Help son’s girl­friend, her mom bond

The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - DEAR EL­LIE A. el­liead­

Q. 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. 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 fur­ther 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 like bar­be­cue. 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.

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