It’s the holidays, and my son called me yesterday to chat a bit to catch up on life. It’s that time of year when relationships are made, cracks in relationships are exposed, and break ups are decided upon. It’s the time of year when sons across the nation call their moms to get sound, trusted advice on life, human relations and relationships.
He lives a few states away, so we don’t see each other often, and I don’t celebrate holidays, so he’s free to gallivant across the world to figure out his life. He’s his paternal grandmother’s oldest grandson and the first child of his late father (who died from Gulf War Syndrome at the age of 34), so he likes to spend his holidays with his grandmother as he reminds her of her oldest son lost to a senseless war. He lost his father at the age of 9. It was a difficult transition.
I conceded a long time ago there some things in life bigger than me and sharing my son with his paternal family to fill a void in his grandmother’s heart was the least I could do. It didn’t cost me anything except a little time, and I think I made the most of my time with my son while he was in my home full-time over the years. My son grew up to become a pretty cool, level-headed polite, thoughtful and respectful young man with the help of our community, family, friends, school/educators, and sports.
Grooming Him to be a Renaissance Man
My son is 26 years old and knows how to do everything to be self-sufficient so that he can survive singleness until the right woman comes along to settle down with should he desire to.
I taught him how to cook everything I knew how to make, including how to bake cookies, cakes, candy from scratch. I taught him to sew (hand stitch and sewing machine). He knows how to budget shop, including thrifting and discount grocery shopping for those hard-times recent college grads may run into from time to time. I taught him to be independent. No woman wants a mama’s boy (or least I didn’t care for those types).
My dad, who is an ASE certified mechanic, taught my son how to maintain his car. His deceased father passed on the gift of tinkering and wiring things (He was an electrician in the Navy), and we both taught him how to cut his own hair. I taught him how to budget his finances, save money, maintain his credit rating, and how to get a job. I tried to give him all the life skills I never received.
I also taught him how to be a gentleman and a good person, especially to women. Having had my fill of dating shitty men, I wanted to spare my son the hassles of wasting time and brain cells.
He seems to be well-rounded, rational young man, and I wanted him that way because I never wanted him to be some woman’s burden. I also didn’t want him to feel like he had to settle for the first smokin woman who offered him something he couldn’t do for himself. I want him to live his life with no regrets so when he decides to settle down he won’t feel as though he’s obligated to or after settling down, he missed out on something.
Well, he’s doing that, but he’s been doing it along with his girlfriend of 6-years. As of late, it’s not going so well.
The Beginning and the Now
My son and his girlfriend met in college 6 years ago or so and have been an item since. She’s the only girlfriend I’ve ever known (I told my sons I only needed to know future wives, not every chick they met). They seemed to have been keeping their young relationship in the road pretty good until my son took a job in a neighboring state to begin building his professional career. There were no jobs where we lived, and when you’re fresh out of college saddled with debt, you gotta go where the jobs are. Needless to say he left home to start adulting as an independent young man, just like I raised him to.
The distance apparently became an issue for his girlfriend. He works 6-days a week for a major bank in a semi-entry level position. These days, if you want to eat, you gotta go where the work is. My son’s girlfriend took a job in the college town they both graduated from. She relocated a few hours away from her small town too where she has no family. It’s been rough for her.
Adulting is hard.
I started hearing cracks in their long-term relationship last year. As a free-range kind of mom, I tend to not ask questions and get involved in my children’s business. I’m always neutral but ready to offer wisdom when necessary. Over the past year, my son began complaining about his girlfriend’s neediness, and how she reacts when she’s upset. It was a complaint I’d never heard before. I was a bit alarmed to say the least.
I decided to dig a little deeper to try and understand what his new complaints were all about.
My son spent an hour on the phone quite eloquently laying out how his girlfriend was an only child, had selected some terribly unreliable friends that always backed out of hanging out and traveling on her at the last minute or were under financial constraints. Because his girlfriend couldn’t seem to get the other pieces of her life together finding balance, his girlfriend seemed to want my son to be her only source of happiness. It’s a disaster waiting to happen and good ole misery in the making.
Now I realize some women will read this and think her man should want to be with her every waking moment if they are a couple, but that’s not true.
