How to Accept Your Son's Girlfriend
The Other Woman in His Life
Get Along with His Choice
Good relationships begin at the start. When your son brings home a girlfriend, here are ways to develop positive rapport.
The human family is like a wolf pack. There is a social hierarchy and a code of acceptance and rejection. When a son introduces a new female into his world, the rest of the females—young and old—take notice. Who is this unfamiliar creature that has attracted our son’s attention? Fears and questions arise: Will she be good for him? Will she take him away from us?
It is natural to feel territorial, especially for a mother over her child. This is the reason why so many mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationships become estranged. There is a tug-of-war with an unhappy male in the middle of it all. Young ladies attempt to prove their worth while mothers can be highly critical of the young woman who aims to replace her in her son’s life.
But mothers would be well advised to use care in their interactions with their children’s dates in the event that these relationships become permanent, and here is what to keep in mind:
First impressions don’t always count. How many times have we misjudged someone based on superficial factors (clothing, car, education, career)? Didn’t people of his time misjudge Jesus Christ himself? Get to know your son’s girlfriend. He must be attracted to some good qualities.
Don’t judge her at all. Do you remember how difficult it was to stand in judgment of your husband’s mother and family? No one likes to be judged. Everyone has the right to be who she wants to be without anyone else’s approval, including yours.
Support your son’s choice. In the end, your opinion will not win out. It is your son’s choice and happiness that matters. He will appreciate your support and resent your disapproval.
When to Be Alarmed
Young lovers are blind to serious red flags in their relationships which is why mothers become so alarmed when they see what they perceive to be poor choices. But it’s important to refrain from being petty. Her clothing, car, finances, education, family background and hobbies are compatibility matters for your son to think about. If he is okay with them, you should be too. If he is willing to risk his career, relinquish his faith, marry “beneath” or “above” his station or even give up his wish to have children, he will have to live with the consequences. If she comes with serious emotional baggage, including mental or physical illness or addictions and he loves her enough to take her as is, you need to step aside and allow him to walk the life path he chooses. We don't see the spiritual powers at work, and this experience may be invaluable in building his character and life knowledge.
There is only real red flag to be concerned about: Violence. If his girlfriend is prone to violence, she poses a risk to your son and any future children.
When to Say Something
The time to say your peace is before they reach the altar. Offer your insights without judgment or emotion—no threats, tears or tirades—or you son will close his ears. Talk to him one-on-one. Explain your concerns but follow them with, “I will respect your choice and love you no matter what.”
As his mother, you have the right to forewarn him of upcoming problems that may stem from differences in faith and other areas of incompatibility, for example. But as long as he is aware of what could be around the corner in a bad relationship, you must back off, let him make his mistakes and let him find his joy. Not allowing him the freedom to learn from his decisions is a mistake, too. In fact, if you have been too controlling throughout his upbringing, expect that this will be a time for him to establish his own independence. If you've encouraged his free will and chosen your battles wisely, he'll more likely be receptive to your sincere in-put as an adult.
How to Get Along
Be civil. If you choose to be rude and unwelcoming, this girl will do the same. One day, you will not be welcome into her home—with your son and grandchildren in it.
Be warm and approachable. Don’t be the Queen Bee to whom everyone must kowtow. It might seem amusing that you can make this new girl nervous with a sideways look, but her fear will soon turn to disdain.
Find her good points. Everyone has positive qualities. Find hers and bring them to everyone’s attention.
Ignore her faults. Would you like it if your mother-in-law harped on your faults?
Respect life differences. You two do not have to be alike, have the same habits, priorities or opinions. Embrace diversity. Look at the wondrous variety in nature.
Be glad that this girl makes your son happy. If she makes your son happy that is the greatest gift she can give you. Nothing else really matters.
Don’t criticize. Do you like it when your mother-in-law butts into your life? If you criticize, the girl—and your son—will avoid you.
Lastly, accept what comes. Your son’s girlfriend may not last in his life anyway so why make a big deal of it? And, if she does become his wife, you will have set down a solid foundation of good rapport so you needn’t worry. Instead of losing your son, you’ve gained a daughter--and a very good friend.
In-law relationships can be the most difficult, and they can destroy otherwise happy marriages, too. By seeing things from each other's perspective, you'll gain the understanding you need to let down your guard and open your hearts to new family members.
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