I was talking to a friend the other day- the incident she was talking about and the ensuing discussions have been tossing around in my mind for awhile. I still don’t know how I’m going to express my ideas today, so bear with me. I know there will be a point eventually.

My friends 19 year old college daughter was dating a guy she knew in High School. They didn’t date in hs, but were “best friends” ( I italicize this because that is probably going to be a whole other blog). While they were at two separate colleges in two separate states that are reasonably far apart for a college student they decided to begin dating.

The dating began a few months ago- with girl A going to visit boy B. Fine. He then asked her to come back for his frat formal in April and then again for his graduation in May. Let’s start out with how much grief this caused my friend. She did not understand why her daughter was going to either of these events. I looked at her: why wouldn’t a guy want his girlfriend to be at these events? And why wouldn’t the girl want to go?

Well, it turned out this was all a red herring. She didn’t care about the events. She just doesn’t like the guy. Apparently he’s a history major (the shame and the horror) and he’s not going to go to law school (NOOOO) and his parents are questionable. They make too much money and go to the Caribbean too much. (Can you imagine New Yorkers wanting to go to the tropics? For shame) And the big thing was – “he doesn’t have ambition. He’s not a go getter like my daughter.” Side note- perfectly nice girl, lots of adjectives to describe her but go getter is not one I would add to the list. And then the kicker: “How will he support my daughter?”

See- she was already thinking they’d get married. Because, you know, they were dating for three months in college.  And that is surely exactly what every 19 and 21 year old are thinking. (sidenote- my friend married her first real boyfriend from college- unsuccessfully I might add)

so…

Are we allowed to have expectations of who our children date? Are we allowed to have expectations of how those relationships will play out? Outside of abusive relationships, do we have the right to tell out children who they can and can not date?

My Husband is Jewish and I am Catholic. I think both sets of parents would have preferred that we married within our actual faiths. They didn’t say anything directly, but there have been some passive aggressive references from my Mother in Law over the years. Trust me: she is not thrilled that we put Christmas decorations up. I know this because she actually said “Why are there Christmas things up?” She has commented about how we eat ham on Easter (from the woman who lives on bacon, but all of a sudden its bad to eat pork….) I am pretty positive she is not happy about my daughter attending a Catholic college….

My MIL expected her son to marry a Jewish girl. Is this wrong?

My friend expects her daughter to marry the first guy she’s in a relationship? Wrong?

My friend expects her daughter to marry someone who will make a lot of money. Is this wrong?

What can and should we expect from the pairings our children make?

77 thoughts on “Really?

  1. We do expect things don’t we. As I read this post I realized that we place a sense of ownership over our kids. They are extensions of ourselves and thus we feel as parents that we can control them, tell them what is acceptable, how to live their life and we get to be offended and all angry when they don’t!
    Does growing a child to be a good, decent, caring person influence that sense of ownership? I mean we invest some much time in them, it’s our job. Just like we take ownership of projects and work life, we do the same with our career called children…

    The issues come when we can’t see this, or we can’t see ourselves and be honest and admit to certain expectations, but then let them go. Some parents can never let go.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. We forget that even though we’re parents for life, it’s an 18 year temp job….once they become adults, we really can’t expect them to follow the path we want them too…..yet…….

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Haha! I suddenly seem to be finding myself wandering down that “yet” path with my 34 yo daughter who is having a career crisis. Feeling bored, unfulfilled and questioning her decision of a nursing career. So far I’m pretty pleased with myself for following a clear pro/con, don’t rush, explore other things, it’s your decision path as she sends another email asking me for “mom advice” !!!!!

        Liked by 3 people

    1. You know…the things I’ve heard parents say….I mean, sometimes it’s observational about the way someone is, and sometimes it’s a general dislike of something about them

      Like

  2. Speaking as a rep for the generation that’s gone through this, one of my friends recommends the following philosophy: wear beige and keep your mouth shut. This, of course, is easier said than done! 😏

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I think there are definitely levels of concern a parent experiences when their kid is dating. But I think your friend is doing her kid and herself no favors by blueprinting this relationship. Let it be, let the kids be kids.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I will always be concerned about who my kids date, but… and this is something it has taken a lot of BS in my family and with my oldest to come to terms with… ultimately, it doesn’t matter what I think. The ONLY thing that matters, and should be the only thing that matters, is if my kids are safe, healthy and happy (the top three of my 4 life rules). If any of those things are in question, then I feel like I get to say something, otherwise I don’t get any say because it is their life. They will live it how they want. I can and will point out some red flags if I see them in a relationship and help them to see potential problems, but what they do with that information is on them. Me having expectations about who they date will only cause friction and issues between me and my kids and I’d much rather have a happy, strong relationship with them than be pissy because they didn’t pick someone I deem worthy, as if my judgement is more important than theirs.

