How to Handle a Son's Choice of Girlfriends

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If your son has a girlfriend you don’t like, get in line. Girlfriends or boyfriends are often a pet peeve for parents. Even if you have very good reasons for disliking your son’s girlfriend, though, the best advice out there is to bite your tongue for now.

Turn a Blind Eye

Yes, you may know what’s best for your son and instantly spot the reasons why he and this woman won’t be compatible, but he has to figure that out for himself, says counselor and parental adviser Denise Rowden. If your son is still a teenager, forbidding the relationship or throwing a tantrum about the girlfriend could send your son straight into Juliet’s arms. Even as an adult, he might get more serious about her or date her longer just to prove you wrong, instead of making choices based on his feelings for her.


If you don’t approve of your son’s girlfriend, consider the possibility that you might exhibit the very qualities you detest in her. It’s hard for many people to admit, but often the things we dislike about other people are the very flaws we have ourselves, writes Laura Berman, Ph.D. Your son may unconsciously seek to recreate the same home situation in which he grew up, and that might mean that his choice of mate is similar to you. Do some deep thinking about your own flaws in relation to your problems with the girlfriend. You might both be rebellious, both be dependent on your significant others or both be controlling. Your son’s girlfriend isn’t going to be perfect, so cultivate some empathy for her.

Give Her a Chance

Perhaps the reason you doubt your son’s choices is because this woman made a poor first impression or because you’re just not quite ready to let your son grow up. But it’s not fair to take such minor issues out on this woman for several months or even years. Make a concerted effort to get to know her and find the positive qualities that your son assures you she has. You might be pleasantly surprised, once you let go of your initial judgments.

Invite Conversations

Invite your son to talk about the relationship instead of giving unsolicited advice. Your son will likely shut down if you start naming his girlfriend’s flaws, so instead, when you see that he’s having problems with her, ask if he wants to talk about it. He might not, in which case you’ll have to remain silent. If he does choose to talk, you may choose to give him some words of wisdom -- without criticizing his girlfriend.