My 15 year old son and his first girlfriend - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 28 Old 04-08-2009, 07:45 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I really, really hope that I don't offend anyone here with this post. I am in need of advice on how to handle something within myself.

My son is dating a girl who I am not thrilled with.

We are not rich. My husband and I both work full time in order to provide for our two children. Neither one of us graduated from college. We have raised our children in a typical middle-class fashion, exposing them to arts and culture within our budget and encouraging them with their hopes and dreams, which do eventually mean college and a career. (one of our sons is already in college and the 15 year old also hopes to attend.) Both of our sons are A students. We have tried not to immerse them in the typical middle-class culture of snobbery. That is why I am having such a hard time with this. I feel like a complete hypocrite.

My son's 14 year old girlfriend lives in a very tiny apartment in a not-so-good neighborhood with her mother, father, sister, sister's husband and their baby. The mother has a somewhat shady past and is very sick now. The family struggles to get by and the girlfriend has pretty much lived a life of turmoil. The family is trying, I think, to get their lives together. They take the girl to church (not my choice, as it is a fundy mega-church) and don't smoke in the apartment, as the girl has asthma.

From conversations I have had with the girlfriend, it sounds like her family and background are typical ghetto-ish (for lack of a better word). Her mother's family consists of biker gangs and others who have similar history.

This situation scares me and I am ashamed to admit that I have not been the most understanding person I can be.

My son says that the girlfriend tells him that she doesn't want to "end up" like her family members, but honestly, I don't see much hope for her.
My son is a "rescuer" and likes to help others. The family loves my son because they see a nice kid who has a good future and a good head on his shoulders. The g/f's last boyfriend was not so great and somewhat abusive.

My son is very upset with me because I am not altogether thrilled with this. He has struggled with self-esteem issues and has just recently gotten himself together. He has ADHD and almost failed 9th grade. This is the first year he has been successful in school and I am worried that he will lose sight of his values and goals being around her and her family long enough.

Ok. Sorry for rambling. I know that this comes across as judgmental. This is tearing me up inside and starting to strain the relationship with my son because he knows how I feel.
I just kind of wish he had chosen someone different.
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#2 of 28 Old 04-08-2009, 11:07 AM
 
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If the relationship is hurting him at school and at home, it's not a good relationship. If it *isn't*, then I would let it be.

I come from the wrong side of the tracks. My dh comes from the right side. His parents were less than thrilled when we started dating in high school. I exposed him to sex (he was willing, though!). He exposed me to activities like sitting down as a family to eat together, going for walks, studying, running cross country, and many other wholesome and healthy activities. I *loved* going over to his house to hang out with his family. I had never set down and played scrabble or had "movie night" in a family setting. My family never ate dinner together--we ate on TV trays in front of the television.

Our relationship was great for me, and apparently it was good enough for him that six years after our first date we married, and we're going on 15 years. I saw in him a stable, solid, wonderful family man. In me he saw a strong, passionate, ambitious woman who needed a little guidance. We compliment each other wonderfully. I push him to do things he would normally not do, and he makes me think twice. We are perfect together.
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#3 of 28 Old 04-08-2009, 11:11 AM
 
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I came from a very hard background, dbf came from a very healthy one... I worry a lot that I'm ruining his life... but he constantly assures me I'm not.

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#4 of 28 Old 04-08-2009, 11:38 AM
 
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nak

your instinct is telling you to feel bad about being judgmental and your instinct is right

who are you to say there is no hope for this girl?

i worry that this relationship will end up hurting her because of your unfounded negative feelings for her

it is normal for you to be concerned for your son and these negative feelings are ok, but until something actually happens (his grades fall, you notice he is not feeling well, etc) you should keep them to yourself.

JMO

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#5 of 28 Old 04-08-2009, 02:42 PM
 
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Just because you can't see hope for this girl, doesn't mean there is no hope for her. There are many, many people who managed to better their life.

