DR. WALLACE: I'm 17 and am dating a very nice young man who is 19. We have been very close for the past six months. I can honestly say we care for each other very much, and I am happy to tell you that he treats me with respect and love at all times.
My problem worries me a lot, and I actually feel a bit guilty that I'm so concerned about this. What is it? Well, my beau has told me that while his mother is a sweetheart and a very reliable person, his father is a true deadbeat who has been in and out of jail for the past decade! In fact, right now, his father is being held in jail in a neighboring state for an upcoming trial that will likely start this summer (if a jury can be seated soon amid this COVID-19 situation).
A big part of my problem is that I have not mentioned one word of this to my parents. My mother once briefly met his mother when his mom drove me home and dropped me off a few months ago. The two moms hit it off, and my mother even commented at our dinner table that evening how nice she found my boyfriend's mother to be.
I was then on pins and needles, literally holding my breath to see if one of my parents would ask any questions about my boyfriend's father. Fortunately for me, neither of my parents did! I feel I dodged a tough conversation there, but I am fearful that it will come up at some point if my boyfriend and I stay together — and I'm planning to stick with him! The good news is that both of my parents really like and respect my boyfriend. They like how he treats me, and they feel he has good character, which he does.
My boyfriend has told me that he's uncomfortable discussing his father's situation with my parents, but he has also told me that he does not want to tell any lies either. He suggests we say nothing for now and that maybe over time this situation will somehow solve itself.
Do I need to tell my parents about his deadbeat dad, or should I just wait this news out and hope for the best in the long run? — Worried Young Lady, via email
WORRIED YOUNG LADY: What is missing here is that you apparently don't know what crime your boyfriend's father has been accused of. If he caused physical harm to another person, you have a right to know this — and at some point, your parents do, too. I suggest a more open conversation with your boyfriend, and during this talk, reassure him that you do not look negatively upon him because of the failings of his father. It might turn out that his father is accused of a property crime like theft or burglary, which would be less egregious than harm to an adult or a child.
In any case, I suggest you prepare your boyfriend to explain the situation to your parents when the time comes. When will this be? It will be when your parents come around to asking about his father — which could be sooner than you think. You've stated that your parents respect your boyfriend, so he should be the one to explain things, especially since it involves his family and he is one with knowledge of the situation. I trust your parents will respect hearing the truth from him and will not hold it against him, no matter how bad the crime his father has been accused of is.
Have your boyfriend practice this future talk with your parents by having this exact talk with you first.
As with almost all situations, the truth is the best path forward.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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