Q. My daughter is 18 and starting college this month.
She has been dating a boy from her high school for eight months. They are going to different colleges.
He is Muslim and has not told his parents about the relationship (because my daughter is not Muslim). She believes they would accept her if she converted to Islam.
Her boyfriend is very charming and is able to manipulate people because of his charm. They are in love and enjoy being with each other. My daughter does not want the relationship to end. The boy is torn because of the deception and he knows he cannot marry my daughter unless she converts. He talks about ending the relationship but has not made any effort.
He expects my daughter not to date other boys in college, and she seems to agree. She would never convert to Islam (in her heart) but I am afraid she will do whatever it takes to make this relationship work.
I am torn about what I should do. Do I just let it play out and see what happens? I have explained my concerns about her marrying a Muslim without actually embracing the religion. I think she would be very unhappy in the long run. She is independent enough that she would resent the limitations put on women by this religion.
I have told her that I do not think he has the right to limit her dating in college if he has not even told his parents about his relationship.
I would appreciate any advice you could give me.
A. Both parties in this drama are very young. Their youth and immaturity are both an advantage and a disadvantage in the dynamic. It is not balanced or healthy for your daughter to be in a “secret” relationship, and I agree with you that the boy’s choice to keep this a secret from his parents lacks integrity.
Your focus should be on urging your daughter to enter her college life wholeheartedly and to resist anybody’s efforts to control her (however, if you push too hard, she’ll realize that you are trying to control her).
You should discourage any talk of marriage — not because of the religious differences, but because they are too young. Your daughter should know that you expect her to obtain her degree before marrying anyone.
Young couples who are separating frequently extract promises to be faithful to each other. You should encourage your daughter to make friends and engage enthusiastically in college life, regardless of her long-distance romantic status.
Stay calm, and try to stay neutral, open, and close to both of these young people.
Q. My boyfriend and his ex-wife have a difficult relationship. Their son is about to celebrate his bar mitzvah, and my boyfriend wants me to be present.
I really want to be there, but I think my presence at the reception might create problems. (I will go to the ceremony.)
How can I make a good decision on whether to go to the reception? Should I ask my boyfriend’s son?
A. The focus on this day should be on the boy celebrating this important milestone. I like your choice to be part of the congregation supporting him as he performs a ritual he has worked hard to prepare for.
Do not ask the boy to help you make an adult decision. If you feel your presence at the reception would create tension, then by all means skip it.
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