing it anymore, you won’t hold any rumors or past mistakes against him.
2. Set clear boundaries from the start.
Be clear that dating rules and boundaries will apply to any boy she brings home, regardless of your opinion of him. To increase the chances of your daughter willingly accepting these rules, explain the purpose of the boundaries as fully as you can. Teens who understand the “why” behind the rules are more likely to follow them.
3. Encourage family activities with the boyfriend.
When I was growing up, my boyfriends had a spot at our dinner table and knew all of my siblings. Dating was a family affair, since boyfriends were potential future family members. Consider going for a hike or a bike ride or invite him along for a family trip to the local zoo or amusement park. Surrounded by people, a new boyfriend won’t feel as overwhelmed or singled out, and parents can observe from a safe distance.
4. Consider going on a double date.
This might seem like a bit much for some parents, but a dinner out together can be a great way to build rapport with her new boyfriend and show him just how much you love your daughter and want to protect her. If the new boyfriend has bad intentions, he might hesitate to act on them if he sees the devotion you have for your daughter, and if his intentions are good, he’ll find himself in good company. If he refuses to even go, then that will hopefully send a clear sign to your daughter.
5. Create a plan with your daughter for if things ever go south.
Even before your daughter begins dating, it’s important to take care of some “what if” scenarios. One of the best pieces of advice for what to do when you don’t like your daughter’s boyfriend is to make it clear that she can always call or text you. Set up a text code to use in the event of an emergency, and choose a safe location where you might find her if she needs to leave a party or other place early. Be on the lookout for signs of dating abuse as well. And remember, no blame if she ever needs to text you at 12 a.m. for a ride home.
6. Give him the benefit of the doubt.
…but also remind her it’s much easier for a good girl to go bad than to convince a bad boy to turn good, like in the movie Grease. I love it, except for the last 10 minutes, when Sandy completely abandons her morals and dons her skintight leathers. It’s a horrible ending, but a fantastic lesson to teach our teens. It’s much easier to make good choices when you’re surrounded by good people, and more often than not, a girl who thinks she can “fix” a bad boy, or just love him as he is, is more likely to get broken herself.
7. Trust that you raised your daughter right.
In the end, once you’ve done everything you can to protect your daughter, trust that you raised her right. Trust that she will make the right decision when the moment calls for it. Trust that you raised her to be strong and confident in her own worth. You’ve spent years shaping her into the wonderful young woman she has become. Now trust that she heard you and believes it herself.
What would you consider to be signs that your child is being negatively influenced by his or her significant other? And what advice would you give to somebody who’s wondering what to do when you don’t like your daughter’s boyfriend?