AnotherAnnieTX - posted on 01/21/2014 ( 11 moms have responded )
My 16 year old daughter has her first real boyfriend. He's a whole year younger (turned 15 just a couple weeks before she turned 16). They were flirty friends getting to know each other for about 6 weeks after they met and have "officially" been dating for about a month. They do not go to the same school, so they don't see each other every day. They have met up to walk around the mall a few times, gone to a few movies together, and went out to dinner once with his parents. However, the majority of their time spent together has been in my home, with my family of 5, or on outings with our family.
This is my preference, as I do not work outside the home and have the time and energy to provide adequate supervision. So long as his family doesn't mind dropping him off and picking him up, I'm perfectly okay with him being here from. 1-3 times a week. My daughter and her boyfriend both know this and are happy to have a comfortable place to hang out together. We are fairly strict, and his parents are okay with that. The problem comes down to the issue of meals...because in my home, if you are here at meal time, you will expected to eat with us.
Meal time is family time, and it's something we take seriously in our home. While we do occasionally dine on the couch while watching a TV show or movie together, most days there is a prepared meal, set table, grace, and conversation over dinner. Whenever my three children have friends over (which is frequently - our house tends to be the hang out), their friends join us and are treated as members of our family. It started out this way with the boyfriend too, and that felt fairly comfortable.
So the problem is that lately, his parents are okay with him hanging out here, but they don't want him to eat here. ??? This has been going on the past 2 weeks. The first time, he was going to be here until 7pm, and his dad showed up 45 minutes early (just as we were about to sit down to dinner) to pick him up with the excuse that he wanted to take the kid to dinner himself. Okay, I thought, maybe that could have been planned better, but whatever. Two other times since then, something similar happened...ambushed by an early pick up. I could see this was bothering the kid because he really didn't want to leave early, but he is very respectful of his parents and doesn't argue.
They must have talked about it though, because most recently, he has come over and told me not to fix anything for him because his mom told him to just wait and eat when he gets home - don't eat anything at our house. But he was going to just sit and have a glass of tea while we eat. WTF?
My thought were: Really? Who does that? I mean, I know he has to do what his mom says, but what is her issue with this? So, at first I thought maybe he just didn't like the food at our house and this was an excuse. I could not believe anyone would tell their child this, but he assured me he does enjoy my cooking. So then I asked if there was a religious or dietary reason he couldn't dine with us any more (although our families attend the same church - that's where our kids met), but that wasn't it either. So then I asked if his parents have a problem with him eating dinner out at the homes of other friends, but he said, "No M'am, only yours." Then I asked directly - why? He said they did not give him a reason, and he didn't understand it, but he knew it offended me and he wanted to obey his parents and not upset me all at the same time, so he didn't know what to do.
So, I finally told him this: first, we will NOT eat dinner with him there just staring at us or sitting in another room by himself (because I think that's rude, and it was rather presumptuous of his mother to even suggest it ). Therefore, if he cannot get permission to eat with us, then he must be picked up by 6pm, which is the time we usually eat, or decline the invitation all together and just stay home with his family. He said he understood how I felt about it, and that he knew that meal time is family time for us, and that he really did want to be a part of it because he wants us to think of him as an extension of our family; he didn't really know why his parents were pushing this issue, but he would follow the new rule from now on.
Then he went and texted his mom about it, and I'm not altogether sure what transpired, but his dad got in on the conversation and also felt strongly that he should not eat at our house. In the end, once he told them that this whole situation was offensive to me, they were like, "Fine, eat there. Just do whatever you want. We are tired of this argument." Or something like that. I didn't see the messages, but my daughter did, and she told me his parents seemed to feel as strongly about their position as I did on mine, but they did give in at the end.
Honestly, I do not see myself as an overly sensitive person, but I did take offense in this situation. I don't know if these people are afraid their child might be expected to eat something he doesn't like, or if they think we are too poor to be able to feed the boy, or if they imagine that we somehow resent him for frequently being at our house during meal time, or what? Nothing is further from the truth!
My husband and I both like this young man, and we are always happy to have him join us for dinner. And even though the issue seems to have been settled for now, I have not received any real explanation that makes sense, and my feelings are still a bit hurt about the whole thing. Am I being too sensitive?