My daughter's boyfriend's parents offended me. Am I being too sensitive?

AnotherAnnieTX - posted on 01/21/2014 ( 11 moms have responded )

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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?

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AnotherAnnieTX - posted on 01/23/2014

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No! not at all! I appreciate your point of view. This is why I asked - because I feared that I was being too sensitive. I guess in my mind, if they thought he was spending too much time here, then they would tell him no occasionally. It's not like he lives around the corner - it's a 30 minute drive each way. I never dreamed we'd see so much of him when they first met, and I don't know his parents real well. I've offered to meet up with his mom for coffee because I wanted to chat with her, but she declined. I've invited her into my home to visit for a few minutes when she came to pick him up, but she always begs off - has things to do, no time to spare. I figured she just doesn't want to get too friendly because it might make things awkward when our kids break up. But that's so different from me - if people I didn't know invited my kid over, I would welcome the opportunity to get to know them a little better before I leave my child wirh them, and it wouldn't matter to me if it was just a friend or a boyfriend. I mean, they have met us, but they don't really know us.

Yes, his first real girlfriend, and her first real boyfriend too. And yes, things are moving very quickly in my opinion. But his parents don't seem to be discouraging him in any way. He told his dad that he is in love with my daughter and hopes they will get married some day, and all his father said was that it was okay with him because he (the dad) likes my daughter so much. That was about 2 weeks after they started dating, and that freaked me out a bit. His parents have said they don't think he should be here every day, but they seem okay with every other day, or every few days. I could only imagine that if they are giving permission and driving him over here, that they are not doing so resentfully. Even when the kids have gone on a date, his parents drove him all the way here to pick her up, took them back to their neighborhood so the kids could grab dinner and see a movie, and then drove her all the way home again. And they seemed happy to do it. They don't seem to mind the time spent here so much as the eating here. Maybe it is like some others said - that it diminishes their family meal time together at home. That response made the most sense to me. I mean, I was initially under the impression that this boy's family rarely, if ever, sits down to eat together, but perhaps that isn't accurate. I guess there is no sense worrying about it. Not one person thought I was in the right to have my feelings hurt, so I'm moving on. I'm all past it now, no drama! Whatever will be, will be. That's good advice. :)

Leela - posted on 01/23/2014

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If I were you, I wouldn't stress about it. They are young and have only been dating for a month. It's highly unlikely that they're going to be together 5 years from now. If the family had a major problem with you then he wouldn't be at your home at all. I think they have the right to say whether he can stay for dinner or not, he's only 15 and the relationship is moving pretty fast. Your daughter is older and girls do tend to mature faster than boys. Maybe his parents want him to spend some time with his family or maybe they don't want him to get into a routine so early in the relationship. I feel somewhat sorry for these kids as the adults are creating unnecessary drama. Do these people really know you and vice versa? It's only been a month. Stop taking it personal and just let it be.

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 01/21/2014

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Good point, Jodi, one that I didn't think of.

My "kids" include the entire neighborhood, plus a few transplants some days, so dinner time at my house can be chaotic. But, regardless of who or how many, we still have a sit down with conversation style dinner.

I think, too, that I probably don't mind the extra fixing, even if it isn't eaten that night. I'd much rather know a kid is fed and healthy (either at my table or their own) than worry about how many leftovers I am going to have.

Now, Anotherannie, please don't take this as I'm getting on you, because I'm all in favor of letting people know what's going on, (hopefully) in time to alleviate any problems I may cause. But, I do think a lighthearted approach is better than anything else, and please don't leave the kiddo to be the go between. If you feel it needs further addressing, please talk to his folks yourself.

Jodi - posted on 01/21/2014

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In addition to what Shawnn said, maybe dinner time is THEIR family time too? Maybe they are bothered that their son hasn't been coming home for family time and they feel disconnected. I know I have a fairly strict rule in place about dinner time - if you aren't going to be home for dinner, you need to give me some notice. I also see our dinner time as family time, so missing it on a regular basis when you live at home doesn't go down well - our family time is important too.

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Megan - posted on 01/23/2014

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Why are you talking to the child about this? You should have called the Mother and spoke with her. Seems like both sets of parents are putting this kid in a needlessly embarrassing situation.
Just my 2cents...