    Liked by 7 people

  5. I think your friend is nutty. Her daughter is 19 and in college. She isn’t running off to get married. My question is why on earth is this mom inserting herself into her daughter’s love life and being judgmental over a college boy her kid is dating? Honestly, some parents are just ridiculous. I suppose I go to the other extreme and et my children make their own decisions. Probably because I had a mother like this woman. She was judgmental over every boy I dated in high school and threatened to take me out of college and stop paying my tuition when I started to date a boy who wasn’t Jewish. The interesting thing is she pushed me in the direction of ONLY looking for guys of my own faith. So when I found one I liked, I got married in college at age 20. His mom did the same thing. Had we just dated we probably would have seen each other for a while and then moved on. But instead we married because our parents approved and encouraged it.. That marriage lasted only 5 years and we had one child. We were way too young to get married!!!!!! Now don’t get me wrong. I am still friends with my first husband to this day, and I think having my oldest child was one of the greatest decisions of my life, BUT… had his parents and mine just stayed out of it, I would not have spent years as a struggling single mother. I would have waited, met someone different and probably lived an easier life. I married again when my oldest son was ten and my mother again did not like my choice. She had a heart attack (or at least faked one) when she learned that I married a gentile. OY! The pressure my parents put on me was stressful and didn’t help my relationships at all. I do think that behavior was/is very generational. But, apparently it is still happening today.(example with the friend you have).
    I just want my sons to date and marry whoever makes them happy. I never even worried about their choices when they were in college and because of that neither son had a serious relationships at that time. They were too focused on their goals. My oldest son is now married and has three kids. My youngest is 15 years his junior and only 30. He is still single and just broke up with his most recent girlfriend because in the film business there is so much traveling it is difficult to keep relationships going. Anyhow… I have learned that letting your children make their own choices is the best way to handle things. Pressuring them or being critical will only cause resentment .

    Of course it is easier when couples are of the same faith but love has no bounds. Opposites attract. And so we need to let go and allow our adult children to spread their wings, make their own choices, and fall in love with whoever they want. AND college is college. A time for exploration and learning.

    Sorry your Jewish mother in law is such a pain. My gentile mom in law was a real pain too. I think some moms don’t like to give up their sons. My MIL was actually anti semitic and it bothered her that her son married a Jewish girl. I was always hearing snide remarks. The best revenge was when my son did a DNA test and discovered he was actually 75percent Jewish not 50 percent and that her husband was part Jewish but didn’t know it. That was the best. Seeing my MIL Realize her own children were part Jewish made her choke on a meal. Sweet revenge. ahahaha
    The reality is…. Who the heck cares what anyone is as long our children are happy. Let’s toast to happy, healthy,wise children!!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Completely agree. The snide comments my mil makes…..I love when she uses Yiddish in front of me….anything to make me feel uncomfortable. And trust me, I told my friend to back off….but to be fair, she inserts herself into all aspects of her kids lives, and I mean all. She also told her daughter that a certain guy wasn’t her type….I mean….really….

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ugh! I am so sorry you have to deal with your mother in law! My mother was not very kind to my brother’s wife and when she died my sister in law did not attend the funeral. (She wasn’t a hypocrite). My nieces came with my brother but my sister in law never forgave my mother for not liking her based on her not being Jewish.. I personally think my sister in law carried it to the extreme. But i understand that it’s hurtful when in laws are unkind or are passive aggressively nasty. I have to be honest, my son’s wife wouldn’t have been my choice for him, but she’s his choice so I bite my tongue when she says some crazy stuff and I am always gracious. Sometimes it’s not easy, but it’s the right thing to do. My son married her and loves her. My grandkids are wonderful so she’s doing something right. As mother in laws we need to keep our opinions to ourselves unless we are asked.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. We never worried about our children’s friends. We always liked the people they were dating, and we liked the ones they married. Maybe we were too unconcerned, but I don’t think we would have swayed them toward or away from anyone.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. This is an interesting question, and I’m enjoying the comments, too. So many thoughtful answers. I think we can all agree it’s okay to weigh in with a negative opinion if the person is dangerous physically or emotionally.
    Otherwise, I think a parent should only give an opinion if the ‘child’ asks for it.
    My parents allowed me to make my own decisions/mistakes which may have been the wrong thing to do in that era, but today’s college aged young adults are more worldly that I was.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I had a lousy first marriage, but there’s all sorts of emotional parental baggage surrounding that one…but I think kids need to make their own choices, and we need to stand by them

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m just saying in retrospect, my parents knew some of my decisions were flawed and made for the wrong reasons, but they only told me after the fact. I think they should have said something but still allowed me to make the ultimate decision.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m iffy about that. I’m not sure how much opinion should be said, but I’ve blogged about that before. I always wonder what the line of truth is. I’ll never have an answer that satisfies me

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Expectations. I know I have expectations of my niece but l also know that these probably won’t come true bcause its not what SHE wants. We want the best for our kids which is great but we need to give them room to be themselves and take the road they are meant to walk. Not the road we think they should walk.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. We almost all have expectations and fears and so we attempt to control life in all these silly and tragic and giant and small ways. Parents often seem to want to control ‘the items they made’, which they can sometimes see as their extended selves in the world–their children–more or less depending on their own lives and maturity and good will or not good will. Good luck to all.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. To me, it’s like good parents are the experienced managers until the kids can gain the skills to function on their own and make their own sink-or-swim. The goal would be to create self-functioning managers of them, iof you know what I mean–