I obviously don't know the whole situation but what I see in the OP is that yes, there are lots of people in one small apartment, yes her mothers sick and has a shady past, yes the apartment is not in the best part of town BUT the family is trying to help her too. For the most part, she has a good chance of being able to get out of that situation because she wants to, and her family wants her to, and there is a chance that your sons involvement in her life could have truely positive effect.

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#6 of 28 Old 04-08-2009, 02:48 PM
 
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Agreeing with others who have said that involvement with a boyfriend from a different type of family could really have a good effect on her.

I do understand that you are worried about your son spending a lot of time with the gf's family. I would be worried, too. The only thing you can do is to encourage your son and gf to spend more time at your house. That might be difficult, because of the reservations you have about this girl. But really, it's your only option. Make your home as warm and welcoming as you can, and the kids will spend time there.

Fifteen is awfully early to determine that there's "no hope" for a child. You could be an enormous influence on her, just by modeling another kind of home life.
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#7 of 28 Old 04-08-2009, 03:00 PM
 
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My sister was hurt very badly by a mother who felt our family was not good enough for her son. My sister and her boyfriend also stayed together much longer than they would have just so his mom wouldn't be right.

Relationships can be rather fleeting at this age, so I would watch, but not comment. It is likely that they will not stay together long, but if they do you have a chance to be a positive part of this girls life.
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#8 of 28 Old 04-08-2009, 03:16 PM
 
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My boyfriends in high school's parents felt the same way about me, and it is completely wrong. I am still angry about it.

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#9 of 28 Old 04-08-2009, 03:26 PM
 
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Originally Posted by zinemama View Post
Agreeing with others who have said that involvement with a boyfriend from a different type of family could really have a good effect on her.
And for that matter, having a girlfriend who is ambitious in spite of the "hopelessness" of her situation might be good for your son. If, as you hope, he does end up in college (and unless you send him to an Ivy League School) he will be around lots and lots and lots of people from different socio-economic backgrounds, not to mention people from "fundy mega churches," mosques, temples, etc. etc. You may as well encourage interaction now, while you're still able to give him guidance. Soon enough he'll be out there choosing his friends and girlfriends without any opportunity for you to have input.

I'm so glad that my parents got over my dh being from "the wrong side of the tracks" because my father sure does have a good Vice President of his pretty big company in dh.

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#10 of 28 Old 04-08-2009, 03:41 PM
 
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hi, I just wanted to chime in and give you a little hug - I know how hard it is to watch you child involved with people who are not influencing them in a way you feel is beneficial … I have been experiencing that with my dd and she and her bf had a baby so this family will be in my life forever .. sigh. I am a big believer in everything happens for a reason. So I try to put my best foot forward everyday and accept that there is something bigger to this whole story that I don’t necessarily see.
My suggestion is be there for him and support him. If you can accept that he has made the choice that he feels is best for him he will be more willing to let you be a part of it.

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#11 of 28 Old 04-08-2009, 03:51 PM
 
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I'm just wondering if you actually have an issue with her at all. Everything negative that you cited is about her family and her neighbourhood. Does she seem really irresponsible? Immature? Manipulative? If there isn't an actual problem with her, then you really need to drop it.

Food for thought: DS1 has a male friend, J, whose family doesn't impress me much. I have no idea about their income, past, etc. - but the dad strikes me as being incredibly immature and irresponsible and far more interested in being his son's "buddy" than his dad (I think parents can be their children's friends...but parenting has to come first, yk?). Anyway, I had some concerns about the friendship for a while, mostly because ds1 seemed to idolize J's dad so much. I let things go, and made an occasional very gentle comment - that was it. The friendship itself had some ups and downs (J was school mandated anger management for a while). However, over the last year or so, I've noticed that I like J a lot more than I used to. DS1's ex-gf's mom says the same thing. He's come down to earth, and isn't so busy trying to be cooler and tougher than everyone else. And, ds1, after exposure to J's family, eventually told me that he thought J's dad was a bit of an idiot (can't remember exactly how he phrased it) and that he needs to figure out that J needs a dad, not a drinking buddy.

