11-15-2022 01:57 PM
Hi...my almost 19 year old daughter has started her 1st serious relationship with a boy, and she refers to him as her boyfriend. This is all a natural evolution of her growth and journey as a young woman. She has a solid foundation as a person who has the tools to make decisions with clarity. The young man seems decent, and from what I have witnessed treats her well. But, instantly when I see anything (his shoes, backpack, etc.) I get filled with anxiety. The issue is, I am not adjusting well to this new stage of her life, and it is causing a big rift between my daughter and I well as my wife and I.. The 3 of us have had open, transparent conversations regarding this issue....while I can clearly and objectively understand this is life, and her life... I see and hear what she says, I still find I am not coping well ( I have tried counselling, I meditate, exercise, .... anything I can to try and acknowledge what I am feeling and then clear the thoughts from my mind)....
It pains me, because the only thing that truly matters to me is my family! and I know that I am just pushing away my daughter and wife, because I am not being the father and husband and positive presence that they can count on.
I guess I wrote this in an attempt to see if anyone else has had similar issues, and how they have gone about their respective paths to heal, to cope, to accept....etc..
11-15-2022 10:26 PM
Hi @yrrep and welcome to our online community!
Thank you for sharing a little bit about your situation with us. I'm sorry to hear that you are experiencing this right now. It sounds like it has been a really difficult time for you all, especially after hearing that is has been causing a rift between you all. I can hear just how much you care about your family and can only imagine how hard all of this has been for you. It really does sound like a lot to be going through right now. I was wondering if you have been able to share these thoughts with your wife or daughter at all?
It can be incredibly hard and even scary when your own child starts dating, so I think its completely understandable that you have been feeling such anxiety over this. Do you mind me asking if there is anything in particular that worries you about it?
If you are interested in having a bit of a read, we have a couple of articles on Relationships and Teenagers and I wonder if maybe they might be able to give you some ideas on what you can do. I also came across this article on Relationships which talks about how you can support your teenager, which might also be helpful to have a read of.
I am mindful of the impact this must all be having on you and wonder what supports you have around you right now. You mentioned that you have tried counselling, did you find that this helped at all?
I just want to remind you that you're not alone and we're all here for you.
11-15-2022 11:32 PM
Welcome to the parents' forum. Have you been here before? I'm Mum to an 18 year old son and a 16 year old daughter and I come here quite regularly to check out a few things for myself but also to share with other parents in the same you would over a coffee in person. My kids aren't dating atm and I haven't been through the feelings you describe myself. However, one of my close friends from school whose daughters are a couple of years older, is now an empty nester and she was really missing her girls for a while and went through what I'd describe as a phase of grief. To me, that is understandable and she's worked through it now and is fine with it all. Maybe to help you get through this, maybe you and your wife could go on a few special dates and have say a family dinner night once a week with the three of you and maybe sometimes invite the boyfriend. Letting go as our children grow up is inevitable and not easy.
My daughter is likely to leave the country with her career options and give me a couple of years and I'll be going through the grieving process too, although my husband and I are also looking forward to regaining our independence and being able to travel.
I hope this helps, although it sounds like your grief is running deep and you are quite distressed.
Anyway, it's good you've come to this space where you can share what you're feeling and I really commend you on wanting to work through your feelings to protect the good relationships you have with your wife and daughter.
11-16-2022 02:35 PM
Firstly, can I just say that I think your reaction is quite normal. A new person is coming onto your life and affecting your family dynamics, and potentially influencing how you relate to your daughter. So it is to be expected. Just be kind to yourself and most of all be kind to your daughter and her boyfriend. By being accepting, you will be involved in their life more. If your not, then they will keep out of your way. You will get used to it over time.
11-16-2022 08:38 PM
Thanks very much for taking the time to reflect on my post, and share your thoughts. Yes, I have shared with my wife. She is much more relaxed with this topic, knowing that long before I came into their lives, 7 years ago, that she has raised her/our daughter with love and respect and equipted her with the tools to negotiate the process of growing up to be an independent and empowered person. I see all that, and while she still has a lot of growing up to do ( and so do I ) at her core she is a quality human being, treats people kindly....for this I am blessed. She is not overtly doing anything "wrong" or "inappropriate", other than exploring a relationship with a boy, that is from my outsider perspective, is just deeper/special than any dating previously.
My "worries" are my worries...I'm projecting or getting in my head of things that are natural. In it's most simple terms, it annoys me that someone is more than likely being intimate with her...with her concent. It's a complete normal process of growing into her life journey. She knows about safety and accountability in this area. The more I think of this, then I resent this young man (who for all intents and purposes has been and treats my daughter respectively) . When he's at our home, I can't sleep, and I end up just seething at what is or isn't happening.
I know this is only pushing both my daughter and wife away...I am still doing counselling, and my daughter said she was open to going with me...which I really appreciate, and makes me believe that she is aware of my struggles...but I should be the one to be the rock for her and my wife. That saddens my that I have not handled myself better...and let my insecurities rule the narrative over the 5 weeks when this became know to us....i.e. her relationship. Thanks for sharing the other references.
11-16-2022 11:02 PM
It's natural for you to want to protect your daughter, and for you to grieve the closeness the three of you shared before he came along, but it's also good that you've acknowledged that your reaction is over the top and you're working to reach a better equilibrium. We are not at the mercy of our thoughts and feelings but we can learn to reign the is the purpose of native behavioural therapy. When you find yourself with repetitive unwanted thoughts, try to put something else in there and break the cycle. Maybe think about a few things ou are grateful for. This young man could also be a blessing in your life and maybe you could go and do something with him like going fishing, or maybe the four of you could go for a bushwalk.
A friend of mine's daughter recently got a boyfriend and he hit the roof. she's about 14 and they're just holding hands and going to youth group together so nothing dramatic. But his whole psyche changed and it was a wake up call. Fortunately, he has some good friends and they spoke positively about the young man and I think he's going through some similar views to yourself although at a younger age level. He has to be careful too in my mind because just as the young man is under his microscope, the door swings both ways and young people talk and he could end up copping flack.
I am also in a situation where a very close friend of mine recently got married. It's his second marriage and he's been single the whole time I've known him and has been there for many people and has even had people in need staying in his house. This guy is almost pure gold. We've all been able to ring him up and talk about stuff and send a text without having someone looking over his shoulder. He's had the time and space in his life that most of us don't have. There's a very real possibility that he's going to move away and we're all dreading that. It's a case of I'll face that when I come to it but we were all there at their wedding and really genuinely happy for them both and I get on quite well with his wife and look forward to getting to know her better. I have also had a number of old friends cross my path again so that's going to help too.
Maybe broadening your social circle might be something to consider as well.
Hope this helps and I really admire you for seeing the psychologist, talking to your wife and daughter about your feelings and coming here. Just making those steps alone are significant.