        Liked by 2 people

  10. My eldest daughter (now 32) has been in two serious relationships and I didn’t like either one of the guys (one was 10 years older and an alcoholic/addict) and the other was someone she knew from high school but who had already had 3! children with another woman whom he hadn’t married plus had a pretty serious medical condition (epilepsy not well controlled). Both times I expressed the fact that I wasn’t fond of the guy and pointed out my reasons – however, I also said that I wasn’t the one living with them and that the most important thing was that she be happy. The relationships both ended pretty badly. My family was not so happy with my husband at first because I had dated his loser alcoholic brother and they were judging my husband on his brother’s actions. Now I think my husband is the favorite of all four sibling’s mates and I know that I have a better marriage than two of my sisters. I agree with other commenters that the most important thing is keeping a good relationship with your child.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I think we can and should have hopes for our children. Expectations, though, sound like we’re thinking more of our own interests than our children’s. Is the real concern that the potential spouse with modest aspirations doesn’t offer mom enough bragging rights? All expectations and many hopes should be kept to ourselves—it’s not our life.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. To be fair…I don’t t think this mom will be happy with any of the partners her children pick….she’s unrealistic and doesn’t see her kids as individuals

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Yes, you just cannot please some people. No matter how hard you try. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having discussions with your adult child about their partner, you just can’t tell them what choices to make. For instance my youngest son was dating a gal who traveled so much for work that he was alone a lot and I asked “Do you think it’s realistic having a long distance relationship? “ his answer”Probably not, but I’m so crazy about her I want to give it a try.” I told him. “ I respect that. Well for about a year and a half he tried it but he saw her so rarely that he finally decide to start dating again. So discussions can be helpful, however we have to allow them to make their own decisions.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I don’t know…I don’t have kids 🙂 but my mum for example never told me if I’m wrong or right – in case of marriages. That’s why I was married 3 times lol maybe if she said no – I wouldn’t.
    She actually didn’t like my first 2 (ex) husbands haha

    Liked by 2 people

  14. My mother offered my husband $1000 to walk away at our wedding. In hindsight, he should have taken it. But that is a whole different story. With my own kids, I can give lots of advice, but I don’t tell them what to do or be with. If they’re happy, I’m happy.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Your friend sounds a bit like a helicopter parent. Hopefully, her daughter will show some independence and become her own woman. But she is a millennial……..:-) Sometimes, it’s best to just keep a closed mouth and let our children make the mistakes we know they’re going to make. It’s really the only way they learn. That said, I don’t see anything wrong with parents trying to guide and offer advice…knowing their child is free to take it or not. The MIL issue is not quite so clear. it probably does hurt to have her be passive aggressive (or maybe aggressive) in her comments and preferences. I hope you stay strong in your faith and convictions and not let her bully you. After all….Jesus was a Jew! 🙂 Thank you for stopping by my place and leaving a comment. I enjoyed reading your post today.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank You! And helicopter is an understatement….I think she would still be cutting their food if she could….I’ve talked to her about this but she doesn’t see it. I just don’t want her to alienate her kids. And my MIL….yeah….good times

      Like

  16. Gosh. I would just want them to be a good match together and for him to obviously clearly love her and have real plans for the future. My grandma didn’t want my dad to marry my mom because she wasn’t Catholic. She tried to set him up with the nice Catholic girl down the street, but no dice. I’m glad he married my mom, obviously. And, my mom ended up converting. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I think that the only thing we can expect is that it is not our choice who our children date. I ❤️ my daughter’s boyfriend. I hope they get married. My son is single now but his girlfriends were wonderful too. I worried more about what their mothers thought of him. lol.

    On a side note, my mother didn’t like my husband when we first started dating. She tried to set me up with my ex she did like by taking me out to eat and surprising me with him there. It was awful! The guy was crying. Maybe I should write a post about that.

    I’m sure that everything will work out the way it should and if it doesn’t, as parents we should be there to help pick up the pieces and offer support. Unless our kids are in danger we shouldn’t say much unless they ask.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. No, they have different characters so we shouldn’t wait for them to ask. I usually started a conversation with a moral story than just gave them the advise. Hardest part of being parents is always when they are teenagers. It was very hard.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. I think people seem to have a problem separating want and expect. I know what I want for my kids in all phases of their lives (you never stop being a parent) but I EXPECT them to make good choices for themselves. You hurt for them when they don’t work because you want the best for them. I expect them to work hard have fun and fall in love with someone who loves them.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s it exactly….we think of want and expect as the same thing, and that gets us into trouble. We have to remember they need to make their own choices

      Like

  19. Yeah, Jews and ham. Most of us eat bacon and sausage when we’re out for breakfast (heaven forbid at home), but for some reason I’ve noticed there’s this whole thing about ham amongst my tribe. It’s never made much sense to me. Sorry for your MIL; she sounds like a real boatload of fun. – Marty

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s