How to Accept Your Son's Girlfriend
The Maternal Instinct
The human family is like a wolf pack. There is a social hierarchy with a code of acceptance or rejection. When a son introduces a new female into his world, mothers instinctually take caution, and fears and questions arise. Who is this unfamiliar creature that has attracted our son’s attention? Will she be good for him? Will she take him away from us?
It is natural to feel territorial, especially for a mother over her child. This is the reason why so many mother and daughter-in-law relationships become estranged, and there is a tug-of-war with an unhappy male in the middle of it all. Young ladies attempt to prove their worth while mothers can be highly critical of whoever seems to be trying to replace her in her son’s life.
Even if these feelings come from good intentions, mothers would be well advised to use care in their interactions with their children’s dates since it's possible for the relationship to become long-term. Here is what to keep in mind when you're mistrustful of your son's significant other.
What to Do When You Dislike Your Son's Girlfriend
- Reflect on why you feel the way you do. Do you truly have a reason to believe she is a threat to your son's wellbeing? Are you quick to criticize her because you feel protective? Are you comparing her to someone else?
- Get to know her better. Before jumping to any conclusions, take the time to learn more about her and why your son has chosen her. Look for her merit.
- Determine whether her flaws are actually harmful. What may seem unpleasant or difficult to you may not be a conflict to your son or his future. Have patience with behaviors that may subside with time, age, and maturity—and, remember that no one is perfect.
- Talk to your son if you genuinely feel his wellbeing is at stake. Express your concerns respectfully, then listen to his side of the story with an open mind.
- Accept his decision. Even if you still dislike her, pushing your opinion may only drive your son away. Allow him to make up his own mind and handle the consequences that follow. If it's truly an unhealthy relationship, it likely won't last anyway.
How to Accept Her for Who She Is
- Go beyond the first impression. How many times have we misjudged someone based on superficial factors? Remember that there's more to her personality than just her clothing, car, education, or career. Get to know her as an individual.
- Let her be herself. Do you remember how difficult it was to face the judgment of your husband’s mother and family? No one likes to feel shamed. Everyone has the right to be themselves without anyone else’s approval, including yours.
- Focus on what makes her special. Everyone has positive qualities, even if it takes a little time to find them. Look for the traits your son loves about her and bring them to everyone’s attention.
- Ignore her faults. Remember that everyone has their flaws as well. Would you like it if your mother-in-law harped on your weaknesses? Be patient and don't expect her to be perfect.
- Don’t criticize or impose your opinion. Do you like it when your mother-in-law butts into your life and tells you what to do? If you do this, both the girl and your son will avoid you.
- Respect life differences. You two do not have to share the same habits, priorities, or opinions. Embrace diversity and learn from her unique perspective.
- Let the relationship be what it will be. Your son’s girlfriend may not last in his life anyway, so why make a big deal of it now? Let him enjoy this chapter of love. If she does become his wife, think of the good that will come of it after you have built a foundation of good rapport. Instead of losing your son, you may gain a daughter and even a very good friend.
- Support your son’s decision. In the end, your opinion will not win out. It is his life and happiness that matters. He will appreciate your support and resent your disapproval.
- Be grateful she makes your son happy. If she makes him feel fulfilled, that is the greatest gift she can give you. Nothing else really matters.
Instead of losing your son, you may gain a daughter and even a very good friend.
How to Build a Relationship with Her
- Be warm and approachable. Don’t be the Queen Bee to whom everyone must kowtow. It might seem amusing that you can make this new girl nervous with a sideways look, but her fear will soon turn to disdain. If you choose to be rude and standoffish, she will do the same to you.
- Offer some reassurance. Calm her nerves with a friendly gesture, compliment, or a simple reminder that she is welcome in your family. Do what you can to make her feel at home so that she can relax and put her best self forward.
- Reach out and make the effort. Get off to a good start by striking up friendly conversation and demonstrating your genuine desire to know her better.
- Use humor. The easiest way to break tension is to share a laugh. Break the ice with some funny family stories and invite her to share her own memories with your son.
- Encourage your other children to get to know her. Give her time to ease into the family by getting to know your son's siblings. Parents are intimidating!
- Give her your contact info. This gesture shows you care about her and want to know her personally. The option of alternative communication may also put her at ease, especially if she's on the shy side. You may be delighted to receive a "thank you for dinner" text, which may turn into a pleasant conversation without the pressure of the whole family hearing.
- Spend quality time together. Invite her to participate in family activities or offer to be more involved in her life, such as coming to watch her sports match or play. She will appreciate you showing your support of her hobbies and interests.
- Find out what you have in common. If nothing else, what you two will always share is the love for your son.
Questions to Ask Your Son's Girlfriend
Here are some ideas to lighten the mood and make her feel welcome.
Casual Ice Breakers
- What's something fun that you and (your son) have done lately?
- Have you ever been to (your family vacation spot)?
- What's your favorite food? Do you have a recipe we could all cook together?
- When is your birthday? We'd love to add it to our calendar.
- Where is your hometown? What is it like there?
- What was your favorite class in school?
- What's your dream job?
- Do you have a favorite board game to play next time?
- What do you love to do?
What NOT to Ask
- Invasive or insensitive questions about the relationship, her personal life, or her background.
- Questions about her commitment or plans for the relationship.
- Her views on sensitive or controversial topics such as religion or politics.
- Details about her income and finances.
- Any questions that may come across as judgmental or accusatory.
If you feel you need to know intimate details about her, ask your son in private. Never put her on the spot, especially when other family members are present.
When to Be Alarmed
Young lovers are blind to serious red flags in their relationships which is why mothers become so alarmed when they see what they perceive to be poor choices, but it’s important to refrain from being petty. Her clothing, car, finances, education, family background, and hobbies are compatibility matters for your son to think about. If he is okay with them, you should be too.
If he is willing to risk his career, relinquish his faith, marry “beneath” or “above” his station or even give up his wish to have children, he will have to live with the consequences. If she comes with serious emotional baggage, including mental or physical illness or addictions and he loves her enough to take her as is, you need to step aside and allow him to walk the life path he chooses. We don't see the spiritual powers at work, and this experience may be invaluable in building his character and life knowledge.
There is only one real red flag to be concerned about: violence. If his girlfriend is prone to violence, she poses a risk to your son and any future children.
When to Say Something
The time to say your peace is before they reach the altar. Offer your insights without judgment or emotion—no threats, tears, or tirades—or you son will close his ears. Talk to him one-on-one. Explain your concerns but follow them with, “I will respect your choice and love you no matter what.”
As his mother, you have the right to forewarn him of upcoming problems that may stem from differences in faith and other areas of incompatibility, for example. But as long as he is aware of what could be around the corner in a bad relationship, you must back off, let him make his mistakes, and let him find his joy. Not allowing him the freedom to learn from his decisions is a mistake, too. In fact, if you have been too controlling throughout his upbringing, expect that this will be a time for him to establish his own independence. If you've encouraged his free will and chosen your battles wisely, he'll more likely be receptive to your sincere input as an adult.