Sunday, June 17, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Parents' dislike of boyfriend raises questions about family dynamics

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Parents' dislike of boyfriend raises questions about family

Q: My parents and I are really close, but they don't like my boyfriend. They won't say why. I'm planning to spend the next several months living with him. How do I keep up a nice relationship with my parents through this?

Moving In

Carolyn: What are the chances you can pry out of them the reason for their dislike? I have to think it's important, verging on everything.

Moving In again: I'm not sure if they even know. They've given me a string of petty reasons that read like a list of prejudices (he has a profile on social networking websites, so he must be looking for other women; he plays video games, so he must be irresponsible; he likes beer, so he must be an alcoholic). These are all a matter of intent and degree, and from what I've seen of him, these are things he enjoys but isn't dependent on.

My mom also started yelling at me about him one day, and later said she had no idea why she was so angry, she just couldn't stop it. If I had to guess … I had an abusive boyfriend once, and while I did get out of it by myself and got counseling, it terrified them. Even if that hadn't happened, I think it would still weird them out some to see me dating. It's really not something I ever aspired to in life, I just happened to think this guy was really special.

Carolyn: A lot going on here, then — starting with the extreme degree to which you apparently have been sheltered. It would "weird them out some to see me dating"? When I first read this, I assumed you were referring to fallout from the abusive ex, but a closer look tells me your mom just doesn't want to let go, and you were primed to comply until you met your current boyfriend.

Whom you apparently don't know too well: "from what I've seen of him ... "?

Again, much to parse here.

To show respect for your mom while asserting your right to think for yourself, assure her that you take her concerns seriously, especially ones she's able to articulate and support. Say you want to keep the topic open so you both feel free to say what's on your minds. That way she'll know you're listening, which might help her relax, which in turn might help her sort out her reaction.

It will also take the pressure off you to prove to her that your boyfriend is okay — which is often the first step in missing warning signs, since you become invested in seeing only the good things about him.

Moving In again: I guess I should have kept the lines of communication open, but I finally told them I wasn't going to talk to them about him anymore. They always read evil into everything, even if it was just a list of fun things I'd done that weekend. It just got too much for my mental health.

Carolyn: You say you got therapy after the abusive relationship, right? Please consider going back to explore your family dynamics. Controlling parent(s) + controlling ex + possibly rushed new relationship = much to discuss.

Comments

Tell Me About It: After years of depression, a diagnosis

Q: I’m 33 and have dealt with depression on and off since my adolescence. I grew up in a household with every kind of abuse you can think of, but I didn’t start seeking help until my early 20s via talk therapy, and cut ties entirely with my abusers. ...
Published: 06/17/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of June 18-24

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of June 18-24

St. Pete Pride: One of the largest Pride celebration in the Southeast happens this weekend, bringing a rainbow of activities. Things set off on Friday with the free SP2 Concert at North Straub Park, hosted by Coco Montrese of RuPaul’s Drag Race and f...
Published: 06/15/18
Updated: 06/16/18

Tell Me About It: Pregnancy news confirms estrangement

Q: I just found out my son and his wife are going to be parents. I’m very excited and somewhat confused and a little hurt: She’s seven months along. I don’t know why the long wait to tell me. They live in another state, and I haven’t seen them in abo...
Published: 06/15/18

Tell Me About It: Sister must face her poor choices in men

Q: Last night, I received my umpteenth call from my sobbing, devastated sister (mid-20s) over yet another semi-hookup-flirty-thing guy that didn’t work out. He is moving away and she found out via an announcement at work, not from him.This is a years...
Published: 06/15/18
High-tech nighttime lagoon show coming to Universal Orlando this summer

High-tech nighttime lagoon show coming to Universal Orlando this summer

A gliding, wraith-like figure of a Dementor from the Harry Potter films enters Central Park, and the exteriors of the surrounding buildings immediately are covered in a layer of ice, a sign of their power to drain happiness out of the air around them...
Published: 06/14/18
Things to do this weekend: Father’s Day, Maroon 5, The Illusionists, Mr. Rogers film, fireworks at Busch Gardens

Things to do this weekend: Father’s Day, Maroon 5, The Illusionists, Mr. Rogers film, fireworks at Busch Gardens

HolidayFather’s Day: Sunday brings us a day to honor the guy who cheered us on, called us down and blamed us for his bald spot. It’s Father’s Day! A number of local attractions are offering free admission for dads if at least one ungrateful progeny t...
Published: 06/14/18

Tell Me About It: Group resists suggestion of sober vacation

Q: I have a friend I have known since high school who has recently been in recovery for drinking. He is about six weeks into an outpatient system and has been doing well. A group of friends including my friend in recovery have been going on two campi...
Published: 06/14/18
Top things to do this week: Father’s Day freebies, Summer Circus Spectacular, Gelatin Plunge

Top things to do this week: Father’s Day freebies, Summer Circus Spectacular, Gelatin Plunge

NOTE: This item has been updated to reflect the correct start time of 7 p.m.SQUISHY: Gelatin PlungeRaise money for a cancer charity and you, too, could plummet down a slide into more than 2,000 gallons of orange gelatin before a party with live music...
Published: 06/13/18
Updated: 06/15/18
‘Incredibles 2’ just might be better than the original — and a cure to superhero fatigue

‘Incredibles 2’ just might be better than the original — and a cure to superhero fatigue

It’s been 14 years since the premiere of Brad Bird’s beloved animated superhero film The Incredibles, one of the mega-hit Pixar films that cemented its reputation for film humor and heart that would satisfy both parents and children. With cool mid-ce...
Published: 06/13/18
This week’s best Tampa Bay concerts: Maroon 5, Joan Jett, Styx and more

This week’s best Tampa Bay concerts: Maroon 5, Joan Jett, Styx and more

MANY VOICES: Maroon 5Remember when Adam Levine crooned the hook on Kanye West’s 2005 single Heard ’Em Say? Feels like a lifetime ago; it’s hard to imagine ’Ye and the Maroon 5 frontman booking studio time together in 2018. Or at least, it would be, i...
Published: 06/13/18