Perhaps one of the toughest things about being a parent is learning to let go as your child grows up and makes his own life. This certainly applies to the partners your child chooses to date. If your son is seeing a girl that you don't like or that doesn't treat him well, your gut instinct is probably to speak up and say something. Before approaching your son, however, it's wise to think through what you'll say and how you'll say it. That way, he's more open to hearing and considering your point of view.
Have a Conversation
Sit down with your son and outline your concerns, but only have this conversation one time, recommends Marie Hartwell-Walker, a psychotherapist and parent educator for PsychCentral.com. Repeating yourself over and over again is far more likely to irritate your son than it is to convince him to break up with a girl you don't like. Instead, respectfully state what it is that bothers you about his girlfriend and why you feel that it's a mistake that they continue dating. Sometimes a conversation like this will motivate your son to really think about his choice and determine if he truly wants to continue the relationship.
Take Control of Yourself
Ultimately, you cannot force your son to stop seeing a girl if he's determined that they're going to be together. What you can do is take control of yourself so that you're sending the message that you don't agree with his choice. Parents have a strong influence on their children, and you have the power to help your son make a better choice, according to Debbie Pincus, a licensed mental health counselor for EmpoweringParents.com. For example, if your son's girlfriend is disrespectful to you, you can tell your son that she's not welcome in your home. This sends the message that you don't agree with her behavior, but it also lets your son know that you won't put up with it. Over time, taking charge of how your respond might cause your son to see the light and make a better choice.
Spend Time With Your Son
It can be tempting to retreat away from your son if you're having a hard time finding common ground about who he's dating. But spending quality time with him can actually help him see that he might be making the wrong choice. In other words, don't define your relationship by the disagreements you're having, cautions Pincus. Your child isn't defined by what you perceive as being a poor choice, and in the end, your son is probably old enough that you can't forbid him from seeing a girl either. All you can do is gently guide him so he understands where you're coming from, and then leave it up to him to decide how to handle that information.
Do Not Force Him to Choose
The worst thing you could do is to give your son an ultimatum that he needs to either choose you or his girlfriend, cautions Hartwell-Walker. In addition to potentially losing a relationship with your son, this is highly unlikely to convince your child that he needs to dump his girlfriend. In fact, voicing your objections over and over again will likely send him straight to his girlfriend's arms, Hartwell-Walker notes.