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Is she a honey or a hussy?

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

When you don't like your son's girlfriend

It's finally happened. Your teenage son is in love! You can't wait to meet this girl and when you do... you don't like her. She’s nothing like what you thought she'd be, and maybe she's even rude. What's a mom to do?

Before you go banning your sweet innocent baby boy from dating this corrupting hussy, take a big deep breath and try to see a bigger picture. You are still the most powerful woman in his life, but you need to use that influence carefully.

First relationships

First loves are momentous. Think back to your own first love and the power of that relationship in your world. Though it may feel embarrassing now, it was real and meaningful in the moment. It can be hard enough for a parent to watch a teen go through the ups and downs of first romantic relationships when everyone likes each other -- but it can be even harder when that's not the case.

It's unlikely that your teen's first love will be his only love -- although some teen relationships do last, most don't. Regardless, you need to tread carefully. Showing too much of your own distaste for this girl may close communication with your son and nudge the two of them closer. Unless there are specific issues endangering your son's health and safety and necessitate your deep involvement, step back.

Is it her? Or you?

Figure out why you don't like this girl. Is it her? Is it her manners, her clothes or the way she talks? Is it her family, her religion? Have you made the effort to get to know her at all? Has she done something specific? Could it be you are an intimidating presence to her and she's just scared of you? And no, that's not the goal.

Or it is you? Do your feelings stem from protectiveness of your son or from annoyance that this relationship has altered family and relationship dynamics? Are you jealous your son is spending more time with her than with you? Does she look like the girl who stole your first boyfriend way back in high school?

His own way

There's someone else in this picture who needs consideration: your son. As close as your are to him, his dating life is part of his appropriate and necessary development into an adult -- and moving away from you emotionally. That's a hard reality, but it's true!

His girlfriend is his choice, not yours and you "liking" her is almost irrelevant. Almost.

What you can do is keep lines of communication open. You can be available and open to talking about relationships and the paths they make take. You are still an influence in your son's life, but more subtly.

You don't necessarily have to like your son's girlfriend, but you do need to love and respect him, and learn new ways to be a part of his changing life. That girl might not be so awful: after all, she had great taste in choosing your amazing son.

More on teens and dating

The teens and dating debate: What's the right age?
How to deal: Teen romance
A mom’s guide to teen dating

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