Parents Disapprove of Young Adult’s Romantic Relationships

How can we help our grown son choose better girlfriends? He's still living with us, and we're anxious to see him "grow up," move out on his own and get married. He's brought several girls home to meet us over the past few years, but so far he's shown very poor judgment and we haven't approved of any of them. What can we do to get things moving in the right direction?

If you really want your son to “grow up,” move out on his own and get married,” you’re going to have to make a conscious decision to start treating him as a mature, responsible adult – even when he doesn’t behave like one. He’s reached a place in his personal development where he must learn to assume responsibility for his own actions. You aren’t helping him to do this by maintaining control over his personal choices and passing judgment on his girlfriends. It’s up to him to select a marriage partner and decide what he’s going to do with the rest of his life.

You’re entitled to your opinions, of course, and there’s nothing wrong with offering a few words of advice here and there, provided you do it sensitively and tactfully. But at some point your son has to pass beyond your control and discover what it means to be accountable to God alone. To a certain extent, you need to realize that your “approval” cannot and should not be the determining factor in his love life. Your role is to support him in prayer, asking the Lord to bring to his mind the spiritual truths and moral principles you’ve instilled into him over the years.

You may find it comforting to know that you’re not the only parent who has ever struggled with this transition. Many moms and dads have difficulty “letting go” or allowing a child to separate from the parent-child relationship and move ahead into full adulthood. Be that as it may, you’re going to have to make the break at some point or another. You can take an important step in the right direction by examining your motives honestly. Ask yourselves exactly what is it that’s causing you to hang on to your son’s childhood so tightly.

Perhaps a word of social commentary will shed some helpful light on this situation for you. Many cultural analysts have noted that modern educational and economic realities have had the effect of prolonging “adolescence” in contemporary society. For a number of reasons, it’s increasingly common for young adults in their twenties to be living at home with their parents. There are pros and cons to this arrangement, of course, but there’s no denying that it places a young man or woman under a unique set of pressures – pressures that would have been unheard of in earlier generations. We mention this because we feel it’s possible that the conflicts you’re experiencing with your son may have less to do with the quality of his romantic interests than with the awkward complexities of your living situation.

As a result, we would strongly encourage you to do everything in your power to help your son get out from under your roof. Please don’t misunderstand. We’re not recommending that you “kick him out,” merely that you devote some positive energy to equipping him to launch out on his own. Once this happens, you just may find it easier to sort out the family dynamics that have been intruding themselves into your feelings about his relationships with members of the opposite sex.

If you think it might be helpful to discuss these concerns at greater length with a member of our staff, feel free to contact Focus on the Family’s Counseling department. Our counselors would be more than happy to discuss your situation with you over the phone.


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