A parent’s job is tough. From the moment you know you’re going to become one, your universe shifts. Your child becomes its centre and everything you do is to keep him safe, healthy and happy. You do your best to give your little one every advantage in life. In the process, you lose sleep, give up your alone time, refuse nights out with friends, spend lots of money (very little on yourself) and worry.
And one day that child, to whom you’ve given everything and would give everything for, announces that he’s getting married. One problem: you don’t approve of his significant other. Whatever your reason, you know that person is not suitable for your child and now they are planning a life together. What do you do?
No, there’s no grand solution, or singular piece of advice on how to knock some sense into your child. But, you can protect your family (current and future) from the anger and hurt caused by dissenting opinions, by keeping your focus where it has always been – on your child’s happiness. If, as far as you can tell, he is happy (and safe, of course) you may just have to accept his choice.
Your instincts may drive you to make your opinions known, immediately, fervently, repeatedly and using questionable methods (the silent treatment is not effective, btw). But, remember two things: 1) your child is an adult, free do as he chooses, with or without your blessing, and 2) you share a great relationship with your child and you want to keep it.
Repercussions of succumbing to instinct will, very likely, be unpleasant and long-lasting. Sometimes, the results are irreparable. Though you dislike many things about your future son- or daughter-in-law and are angry at your child’s disregard, do you think they’re worth hurting your child and, possibly, destroying your relationship? And, be assured, while worry and disappointment may hurt you, your child may feel worse. The is no feeling like being a disappointment, or a source of disapproval and distress to your parents. It’s will not be easy for your child to choose their own happiness over that of those people whose views, guidance and respect, they value most.
While you may have made the decisions for your child in the past, as an adult he must now look after his own well-being. He needs the freedom to make his own choices and live with the consequences, good or bad.
I’m not suggesting you keep your opinions to yourself. Honesty is important in any relationship and children expect and need honesty from their parents most of all. As a matter of fact, disheartened parents, I think it’s important that you air your concerns – at the best time and place, with the best attitude and intentions. But, be supportive and trust that your child will choose what’s best for himself.
If you’re right and his relationship fails, you want to be there to help pick up those proverbial pieces. If you’re wrong, you should be happy that he is happy. You should also celebrate the fact that you raised a perceptive adult, strong enough to make a tough decision when needed.