As parents when our children are little we teach them autonomy. The point of which is to protect them from harm. Yet as they grow older and are wiser and more capable of making their own choices many of us have a very hard time letting go. For less important reasons.
We spend so much time as parents making rules and enforcing them we forget by a certain age our children learned much from us. We take for granted that our children are capable of making good choices. Choices we may or may not be proud of.
When my children were young, I let them dress themselves and wear their hair as they wanted. I only objected if I had to. Like if it was raining, and they wanted to wear shorts and sandals. By letting children do little things for themselves I learned to trust my children could do these things for themselves.
Early on I wanted my children to learn to make good choices and believe in themselves. The best way to learn sometimes is not by someone telling you but by trial and error. Am I saying let your 12-year-old teach themselves to drive? Heck no. What I am saying at a certain point as parents we need to start let our children develop into the person they will be.
Most babies don't stand up and walk. They take baby steps and they fall down. They get up and try again. Children are resilient like that.
Yet many of us object when our kids make choices we dislike. Some choices by all means should be subject to parental objection. As they grow we should stay out of some things. As they get older, they have earned a little privacy and respect.
We like to say our children show a lack of respect but then again are we respecting them? Think about this example. Dislike their choice in music? If the music is profanity, free let them listen. Hate their haircut? Get over it. Hair will grow back and odds are 6 months from now they may get a new hairstyle you hate more.
Do you understand what I am saying here. At, a certain point we are trying to control them so much we forget they need space and guidance not an iron fist.
From day one children fight for independence. You know the cause of many temper tantrums, fits, and meltdowns ages 1-6? They are mad because they cannot tie their shoe, feed themselves, choose their food and so on.
When they reach adolescence, we sometimes hold on tighter than we should. That is why it is so important that as they get older, we let them choose for themselves what they can within reason.
This means if you dislike a friend of theirs hush up. Unless the child is an actual bad influence, then talk to the other parents. Then talk to your kids. Never forbid them from being friends with people unless you have a damn good reason.
Those little judgement calls we make when they are younger can come back to bite us if we try it when they get bigger. Also consider how you would feel if your child was objecting to your spouse or significant other. That would hurt right?
The point here is when your child is ready to date and you allow dating do not a bad mouth, object to, or treat their date, girlfriend, boyfriend badly.
Trust your child and if they choose someone you must respect they found a quality in that person perhaps you cannot see yet. Unless their significant other is a drug dealer, is abusive, or something along those lines be nice.
As a parent our kids will be in friendships and romantic relationships with people we may not like. We all had one friend or date our parents hated. Remember that?
Or worse what if your parents HATE your spouse? You get where I am going? My kids are honest with me. I have a 21+ year track records of kids with no arrests. My kids have never had a ticket. They do not drink or smoke.
I let them go out. You know what I won't even bother them unless I think they have were too long which is rare. When I do I send a text like what time you coming home? No prying.
If my kids want to tell me something they will. When they bring home friends or girlfriends, I am nice. You know why that person is a part of my child's life and if I want to continue having a healthy respectful relationship with my kids; I treat their friend's and dates well even if I dislike them. I never even let them know if I dislike someone.
As a parent it is not my place to chose the people they love and care about. So unless I feel the situation is dangerous or have a safety concern I butt out of things. When your child brings someone home, we cannot foresee how long the relationship will last. Or if that person will at some point become a permeant part of their life.
My children need to choose those people themselves. I have no say in who my child can love. I can voice a concern but unless I have a damn good reason. I will not. The girl your son has been hanging out with who you don't know but don't like her when you meet her may just end up being his life partner or wife.
How wonderful do you think your child's relationship will then? How much pain will the animosity you feel cause him? Or cause her. What if they have children? Do you want them to put innocent children in the middle?
No. This is why when your children date you treat their dates with respect unless there is a valid reason not to. Like they are dangerous or a threat. It cannot be because you don't like them or this person is not who you would choose for them.
One of my kids has been seeing someone we met them once. I figure it's because when my child feels the need to let us know it's serious they will. I don't poke or prod because that will just push them away. I will not snoop neither. I respect my kids and treat them as I would want some to treat me myself. That includes treating the people they choose well.
So do yourself and your kids a favor when they date be nice. Your child who you raised saw something special in that person perhaps it is something you will not see in the proper context. What matters is that if you dislike them neither party ever learns that. You do not have to like someone to get along with them or treat them with decency and respect.
I see so many families torn apart by this. You are not the ones in the relationship they are. Why risk losing your child because you cannot hold your tongue and play nice.