I don’t want my daughter, 21, to start dating yet

Monday, November 11th, 2019 06:41 |

Hi Achokis.

I am a married mother of three— two girls and a boy. Our first-born daughter who is just 21 is a second year college student. Recently, she told me she has a boyfriend and they have been going out for a while now. I told her to break-off that relationship and focus on her studies.

We have raised our children in a strict way and don’t want them to engage in such things before they complete college. My daughter has insisted on going on with that relationship. I’m stressed, I can’t even tell her father. What should I do to make sure she stops this relationship? 

Our Take

It is normal for you to feel this way, especially as a mother. When your daughter mentioned that she was seeing someone, the next thing that must have gone through your mind was that she has slept or is about to sleep with this guy. Many African parents are also not used to this — children talking about their boyfriends or girlfriends.

However, legally, when a child attains the age of 18 years, they are considered as adults, even though they are still likely to be under the care of parents. So, there’s nothing you can do to stop this relationship. In fact, the more you try to stop it the more your daughter will get into it and may even elope with the boyfriend. Where we go wrong as parents, is that we swing from one side to the other. Either we leave our children on their own with the assumption that they know what they are doing only for them to end up getting hurt, if not pregnant. Or we get too paranoid, warning our children against getting into relationships because of what we have seen with others or our own past experience. What we need is a balance. 

You are lucky that your daughter let you in on her relationship. You must go back to her and apologise for your reaction and thank her for sharing this with you. After you have appreciated her for telling you about her relationship, talk to her. Find out more about this relationship, who is this person, what kind of guy is he? What does she like about him? Let her know what your fears are. Share with her your own dating experience, mistakes you made— hopefully, she will learn from them. 

By openly sharing your life with her and listening to her, she will note your interest in her. This way, you will build up enough relational capital that she won’t be afraid to let you in on what’s happening. She will also be open to your guidance, thus enabling you become her coach giving instructions from the sidelines and being there for her in case she’s hurt. 

The writers are marriage and relationship coaches

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