20 year old daughter engaged. Moms..help!

[deleted account] ( 10 moms have responded )

My 20 year old daughter came home with her boyfriend of one year wearing an engagement ring. She just began her third year of college and he (19 by the way) is just beginning a military career. They became engaged only 10 days before he left for 23 months of military training. We were forced to quickly accept this because he was leaving and we didn't want to cause any drama for him. He unfortunately didn't have enough respect to speak to us prior to proposing and gave us very little time to process this new development. We had to throw together a quick family gathering so that the rest of our family could meet him before he left.

I am feeling so embarrassed and frustrated by all of this. My husband and I sacrifice every month to pay our daughter's enormous monthly college fees, including tuition, her car, phone, and insurance. We have done all of this so that she COULD focus on her education. I feel that the sacrifice being disrespected. To me, coming home engaged says "I'm an adult". Adults pay their own bills.I thought we would finish the college phase and engagement would come later.

I'm feeling disappointed and extremely sad and would love some advice.



♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 10/03/2013




LOL...I love to hear parents say "he didn't respect us enough to ask our permission to marry our (adult) daughter"

Is this still medieval times? Are women still possessions? My parents had the same 'objections' to my marriage, and yet I WAS THE ONE who told my husband that he didn't have to ask anyone's permission, because I was an adult, and no one's property.

We still laugh about it 23 years later...He told my dad the last time it was brought up that he wanted to know where my dowry was, if he was supposed to ask permission, I was supposed to ahve a dowry, after all...LOL

Your daughter IS ADULT. She doesn't need your permission to do anything. You are still paying her bills by your choice, and if that's what's bothering you, then it's time to revisit that situation, and come up with an arrangement that you both can agree upon. My 19 year old son pays his own bills, has his own place, and if he were to become engaged tomorrow, all I'd do (besides be happy for him) is make sure they both understood the financial commitment of being married, and that they both understood that it's a commitment both parties are responsible for.

It's time to let your daughter live her own life. If you can support her, emotionally, then do so. If you don't feel that you can, then be honest with her.

You probably won't like my answer, but that's the way I see it.

Steph - posted on 10/03/2013




I think that asking for a daughters hand in marriage has more to do with respect than with possession. My husband asked my father, and it gave them both an opportunity to discuss marriage. It gave my dad the chance to openly ask him questions.

I think that getting engaged just because he is leaving seems possessive. If I got married while still in college, I would have been promptly cut off financially.

I hope it is a long engagement. Hopefully while he is away, you can take the opportunity to discuss marriage and what it means to be an adult in a loving and supportive way. Encourage them to save their money. If you push too hard against this, it'll only make her want it more.

Jodi - posted on 10/03/2013




I must admit, I had the same reaction as Shawnn. She isn't a possession. Unless she went to his parents and asked their permission, then really, it's not a snub, it is the way things are done now. No-one needs your permission to make this decision. They came to you after the fact and told you. Personally, I wouldn't have a problem with that.

Let's be honest, they are engaged, not married. She isn't giving up her college. She is preparing for her new life after college. It doesn't sound like they are planning to get married just yet, just that they decided to make a commitment to one another before he left for training.

Cecilia - posted on 10/03/2013




Try to be happy for her and understand she is an adult. You raised her and i'm sure you taught her to make correct choices in her life. Even if she does mess up sometimes you're the one who should be there for her and not be the one to say "I told you so"

Here's what gets to me just a little: " I feel that the sacrifice being disrespected."
"I want the girl to just be in college and go do the stupid stuff college kids do"

Isn't going out and partying and doing all that stupid stuff also a disrespect to your sacrifice? I see that as more disrespectful. You're there to study and get good grades not party every night and show up to class hung-over, if at all.

I'm not even sure where the feeling of embarrassed comes from. You're embarrassed that your daughter thinks she's in love and found the right man for her? Or does that stem from him not asking? Either way let go of all the nasty emotions and try to be happy that your daughter is happy.

[deleted account]

Thanks Shawnn. I don't like your answer, but I do very much appreciate the perspective, lol.

I gave no implication that my daughter is a possession- and that her boyfriend should ask us for her to "be his". The very reason she is in college is so that she will not have to rely on anyone but herself to make a living. A young man speaking to his potential future in-laws is common courtesy where I come from. I have a son as well and I would expect him to conduct himself in exactly such a gentlemanly manner. Respect is the name of that game.

I also disagree with the assertion that my daughter is an adult. Turning 18 makes one a legal adult, but I believe that becoming an actual adult comes with the successful handling of responsibility and thoughtful decision making. I know 40 year-olds who are still not “adults”.

