Tuesday, January 30, 2007

An e-mail from a mother about her daughter's boyfriend

Yesterday morning I received an e-mail from a mother who's worried about her daughter:

Dear GB,

I don't know if you will help me out with this. I hope that you will. I am very innocent to all this. My daughter has a boyfriend and they have a 2 month old child. She works full time and he plays with a job here and there. She pays for the apartment and he's not even on the lease. But this is not so much my concern. My concern is that lately I have been coming over to pick up my granddaughter, and her boyfriend is hanging out with two friends that are gay. He spends all his free time with them, and even brings them on dates with her.

This weekend he and my daughter went to a movie and her boyfriend brought these two friends along. (Incidentally, she owns the car. He doesn't even have a driver's license).

She and I and the baby went out today and when we arrived he was there with these two gay friends and I got very upset. I told her that I thought her boyfriend must either be gay or bi-sexual. She said that they are just his friends and her boyfriend is absolutely not gay. We had a big argument over this.

Please advise. Do straight men generally hang out with gay men on a daily basis? I have nothing against gays as I have many friends and a few relatives who are and I love them. I just don't want this jerk using my daughter financially and also lying about his sexuality.

I would appreciate your opinion on this.

Thanks, Anne

Having thought about this a bit now, I reckon the issue of the boyfriend's sexuality isn't the main question. Surely the question is simply "Why is the boyfriend spending so much time with his friends when he only became a father two months ago"? None of the possible answers to this question are likely to be good for Anne's daughter.

All fathers that I know spend a lot of time helping their partner looking after their newly born babies, all the more so if it's their first child as seems likely in this case. But if he spends all his free time with his friends, it sounds like Anne's daughter has both the financial burden of supporting the family, as well as most of the daily burden of caring for a newly born child.

I can only really imagine this happening if he doesn't really care about his girlfriend or his baby. However just because he has gay friends, and even if he sees a lot of them, that's no indication that he himself is gay in my opinion. In that situation, if a guy who had recently become a father thought that he might be gay or bisexual, I think the most likely behaviour would be to investigate his sexuality secretly rather than in public. On the other hand guys who are very comfortable with their heterosexuality often have no issue with other guys being gay, so given that Anne's daughter's boyfriend recently became a father it seems most likely to me that he falls into this category.

From Anne's description, the boyfriend sounds like a complete waste of space though. On the basis that he drifts from job to job he doesn't seem to have much interest in his own future. And by spending time with his friends rather than his partner and their new baby, it sounds like he doesn't have much interest in his family's future either. It also sounds like he's even been too lazy to learn to drive.

One can only wonder what Anne's daughter sees in this guy? Perhaps I've been watching too many soaps on TV, but it could be a case where the daughter purposefully chose a boyfriend that her parents would disapprove of, just to prove that she was in charge of her own life. Having put herself in this situation, she could well be in denial about the reality of it all, and is still hoping that everything will work out in the end somehow. Given the attitude of the boyfriend though, that seems unlikely to me at the moment. On the other hand, even if Anne's daughter does realise that she's made a mistake having a child with this guy, she probably won't want to admit the mistake to her parents.

Whether Anne's daughter realises the problem yet or not, I think she's likely to need the support of her parents to help with her child at some point. Hopefully they'll be there for her when she does need them. My guess is that they will be. Anne's daughter may not realise it yet, but it's clear to me that Anne really cares about her daughter. Otherwise, she wouldn't have bothered to send me an e-mail in the first place.

Do any readers have any other thoughts?


Snoskred said...

Well, the boyfriend being gay would be a much easier problem to solve, right? I mean, as opposed to him being generally a deadbeat type of person who seems to be happy sponging off the mother of his child and getting her to drive him around because he can't be bothered getting a licence, etc?

He is using her daughter financially. That's pretty bad. Why does lying about his sexuality tip things over the edge?

The bottom line is, Anne, your daughter has had a baby with this guy. That ties them together for the next 18 years, whether they stay together as a couple or not. It sounds to me like you are not happy with his actions as far as providing for them both - and believe me, I could not more sympathetic because my sister is currently in a very similar situation, only minus the gay friends. So I can tell you, *without* the 2 gay friends hanging around, this is quite a serious situation.

You cannot kick him out of her life. You cannot stop her from making the mistakes she has made (and believe me, I would put getting pregnant by this guy right up there at the top) and you cannot go back in time and change things for the better. You unfortunately have to watch this train wreck. And it's going to hurt, because you love your daughter and you love your grandkid.

I'd suggest you keep out of the whole sexuality issue. That is so beside the point it is not funny. And you can try to point out some of the facts of the situation to your daughter - ie - he does not support her, he should get his licence, he should be on the lease for the apartment, he should be working while you look after the kid, I can't be looking after the kid all the time, he needs to look after the kid, all of these things. But the trouble is, she's going to resent YOU for saying all that, and she's not going to get mad at him herself for these things.

They say with any couple, one person will be angry, while the other person is not. You're angry about this situation and that is giving your daughter the get out of jail free card - she doesn't have to be angry about his actions while you are doing it for her.

There's such a thing as a circle of control. There are things you have control over, and there are things you do not. It is pointless to focus on the things you can't control, like his sexual orientation, his lack of work ethic, his not looking after your daughter and grand child to your satisfaction, his not having a licence. You need to focus on what you can control - keeping your mouth shut when you want more than anything to say all the things about him that you want to say, so that your daughter will be able to come to those conclusions all on her own and make a choice about whether to stay with him or not - and how you can best help your daughter in this situation she has found herself in.

Looking after your grandchild is great, and something useful you can do, but by doing that are you giving him a chance to get out of taking some of his responsibilities? Do you want him to take those responsibilities really? Or would you rather do it yourself and know the kid is fine because you're in charge.

My number one piece of advice - do not enable your daughter and by extension this guy by helping her out with money. That is what my parents do for my sister, and it really isn't helping.

I'm sorry you find yourself in this situation, and I know it's no fun, because I'm part of a family where it is going on too. I spoke up and right now my sister isn't talking to me. Or I'm not talking to her, or something like that.

But if you ever need to talk to someone who understands what you're going through, you can email me, I'm happy to listen. ;) I just wish I had a magic wand to wave. ;(

Single Guy said...

Gay or Bi or straight..the boyfriend sounds like a looser and she may be better off!