Question:

Our daughter dated this guy for a couple of years and we had major concerns about him. She was in high school at the time and he was a couple of years order. This was a major source of conflict between her and us during her last two years of high school. It was no secret to him that we disapproved and didn’t agree that she should be with him. They are now engaged and he will be a part of our family. We still disapprove, but the main issue now is that our daughter doesn’t want us involved in her wedding plans at all. She tells us that since we weren’t supportive, that she figured we wouldn’t want to help. We feel she’s punishing us. We’re not only worried about the wedding, but how to live with the fact that he’s now a part of our family. 

Answer:

I certainly can understand your struggle with your daughter in high school, but now that she’s out on her own and starting her own family, the last thing she needs is your opinion. She already knows how you feel about her fianc, so driving that point home will only increase the acrimony and distance with her. 

Marriage is already hard enough without the constant disapproval of in-laws. The best thing you can do is accept the fact that your days of managing your daughter are over and that it’s time to learn how to build a relationship with her and her soon-to-be husband.

Just because you didn’t approve of him for your then-high school daughter, it doesn’t mean that you can’t learn to accept him now that he’s going to be a part of your family. I’m not suggesting this will be an easy transition.

You may have feelings of resentment and frustration that they didn’t respect your guidance when she was in your home as a teenager. You may not want to give them the satisfaction of knowing that you could ever be okay with their union. 

Please consider where your stubborn stance toward this relationship will lead you. Do you want to be right or do you want to have a relationship with them and their future children? 

You might even consider sitting down with them and letting them know of the transition you’re working through. Let them know that you recognize how difficult their relationship has been for you as the parent, but that you now recognize how they need support instead of parenting. Show them they have a support system to help them build a strong future together. 

If they are terrible for each other and have a rotten marriage, you can still love and support your daughter as she learns these difficult lessons. Our job as parents isn’t about protecting our children from all of their bad decisions. It’s letting them know they have love and support to take risks and learn from her mistakes. 

Your daughter didn’t follow your rules and counsel as a teenager and now you worry about her future. You can’t continue to hold her hostage to the immature and disrespectful actions she took as a teenager. If there are real consequences coming her way as a result of her rebellion, you don’t need to do anything more than let her know she matters to you and you recognize she is living her life the way she wants to. You did your part in teaching her and all you can do is hope the lessons she learned in your home will support her in this next phase of her life.

You may be the only support she has now or in the future.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught the following: 

“When a battered, weary swimmer tries valiantly to get back to shore, after having fought strong winds and rough waves which he should never have challenged in the first place, those of us who might have had better judgment, or perhaps just better luck, ought not to row out to his side, beat him with our oars, and shove his head back underwater. That’s not what boats were made for. But some of us do that to each other.”

Continue to position yourself so you can be there for her no matter the outcome.  

Geoff will answer a new family and relationship question every Friday. You can email your question to him at geoff@lovingmarriage.com

About the Author

Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in St. George, UT. He is the owner of Alliant Counseling and Education (www.alliantcounseling.com) and the founding director of LifeStar of St. George, an outpatient treatment program for couples and individuals impacted by pornography and sexual addiction (www.lifestarstgeorge.com). He is the co-author of “Love You, Hate the Porn: Healing a Relationship Damaged by Virtual Infidelity”, available at Deseret Book, and the audio series “Strengthening Recovery Through Strengthening Marriage”, available at www.marriage-recovery.com. He also writes a weekly relationship column for the St. George News (www.stgnews.com). He holds a bachelors degree from BYU in communications studies and a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from Auburn University.


  He served a full-time mission to the Dominican Republic and currently serves on the high council of the St. George, Utah young single adult second stake. He is married to Jody Young Steurer and they are the parents of four children.

You can connect with him at:
Twitter: @geoffsteurer

*Jeffrey R Holland “A robe a ring and a fatted calf”