Puddle Coach Column ~ Q&A / Parenting: Feeling Judged

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Puddle Coach Column, by Patrice Swenson                                                                                                                     Have a question for the Puddle Coach? Submit here


Dear Puddle Coach,                                                                                                                                                                                        Patrice Swenson, Puddle CoachDescription: http://www.rainbowinthepuddle.com/sites/default/files/images/Life%20Coach%20Pic%20for%20Business%20Card_2.jpg

I am dating a guy who's not what my family would consider the "right" guy for me. Translation, he isn't the boy next door! To my parents, even having one tattoo is strike number one, add a nose ring or god forbid an idea that doesn't fit with their values and he's totally "unfit" to be dating their daughter. I'm 23 years old; I have always been responsible, gotten good grades, worked hard and got a good job. My parents pictured me with someone that fit the image of who THEY want me to be with; funny thing is, if they valued me at all and my own measure of what and who is right for me, they'd back off and be happy for me, but they constantly judge me. They make it clear in subtle ways that he's not good enough and my association to him makes me suddenly this girl who doesn't know what's good for her. I feel so judged, one unsupported. It's gotten to the point that I don't even want to spend time with them anymore. I wish they would open up and see the beauty I see and get how happy he makes me. He's a terrific man, he's amazing; I just wish this tension was gone, but I am not going to be someone I'm not or be with someone I don't want, to please them! Help, please!

Feeling judged ~

Dear Feeling judged,

As I was reading your note, I couldn't help but think of a line my daughter said to me when we worked through situations that required both of us to realize the other person is struggling to accept the changes in our relationship from parent-child to adult-adult. She said to me, “If I'm drowning, let me drown! “ She also said she didn't want me to be "mom", but just be her friend!  As difficult as it was to hear that, she had a point! Although, the other day she was surprised when she asked her "mom" to make some lunch but only her "friend" was home! :-)

I'm wondering if your parents are really struggling with who your boyfriend is, or just letting go of the parent-child relationship. You are clear on what is important to you and you’re being true to yourself; that’s powerful.  What would you like the outcome to be with you and your parents? I would suggest inviting your parents to a conversation in a neutral place with ground rules to discuss the situation. What are your highest values and how are you honoring those values? Think about what your strengths are as a person and use them in the situation. Are you dealing with this alone or as a couple? I'm wondering if there might be an activity you could do together to help your parents get to know your boyfriend as a person. Judgment is usually based on fear and ignorance; when we get to know someone better, our opinions often change as do our stereotypes!


Acknowledgement is the fastest way to improve any disconnection, disagreement or conflict. What could you acknowledge about your parents struggle or perspective? What do you need acknowledged by your parents? Perspective can turn hurt into compassion. What part of your perspective could change to help you feel better? Everyone is adjusting to something and letting go of something, so time will also be a big help! 

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Puddle Coach~