My daughter, 19, is working at a wilderness camp as a senior counsellor responsible for early-teenage girls. She has long talked of wanting a social work-related career.
Her boyfriend of three years is at the same camp, with senior responsibilities for similar-age boys.
My daughter writes me about the great times when the staff get together. She and her boyfriend are among several other “long-term couples.”
She’s recently mentioned making a change to her current first-year admission to the university that had been her first choice.
She’s now suggesting that she reapply to the same university as her boyfriend.
My husband and I are concerned that, when she’ll need to learn to manage the expectations of higher education, she’ll be focused more on her relationship.
Most parents who have “been there” regarding first-year students, say that, unless your “freshman” child is unusually devoted to their studies, there’s “a lot of fun, drinking, and partying.”
We want our daughter to be happy and pursuing all the opportunities for her own goals within her chosen field of study.
But I fear that changing schools for the sake of a still-young relationship, and relying on that connection to last, can be a terrible mistake.
What if he breaks up with her for his own reasons? There’s been no formal commitment between them beyond hanging out together... until now, when she’s got her mind on him more than on her own future.
Important Advice Needed
The timing of decisions regarding changing schools to be with her boyfriend, is important for your daughter, but not for you.
Of course, you’re concerned, as it’s a time when she’ll be considering many different options...e.g., does she expect her boyfriend to solely hang out with her?
Chat casually, and you’ll know more. But tread carefully, or she’ll think you’re not trusting her relationship.
Also, don’t present the potential for negative results. Just ask her if she’s certain she won’t be sorry to not attend the first school where she was accepted.
Once she’s home, include your husband to chat all together about her plans.
At some point, she should be asked “what if,” in case being with her boyfriend at the same school - when she’d originally selected elsewhere - was mostly a choice to please him more than herself.
If she’s as smart as you think, she’ll start thinking about that as well.
But remember... she can likely enter her original choice of school and preferred program, the following year.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the mother worried about her daughter’s new school principal (July31):
“She says nothing about the ages of the student and the principal (then a much younger teacher).
“Before the mid-70s, many people were as young as 19 when they started teaching.
“Students could have been almost that age, especially when we had the extra Grade 13. I had several 20-year-old students when teaching at 23.
“We now have strict rules about teacher/student relationships whatever their respective ages.
“My father was a private singing teacher in his 60s, twice widowed, when my 2O-year-old mother came for lessons. They married within the year, had three children and were very happy together until his death at 91.
“Only in recent decades have we decided that teenagers and women in their 20s shouldn’t have relationships with anyone older or having the slightest authority over them.
“This principal married the student. Worried Mother has no evidence that he’d pursued other girls.
“The daughter should be taught to recognize and resist inappropriate sexual behaviour, wherever she encounters it.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the issue raised by “Positive Peter” (Aug. 3):
Reader – “My own experience with more severe treatment from my partner is that this negativity is deeply entrenched. A turnaround won’t happen over dinner out together, regardless of how caring the fellow may be.
“I worry for his sake that this woman has adopted her behavior (subconsciously) and can’t change it without a significant jolt to her mindset.
“I suspect that she’s unable to see her own worth, and a nasty ‘worm’ in her thinking causes her to diminish his value, so her own becomes relatively greater. How does someone fix that?”
Ellie - Knowing her background and/or what else contributed to her negativity, he could try to have empathy for her low opinion of herself.
He won’t be able to “jolt” her mindset, but a practicing mental health professional can do it, if she’ll attend one.
Tip of the day:
Romantic relationships between late-teens/young adults can be very supportive, if couples keep up with their studies.