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 01/22/2014

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Angela has other great points as well. A lot of families feel that it needs to be reciprocal. ;-)

Angela - posted on 01/22/2014

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I think I can offer another perspective on this issue ....

Remembering my own parents, I almost certain they would not have wanted me having regular meals around the home of the same friend/boyfriend. My mother would have felt obliged to reciprocate (even if the other family didn't demand or expect it - both of my parents would have felt it was only right to reciprocate and would not have liked to have had to entertain a friend of mine every single week because I was eating over this friend's house every week - you say your daughter and her boyfriend get together - usually at your place - about 1 - 3 times weekly).

In fact my own parents were quite wary of accepting any kind of "favour" from people - feeling that they might be compromising themselves. It may sound strange or even silly but there are many people who DO feel exactly like this. I was welcome to bring a friend home for a meal but not too often! And if I were to go to the same friend's home for meals very regularly they would not have liked it and put a stop to it.

The fact that you welcome this young man and are happy to have him at your house eating with you and sharing time with your family doesn't mean to say that other people would feel the same way about having someone outside the immediate family as a regular placement at family meal times.

Also, as they are such a young couple, maybe the family don't want him to get too involved - and possibly hurt - and then there is the question of his schoolwork and studies. His studies won't necessarily suffer simply because he has a girlfriend he likes spending time with, but they don't know that! I daresay your daughter is his very first girlfriend.

Hope I haven't come over as too negative!

AnotherAnnieTX - posted on 01/21/2014

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Yes, everyone had very valid points. Just as an aside, the plans for him to come to our home are made well in advance, and he asked to come hang out and stay for dinner. It was no problem for six weeks, and only these past two weeks was it an issue, but I have seen his mom on several occasions and she hasn't mentioned any concerns to me. His visits are coordinated at the convenience of him and his parents because he is involved in a lot of activities and our schedule is flexible. They know what time we eat and if his visit will be during our dinner time. In any case, I spoke to the young man about it because he was here. It's not like I was angry with him or fussed at him. I just wanted to be clear about this becuse he tells me he plans on dating my daughter for a really long time, so this will obviously come up again and again. I agree with everyone else...now that I am aware that his parents have some sort if issue or reservation about it, if I have anything further to say, I will certainly say it to them. I think it just took me aback that he was told to just not eat our food without an actual reason. This situation probably could have been handled better all around I think. I only know that this boy makes my daughter very happy, so I want to feel welcome in our home - always. Thank you all for some perspectives I never even thought of. I will keep that in mind.

Jodi - posted on 01/21/2014

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Oh, I do extras all the time......but I do like to have some notice because I don't always have enough around when I'm working. I also never have a problem with my kids being elsewhere for dinner, but given they are all under 18, I do tend to expect SOME family time to catch up on school, and everything else, plus I expect homework to be done. So I can see why a parent may be wanting their 15 year old home, in particular on school nights (I actually have a "be home by 6pm" rule on school nights for all of these reasons - I will make exceptions, especially as my son has training a couple of nights a week, but on those afternoons, he comes straight from school so that he can go out later and still manage to fit in everything else).

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 01/21/2014

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Perhaps it is a combo deal of not wanting their child to "impose" too often, along with the tidbit that most families I know tend to plan their menu, shop accordingly, and fix enough for everyone. Perhaps they were not informed that dinner hour at your home was 6 pm, and thus planned to feed their son when they picked him up, "forcing" them to waste food.

I say "forcing" with quotation marks, because I'm the leftover queen, so anything not consumed on the evening in question is saved for the next day.

The most you can do at this point is make sure the kid understands that you are not going to be upset with him, no matter what his parents' decision is. It is not fair of you to take that out on him.

If you would like to approach his mother (since you attend the same church), perhaps you could make it a lighthearted encounter to let her know that you really don't mind feeding whomever is in your home at the time. I was the same way. If your body was at my address at mealtime, you got a plate. BUT, you also got right of refusal. That way, if you didn't feel comfortable, or you knew your parents were planning on you for dinner, you didn't eat. I didn't let it bother me one way or the other, because all of my meals are leftover friendly.

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