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butt out or speak up?

  • My son (he's 18) just broke up with his girlfriend. I am not upset by this: I think it's appropriate. Adam is not ready for a significant relationship, and the young woman was. She was giving WAAAYYY more than she was receiving, in time, attention, encouragement, support...

    I don't blame Adam for this. He's not tremendously mature for his age, but he's not immature, either. He's just an 18-year-old boy: he likes this young woman, yes, but his guy friends, his job, his online hacking about, his music are important to him - possibly more important than she is. Breaking up was the right thing to do because the relationship was unbalanced, and she was losing out.

    It's probably easier on him, and it's better for her.

    So, here's my dilemma. I want to have a woman-to-woman talk with her. I want to warn her off the (typically female) tendency to give too much. I want to tell her she deserves a certain minimum from a relationship, and should not blame herself when that minimum isn't achieved, or decide her needs were excessive when they aren't met. (Which I know happened in her relationship with my son.)

    She and I have a friendly relationship. I don't see us continuing to have one when she's not in and out of the house any more, but I would like to have this one, woman-to-woman talk with her.

    Sooo.... what do you think? Good idea or bad? (I am fully aware of the politics of not bad-mouthing my very own son, and the possibility of appearing to do so, even when that is not my intent. But really, I feel this girl is more at risk than my son.)

    Input welcome!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by MaryP on 7th September 2007
  • If you and her have had open conversations like this in the past then ABSOLUTELY, I would go ahead and have this conversation with her.

    If you haven't, then no. This is not the time to get personal with her.

    That said, she may be emotional about the break-up right now so be sensitive to that if you do talk to her.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by KathyHowe on 7th September 2007
  • We've had a few sharing-type conversations... but the only one in which I ventured to suggest that "she deserved better" (he'd been thoughtless and cavalier about her time and availability), she leaped to his defense and didn't really hear me.

    So I dunno. Will she be more likely to 'hear' me now, or will she feel the need to continue to defend him. If I wait a couple of weeks?

    I know she's sad. My daughter tells me that her Facebook doesn't say "I love Adam" any more, it says "Picking up the pieces".

    Poor kid. What I forgot to mention in my first comment was that she emailed me to let me know they'd broken up, and said some nice things about the family and wished my son well. I'm not quite sure what the purpose of the email was - therapy? sorting it out? is she angry and hiding it? does she want to talk?
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by MaryP on 7th September 2007
  • oh. the email from her tells me she may like to have a conversation with you. hopefully she doesn't think that the conversation will lead to a reunion with your son. she could be thinking of how to win him back via his mother. but i would say absolutely respond to her email with an invitation to lunch!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by KathyHowe on 7th September 2007
  • Thanks for your thoughts. I did it. I replied to her email with a short note thanking her for her kind thoughts, saying that we'd miss her cheerful presence around the house, and ended by asking if she'd like to get together in the next week or two. Now it's up to her.

    I'm not sure whether to hope she says yes or no!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by MaryP on 7th September 2007
  • Let us know what happens in response to your note, please.

    I haven't met my son's girlfriend yet; they've been seeing each other for almost a year, but didn't live in the same city until this summer, and that city is 3000 miles across the country. They're supposed to be here for Christmas, and I am very curious to see how they treat each other. If it looks anything like what you describe about your son and his now-ex-girlfriend, I'd probably be inclined to want to say something to her about it too.

    I think that the woman-to-woman thing is important.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Florinda Pendley Vasquez on 7th September 2007
  • I wish you good luck. It sounds like you had a good relationship, and you might get together casually and have "that talk" some day. My daughter just broke up with her boyfriend in December; he's a delightful character, and I actually miss him! I don't know if they'll get back together, but I do know he treated her very, very well. He was and still is a sweetheart of a young man.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Daisy on 16th March 2008
  • Hi MaryP,

    My son is only 3 so I have a long way away to have to deal with what you are experiencing(I hope) so I am not exactly sure what I would do BUT...I would most likely keep out of it myself and let her mother have that woman to woman talk with her. Maybe even reach out to her mom and let her know what happened if she doesn't already know.

    She may not understand where you are coming from and may see it that since you are his mother and telling her she deserves better she could take it as "wow, maybe his mom doesn't like me all that much" because she is telling me I deserve better.

    Does your son know how you feel about the situation? Does he know you want to talk to her?
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by on 16th March 2008
  • Daisy - I did get together with her, and it went pretty well. That was a few months back, and we haven't been in contact since -- which was how I wanted it to go. I think she heard what I had to say in the right spirit, and here's hoping it will empower her in her next relationship.

    Momof2 - Well, as I just told Daisy, I did have that chat -- about four months ago, in fact. Guess I should've posted a follow-up! I did consider talking to her mother, but I discarded it because her mother, though a cheerful, vibrant-go-getter woman, has little time for introspection. Her response is "Well, that's life. Stuff happens! Suck it up!! Move on!!" Which is good advice as far as it goes -- wallowing is good for no one. But a little introspection can give you insight and how to avoid the same situation another time. So I thought I'd be a good source for some of that.

    My son knows how I feel, yes. It makes perfect sense to him -- in fact, the imbalance in the relationship was one of the reasons he called it off. He felt both smothered and also guilty for not reciprocating.

    No, I didn't tell him I'd spoken to her. I decided to let her decide whether to tell him or not; she decided she wouldn't. If she'd told him, I could have been perfectly honest about what we discussed, since it was very much what he and I had already discussed.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by MaryP on 17th March 2008
  • MaryP, I don't know how I missed this post before, but I think that was a very kind thing that you did for that young lady. My father just did a similar thing with my sister's on again off again boyfriend. The young man is still hanging around with our family even though my sister seems to be flitting in and out of his life, and doesn't seem to have any intention of committing. My father said very frankly that if he is wanting a committed relationship that he should not settle for anything less. Even if that means that he and my sister are not together. The whole family likes him very much, but we want the best for him too!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by mamajama on 18th March 2008

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