For the past two years, I've been dating a 28-year-old man who has two kids; I'm 22. Things have been difficult from the start because my parents, who love me dearly, do not approve of my boyfriend. They want me to graduate from college, get a job, and have an amazing future. To them, that also means finding a different man to be with; they are not OK with the fact that he never went to college and has two children.
Things eventually got so bad that I moved out of their house and went to live with my boyfriend. Now I have a lot of feelings of guilt in regards to my parents. Before I moved out they were paying for college, my car, and things like books and gas. I'm an excellent student, but I decided to take this semester off because I am so exhausted. My parents are adamant that I go back to school, but they said they are not willing to help me financially unless I break up with my boyfriend and move back home.
Needless to say, my parents are something my boyfriend and I argue about. One time during a bad argument, he called my dad and started swearing at him on the phone. Since then my dad has told me that he'll never accept my boyfriend. My mom is also worried, and she's lost a lot of weight. I'm so torn; I don't know what to do. Please help!
— Disapproved of Deena
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Dear Disapproved of Deena,
It certainly sounds like there's more than a healthy amount of stress surrounding your relationship, and I'm sorry to hear that it's having such a terrible effect on your family. I'm glad that you realize that your parents are looking out for your well-being, and honestly, I think it's normal for parents to worry if their child has temporarily abandoned college to live with a man already burdened with responsibilities of fatherhood. That said, their reactions sound very extreme, and I have to wonder if there's more to this story than meets the eye.
If you want your parents to take your relationship seriously, I think you need to take their concerns seriously. Sit down with them and discuss in no uncertain terms what their biggest issues are. If they're worried about the effect your boyfriend has had on your schooling, then prove to them that you will enroll next semester with the intention of going full-time until graduation, and consider moving into your own apartment.
If their issues specifically revolve around your boyfriend's character, then I advise to you contemplate their concerns closely. It's possible they're being irrational, and if that's the case, you can feel confident that being with your boyfriend is the right decision. But it's also very likely that their fears are legitimate, and you have to consider that, too. Unfortunately, in a situation like this one, it will be impossible to please both parties without compromising something in your own life. Now is the time to start making decisions that are best for your future.