Q: My 21-year-old son recently started dating this new girl. She seems nice enough, but she also exhibits controlling behavior. He caters to her every whim and always lets her have the last word. I keep telling him that she isn’t the right girl for him, but he isn’t listening. Instead, he is pulling away and spending more time with her. My husband is no help, of course! What should I do?
A:Uh-oh! Have you ever heard the saying “You spot it, you got it”? It means that we most often identify flaws or specific behaviors in other people if we have that very same behavior ourselves. For example, someone who is vain about her appearance might be quicker to notice someone else’s vanity than someone who doesn’t have that behavior. In your case, you might be quicker to identify this girl’s controlling behavior because you have some of those characteristics yourself.
In reading your question I think it is easy to see that you certainly love your son, but that you might also be accustomed to being the only woman in his life. You also mention that your husband is “no help,” which makes me think that you are probably like most modern women who do it all. I would be willing to bet that you are the one who keeps the house running smoothly and that you often put your own needs last to serve your family first.
However, this type of behavior is often linked to control issues. You appear to be someone who likes everything “just so” and likes being the one in control, whether it means loading the dishwasher a certain way or choosing the girls your son dates. Here’s the kicker: The very reason that your son is attracted to a girl who is a bit controlling is because he is seeking a woman like you!
Although he probably doesn’t realize it, your son is instinctively seeking out a home like the one he had growing up — a home that was run by an independent force-of-nature who knows how to get her own way! This is great for him, but not so great for you, as you are a Queen Bee who is realizing that her position of power is being threatened. As hard as this is, remember that it is actually a natural transition. Kids grow up and make their own homes, and parents have to make the transition from being number-one in their lives to being a loving support system from the sidelines. After all, you wouldn’t like it if your mother-in-law tried to control your husband or spoke badly of you.
Of course, that’s all far in the future. Your son is still young and likely doesn’t have marriage on the brain and won’t anytime soon. The best thing you can do is cease your opposition against his girl and instead be more welcoming and loving toward her. Invite her to dinner and make an effort to be friendly. If you dig your heels in and refuse to be kind to her, your son will have to make a difficult choice — and, face it, since she is the one holding the " sex card," I am afraid that Mom will lose this one!
— Dr. Laura Berman
NextNow in last page »