One thing I can say for certain is that if my daughter had chosen to enter the work force (get her own place, pay rent, buy groceries and struggle from time to time like most of us do) rather than enter college, I would feel differently. College student being 100% supported by mommy and daddy = child. Living independently and paying your own bills = adult.

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Angela - posted on 10/04/2013




An engagement is a private agreement between 2 people, it's not a legal contract. She doesn't need your permission or approval.

And because it's a private agreement, a ring, a newspaper announcement and a party are not even necessary. She and her fiancé have been open and honest enough to share this agreement with you. They could have kept it to themselves, kept you out of the loop - and they would be no less "engaged"!!

Your mention of heavy college fees, her car and all the rest of it don't really have any relevance. If you've gave her the choice right now to become "unengaged" or forfeit everything you're paying for that helps her future - trust me - she'd probably pick her man and the future they've planned.

If she is over 18, why did her fiancé need to speak to you? To be honest, if my own husband had spoken to my parents back when we got engaged, I would've been very angry! Such a move suggests that the newly-engaged (or about-to-become-engaged) lady doesn't have a mind of her own!

“One thing I can say for certain is that if my daughter had chosen to enter the work force (get her own place, pay rent, buy groceries and struggle from time to time like most of us do) rather than enter college, I would feel differently. College student being 100% supported by mommy and daddy = child. Living independently and paying your own bills = adult”

This is the bit I don’t like to be honest. You know how kids, as soon as they hit adolescence like to be regarded as adults? That little quote above from Maci Dani is the best de-motivator I’ve ever seen for discouraging young people from further/higher education. Like the fastest way to be seen as an adult is to get full-time employment, your own place and be self-sufficient. And it’s a whole lot swifter doing just that if you don’t bother with college and just find a job that’s probably “dead-end” (albeit an honest living) and get straight into it instead of going into further education beyond compulsory school.

And let’s be honest, how would you have reacted if your daughter had gone straight into full-time employment after leaving school rather than going to college?

So, what do you do at the future point when they get married? Congratulate them and go with the flow?

Or if the engagement doesn't last? Say "I told you so" whilst secretly rejoicing that you were right all along?

[deleted account]

I do like the guy and I respect him for serving our country. We scrambled to put something together for him so that he wouldn't leave feeling hated by our family. I am smart enough to know that I have to at least APPEAR supportive. It's a lose/lose if I don't.

You and Kelly are right. Seems like more of a "promise ring" situation to me. My daughter just happens to be on a dorm floor with 40 male athletes and I'm sure the boyfriend was not a fan of that!

I want the girl to just be in college and go do the stupid stuff college kids do (without my ever knowing it of course) and figure out who the heck she is first. You may also be interested to know that I actually asked them why they don't just get married now. Deer in headlights anyone? They both stuttered.."But...but ...we're not ready now!" Lol..okay.

Appreciate the feedback.

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 10/03/2013




See, here's where I twist it up a little. I do encourage both of my sons to ask a parent's permission for a first date, or an important date, such as homecoming. My 16 yo asked his 'girlfriend' (using that loosely because they fall in and out of relationships a lot at that age) to homecoming next weekend.

If I had a daughter, I'd like to speak with the young man who's going to be picking her up for the evening, so I encouraged him to get mom or dad's contact info, and he called her dad to ask his permission to pick the young lady up (well, I'd be picking up and driving, since he's not allowed to go for his license for another year) and take her to the dance. I figure this gives the parent of the 16 yo the opportunity to meet the kid.

But, I'd still not expect my 20 yo to have her potential fiance ask my permission for marriage, because I would expect my kid to be mature enough to know if this was the right thing for her.

I do think Kelly's hit on something with them wanting to have that commitment in place prior to his deployment. That's important to a lot of service men (and women, for that matter), to have that security of knowing that you've made that commitment, and they're waiting for you.

You'll do fine, I'm sure, Maci. Do you like the kid?

[deleted account]

Around here a few people still consider it proper etiquette to ask for the parents' blessing before proposing to the bride to be, but I think it's mostly a southern thing. My parents were slightly offended that my husband didn't ask, but in his defense, he knew nothing of that custom, and due to a bit of an age gap (I was 21, he was 34) they were not exactly welcoming to him.

That said, he is going to be gone for 23 months--that is nearly two years, and she will probably be finished with college by the time he gets back. Also, with him off on deployment, and her out of the dating field, she will have lots of time to focus on her studies and finish up school.

I think that they probably got engaged before the deployment because they wanted some kind of meaningful commitment before the long stent away from each other.

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