DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: I met a guy, “Derek,” who I think might be “the one.” Only my father thinks he is just using me and that I would be better off hanging with my girlfriends and my family. Derek is so much nicer to me than my last boyfriend, who ended up cheating on me with his ex. Derek and I are talking about moving in together. I have been living with a couple of other girls in our own apartment for the last four years, but my dad says he’ll stop seeing me if I move in with Derek.
I honestly love my dad, but he can be so close-minded and stubborn. I really think he would disown me if I make the move with Derek. --- CAUGHT IN LOVE
DEAR CAUGHT: Don’t be too hard on your dad. Since he’s seen you burned, give him the benefit of the doubt that he really may feel your pain. Besides, beyond all those cherished memories of your first steps, favorite bedtime stories, and graduations, there may linger echoes of his own youth and the hurt he too felt when his heart was broken by someone who turned out not to be “the one.”
Cutting Dad some slack is the first step. Next, you’re going to need to work at persuading him that his little girl is an adult – ready, willing, and able to make mistakes and take the consequences.
This isn’t going to happen overnight. And your best bet is to keep Derek out of it when you and your dad are together. Have Dad over for dinner at your place, or treat him to a meal at his favorite restaurant. Talk about your job, your worries, your pet projects. Take tension out of the equation for a bit and let him get to know the young woman you see yourself becoming and your willingness to make sure he still has a place in your expanding world.
When the time is right and your relationship with your father is on more solid ground, you might find it less stressful and prickly to reintroduce the Derek situation. If Dad pushes back, then take the hint that he’s not ready yet to give his blessing.
Be cool with that for now and show your father you are enough of a grown-up to be patient with him – as he was with you back when you truly were his little girl, and he was the first man of your dreams.
In the end, you may need to get used to Dad’s never jumping for joy over you and Derek living together. It isn’t what he wants for you, but as an adult you have the right to make your own life. Just be sure to let your father know you hope he’ll choose to continue being a part of it.