Question from Janice in Maine:
My daughter has been seeing a man for 10 months… We have met him twice, he seemed nice. I know "about" him, but would like to get to know him as he is clearly important to my daughter. When I mention dinner or coffee or anything, she puts me off… I respect the fact that she is an adult but why is she choosing to keep us out and how can we get to know him?
Fran Harris' Advice:
Janice, I've helped thousands of parents work through this challenge and hope this quick 3-step gameplan supports you.
Step 1: Get Close
Find an activity that you and your daughter can do that feels very organic and natural for both of you. This can be lunch, shopping, gardening or whatever activity that puts you both at ease. If lunch ain't your thing, don't do lunch. If for some reason you don't live in the same city as your daughter, try a phone call or SKYPE (a free online service that allows you to have a live video chat).
Step 2: Get Personal
Keep the conversation light and let her talk about whatever's on her mind. It shouldn't feel like an indictment or a setup. If she senses you're fishing, you're dead in the water. So, don't get too eager.
Step 3: Get Real
The key is to cement your relationship. It's really not about you getting the information you want. When folks feel safe enough to share, they typically do. However, when you spot that opening in the conversation to ask about the boyfriend, here's what I recommend you say: "I love you and nothing means more to me than your happiness and safety. So, when it feels right for you, we'd love to get to know your boyfriend better."
It's essential that you use the phrase "when it feels right for you" because she has to feel that this is happening on her terms. She can't be pressured or untrusted. She can't feel that you don't like him. And unless you have reason to believe that her life is in danger, I truly recommend simply being a loving and patient mother.
Remember, relationships first, information second. Keep your love for her in focus and let it lead all discussions going forward.
Amy Kean's Advice:
Sorry for not sugarcoating but here goes: Back off Mom!
Most daughters avoid the inevitable, dreaded "meeting" for one of two sensible reasons: A) They're worried their parents will humiliate them by blurting out statements like, "We're just so relieved to see our daughter this happy, because in college she hardly ever dated and rarely left her dorm room, except to eat."; Or B) they're worried their boyfriends will embarrass them by saying things like, "I'm currently looking into debt consolidation."
Let's consider your facts: She's only been dating this guy for ten (short!) months; You describe your daughter as an "adult" so I'm assuming she's over twenty-one; You've already met her boyfriend TWICE and you report that he seemed "nice"; And still, you're writing in to GMA to try and figure out a way to arrange an awkward extended family get-together—before your daughter's ready.
Are you honestly still wondering why your daughter's putting you off? Hint: maybe you're being a bit overzealous.
You also write that you "respect" that she's an adult…blah, blah, blah. Are you sure? Because part of respecting your adult daughter is trusting in her judgment when it comes to her personal—private—life.
If you honestly love your daughter—and want her to be happy—you'll just sit back and be patient. Give her some space and time to cultivate this new relationship. If you force the issue by nagging her or even worse, reaching out to her boyfriend behind her back, I promise you it'll backfire, big time.
As a mom myself, I expect that—in about twenty years—I'll probably end up trying to interfere in my son's love life too. Keep in mind, the trick to being a good parent is remembering how it felt to be the child.