Question: I am 17 and here is my question: I have been dating a boy my same age for more than two months. I will call him "Dan." We get along great, but the problem is his mother. She refuses to take down a rather large picture of Dan's former girlfriend -- I will call her "Karen" -- which is on their refrigerator. I told my boyfriend it bothered me, so he asked his mom to take it down, but she refused. She talks about Karen ALL the time, how "nice" she is, how much she likes her, etc., and has even made plans to take her out to lunch at the end of the month! I am trying to be nice about it, but I find myself getting increasingly angry at my boyfriend for not doing anything about it and at his mom for making me feel like I don't meet her standards. What should I do?
Tay: Well, my first question is: was your boyfriend's ex-girlfriend a friend of the family before they started dating? If so, "Dan's" mother may not so ready to break up her relationship with "Karen." It is understandable that it bothers you, though. What anger you do have should not be directed at Dan, he cannot change his mother's actions. Have you tried taking it up with his mom yet? Try joking to Dan's mom about Karen and expressing your anger in a manner that seems light-hearted and calm. Maybe she'll get the hint. You could always try to see if you can get an even bigger picture of yourself and put it on the fridge. If that doesn't work, just remember, she's his ex-girlfriend for a reason, with or without his mother's approval.
Mom: Sounds like it's time for a thicker skin. Your anger at your boyfriend is misplaced. You noted that he did, at least, TRY to encourage his mom to take the former girlfriend's picture off of the fridge, so at least give the guy a little bit of credit. It sounds like he's on your side. Continuing to bring up your displeasure with his mother or (what your perceive) as his inability to convince her to act the way YOU want, can often land YOU in the "former girlfriend" category. As far as the mom's continual talking about her son's former flame, that's just plain tacky and rather rude. Unfortunately, age does not always equate to good manners. Be the bigger person in this situation by accepting his mom for who she is -- warts and all -- and, who knows? Maybe you'll be invited to lunch someday.
My Two Cents is written by Taylor Watson, a junior at Lancaster High School, and her mother, Deb Skok Watson, a school counselor/social worker at the Hopevale School District. To get your questions answered, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.