My son, 16, has dated a nice girl, 17, for seven months.
They live in separate towns, go to different schools, and only see each other once a week, if lucky.
I’m always happy to drive my son to help the two teens see each other, even if it's just for a short time.
But it’s so frequent that the daughter’s grounded. Her mom never says anything nice about her daughter.
I’ve tried many times to include the girlfriend on our outings, but so often get a No, e.g. because she needs to stay home on a weekend to clean her room.
On the last day of classes, my son met his girlfriend at school to help her finish a project.
Her mother approached me in my vehicle, and asked what I was doing there. Did I know her daughter was grounded? (Again.)
We’d lent them our laptop for the project and then facilitated meeting so we could get it back.
The mother told me her daughter’s stressing her out, that she lies and hasn’t done her school work.
(She’d previously said her daughter was failing school. She's not. She has good grades).
I lost my cool a little. I said it’s ridiculous that her daughter’s always grounded.
I said you need to trust that what you've done as a parent is working and start to let them figure out some things on their own.
I felt so terrible that she was going off again about how terrible her daughter is, in front of her, me and my son.
I apologized to the mother, hugged the girl, and said I'm so sorry for what she's going through. She has very few skills in speaking for herself, and very low self-esteem.
But her mother said, I'm saying that she's a bad parent.
After yelling at her daughter that she’s a liar and cheat, she stormed off crying and mad at me.
She wouldn't let her daughter go to my son's award dinner last week. They couldn't see each other over the weekend – then this.
I want to be able to bring my son’s girlfriend with us on trips, show them fun things, share good life experiences.
Her dad travels, there’s only one older sibling. How can life be so negative?
How do I help my son continue his relationship?
Do I apologize again? I don't want to reward the mom’s horrible behaviour. I don't want the kids to be affected more by this.
The girl admitted that things are always this volatile. I suggested going to a doctor’s office and asking for help – she just looked down, like she couldn't possibly do this.
Do we two mothers just go on awkwardly, avoiding each other? The older sibling moved out in grade 12… that's a sign.
Teenager’s Negative Mom
Proceed carefully. If you push any harder, she’ll likely ban their relationship and your son will be desolate, even blame you.
Or, the girl will move out to you, which could take their relationship farther than you want, given their youth.
Yes, apologize again. The mother’s now reacting against you, which isn’t helping the girl’s situation.
Instead of telling her what she’s doing wrong, or differently from you, invite her to join your family at something casual e.g. a barbeque.
Maintain occasional contact, such as complimenting her on her daughter’s behaviour.
This mother may be especially afraid of losing her daughter to you, now that the other child’s gone, and her husband’s often away.
FEEDBACK Regarding "Wishing and Wondering"(June 22):
Reader – “Your ex likely chose you deliberately, giving him an "out" because he’s much older, when he’d leave.
“Some predators, abusers, and players deliberately stockpile grievances to use later on their victims.
“Since you’re spending time on "what-if's," remind yourself of facts.
"Radical acceptance" – a psychological reality check - helps you gain clarity and overcome unpleasant thoughts when your avoidance techniques (e.g. wishing things were otherwise) kick in.
“To get into the mind of a manipulative player who makes his target more vulnerable to his tactics, read the book "But He Says He Loves Me” by Dina L. McMillan.
“It offers insight into the mind of a player, along with what goes through the victim's mind while being drawn into the setup.
“Blaming yourself, and wondering what could’ve been different, shows you've been snowed by his game.
“Hopefully, you'll become "Accepting and Knowledgeable."
Tip of the day:
Tread carefully when dealing with negative parents of children involved with yours.