It can be tough to find a balance between protecting your daughter from unsuitable boyfriends and giving her the freedom to make relationship decisions. Even if you have the best intentions, your daughter may interpret your concern as interference or control. But if you consider your actions carefully and make your daughter's needs a priority, you may be able to make your feelings about her cheating boyfriend clear, while strengthening your bond and helping your daughter learn the skills to make healthy relationship choices.
1. Take a Step Back
If you know your daughter's boyfriend is a cheater, she will know too. In fact, she probably knows a lot more about his behavior than you do. She has all the facts she needs about this guy, and it is up to her to decide what to do about it. You may find it unbelievable that she doesn't ditch him immediately, but the situation may be more complicated than you know. Perhaps your daughter hasn't been the perfect girlfriend. Make supporting her your priority, give her space to process what's going on, and resist forcing your opinions onto her.
2. Talk It Out
Encourage her to express her emotions by asking open questions, advises Elizabeth Berkley, author and founder of Ask Elizabeth, an online self-help program for teenage girls, in the article "How Do I Disapprove of My Daughter's Friend or Boyfriend Without Being an Invasive Mom?" for The Huffington Post. Open questions require more than a "yes" or "no" answer and provide scope for further discussion and intimacy. For example, you may say something like, "Can you tell me what attracts you to your boyfriend?" or "How does your boyfriend make you feel?"
3. Tread Carefully
Explaining your concerns about your daughter's relationship should not make her feel attacked. Communicate with love at all times, advises Berkley, even if your daughter tries to defend her boyfriend or claims not to be able to leave him. If you have experienced cheating in a relationship yourself, share this with her. Tell her how you felt and what you learned from the experience. Help your daughter build her self-esteem to give her the strength she needs to leave her cheating boyfriend.
4. Respect Her Decision
Your daughter may believe her boyfriend has changed and won't cheat again. No matter how this makes you feel, accept her decision. It's far better if she is honest with you about her relationship, rather than lying and sneaking around because she feels she must hide it from you. Make your feelings about her boyfriend clear, advises psychologist Lisa Damour in the article "I Don't Like My Teenage Daughter's Boyfriend," on Dr. Lisa Damour.com. Say something like, "I feel concerned that this guy has betrayed and hurt you. I'm sure you would find it strange if I supported your relationship with him, because I care about you. But I cannot stop you from seeing him." Ask your daughter to be honest with you about the relationship and come to you for support if necessary.
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