The only person responsible for a woman’s happiness is that woman. Any time an adult is relying on another adult to be their source for everything, you’re demanding too much of that person. It’s unreasonable and unattainable.
My son seemed to believe his girlfriend’s growing up in a sheltered environment prevented her from developing key social skills needed to make and maintain healthy friendships and romantic relationships. Her insecurity and need to be in his midst with no regard for his schedule, his need for personal space, his desire to spend time with friends or desire to engage interests she dislikes (like fishing) had become a big problem.
The Verbal Abuse and Domestic Violence
He said his girlfriend was very jealous, and anytime he did things with his college friends or his family and she wasn’t invited she would become angry. This led to him doing things solo or with friends and not telling her, which caused him to not be truthful with her and he disliked that.
When he was truthful with her, she threw tantrums, became violent, and verbally abusive, which is a no-no for the mother of the former domestic violence/sexual assault director and advocate. He’d tell the truth to prevent from getting spankings, and I can count on one hand how many times he’s ever gotten in trouble where I needed to chastise him. I also taught him in middle school about domestic violence, bullying, and stalking and how that shit lands guys in jail.
I also made my son aware of how some women take advantage of guys not hitting them and will become violent because they know it’s a no-win for men in the situation without proof.
So, abuse of any kind was a deal-breaker for him. He said they broke up for a few months but she wanted to try and work things out. He decided to try it, but now that he’s seen her, he can’t seem to un-see her.
My son sounded very unhappy.
Before yesterday, he hadn’t explained the situation to me in such detail. My old advice was that it wasn’t easy to walk away and find a new woman in today’s crazy dating world, especially one who could appreciate all his qualities, skills and giftings. I thought he should stay in the relationship, because I believed she was a really nice young lady, just a little immature. We all have problems, but violence and jealousy are huge problems, personal problems.
Good Old Momma’s Advice
After listening to how miserable my son, and having been in his shoes, I gave him some sound advice.
I advised him to take some time to weigh the pros and cons of the relationship, the history the two had together, and ask himself if he can be happy if he let her go? Next, I asked him to talk to her about his need for independence, her behavior, and his need for her to have a life that did not revolve around him.
I told him if he became her everything and decided to settle for the concerning behavior now, all it would lead to was regret, cheating and a likely bad break up. I told him don’t try to be anyone’s everything…not even his mama’s.
I told him if he didn’t feel like he was ready to settle down, then don’t, and if he felt he had some more living to do, then live. We work too hard to not do some of the things we want to do. Life is too short and too stressful to live with regrets. Finally, I advised him not to lead her on. If he knew it was time to move on, then do it quickly and kindly. If neediness and clinginess are deal breakers, then allow her to find the man who will be what she need him to be for her. Don’t drag it out.
They’ve been together a long time and I’m sure in her mind the next logical step would be co-cohabiting or marrying.
I told him long-distance relationships are hard on a couple, and if she needs more than he’s willing to give considering distance, work schedules, and finances, either work it out or let her go. She deserves better and so did he.
She’s a really nice young lady, but her need to be at the center of a man’s attention all the time and a lack of understanding that personal space and privacy is needed by most sane people in relationships to make them work are big problems.
They are hers though, not my son’s.
A Reminder for Parents with Sheltered Daughters
Your little girl princess will be someone’s girlfriend or wife one day. Are you raising her to be a pleasure to be around or are you raising a spoiled brat? To be independent and to have a healthy respect for independence? To be respectful of personal boundaries and personal space?
Have you spoken to her about domestic violence, from the standpoint as a victim and as a perpetrator (yes/women girls fight men too)? Are you raising a book smart baby with no common sense, no social skills or graces, and no self-awareness? Is she socially well-rounded? Are you tolerating tantrums, disrespectful behavior, and violence? Are you grooming an independent-thinking and an independent living woman, or a woman who will rely on someone else for all her wants, needs, social and emotional support? Are you sheltering your child crippling them with co-dependency tendencies or teaching them real life skills for real life?
One day, someone is going to call their parents to discuss your daughter. What kinds of conversations will some guy call home to have about your little girl? Raise your daughter with her future in mind.
Not everyone will love your child the way you do. She may be your little princess, but she may be some guy’s nightmare.
Marley K., 2018