I think ds1, and others in their circle of friends, have been very good for J. However, what I really appreciate about their friendship (because, admirable or not, it's ds1's welfare I'm most concerned about) is that ds1 has also benefited, imo. He's learned, from being around J's family, that having parents who are actually interested in being parents isn't a bad thing. He told me once that he's glad he has a mom who understands the job she has to do, because J's parents don't, and he thinks they've done J a lot of damage.

So...I think ds1 and J's friendship has been good for both of them. Maybe your son's relationship with this girl will be good for him, as well as her?

The big one, though, is that you're going to have to let go, anyway. If your reaction is hurting your relationship with your son, then there's damage being done, but not by her. He's chosen someone for his own reasons. He's not going to always pick people you want (just as ds1 isn't always going to pick friends that I'd pick), because he's finding relationships that work for him, as he should. Even if you remain concerned about her background, you need to find a way to back off, because, ime, this kind of reaction will only push them closer together, and make it harder for your son to realize she's not right for him (if she's not, which I obviously don't know at all).

Anyway - just random thoughts. I don't know what to say about how to handle this within yourself, but I think you really need to stop showing your ds your disapproval. Maybe concentrate on finding things you like about this girl, and spend more time with her?

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#12 of 28 Old 04-08-2009, 03:51 PM
 
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I see both sides, in a way I was "that girl", and I can see it isn't necessarily where she lives or her poverty that bother you, but perhaps the way she was raised and what she's been exposed to right?

I think you have to spend some time with her. Rub off on her. Make sure she can see and that she knows how your family operates, your values etc.

I know on the few occasions I was blessed not to be judged and was invited to someone's house who had a real family and a real home I was able to absorb that loving enviroment and it made a HUGE impact on me.

It got my mind working. It made me realize how I lived wasn't right, there was a better way.

It plants seeds.

The odds are this girl will be a passing thing with your son so don't damage her by allowing her to know you don't approve of her and her family. It hurts so badly to find out that grown ups think you're trash just because of things your parents/family do.

That's not fair.

I get it, I'm a mom and I'd be very concerned if "someone from the wrong side of the tracks" became the object of my daughter's affection at such a tender age, but using the excuse that her family sucks to get her away from your son will only harm her and him.

Have her over. Let her talk, talk to her. Talk to them.

She might be a really sweet girl just waiting for someone to give her a chance to let her real self come out. When you live in dysfuction you put up walls and a tough exterior. It's almost always false.

Just get to know her. She didn't choose her parents.
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#13 of 28 Old 04-08-2009, 03:56 PM
 
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I just have to jump in here and say that I dated a boy when I was about 17-18 who's mom didn't think I was good enough to be with her son. I knew it and it bothered me.
I hated that she saw me as the corruptor of her ds when he was the one who wanted to have sex and so on. She really thought that if he was with a girl who was a virgin and from a religious/good values family then he'd be better off. He was torn and not that mature (of course since we were only 18) so I had to put up with a lot of crap that I KNOW stemmed from little things his mom put in his head. That relationship really effected my self-esteem in a very negative way.

I hope that you'll be able to keep your feelings to yourself and only involve your son in them if he is being put in a situation that is not healthy. What you say to your son will color his opinions and feelings for this girl. You have the power to help him be a good influence in her life and someone who helps her see herself as a valuable person.

I do understand worrying about your son. I think that it's good to be protective but not when there really isn't any cause other than social status. As long as she's not encouraging him to skip school or do things that are illegal then I wouldn't worry. I also think it's great that you are acknowledging your feelings and trying to work on the ones that won't be helpful to your son.

Like another poster said, 15 is very young to be in a long term relationship and more than likely your son won't be seeing this girl for a long time anyway.
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#14 of 28 Old 04-08-2009, 04:05 PM
 
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I just want to add something else. My son is 16. He's reasonably responsible and mature - very much so for his age. He's a natural leader (eg. when he took choir this year, the teacher, who was also his 8th grade English teacher, told me he'd wanted ds1 in his class since early in 8th grade, because he knows ds1 can be counted on to ease social tensions, help out the kids who are less confident, etc. etc.). He's a volunteer counselor at our Outdoor School program (that involves leading groups of younger kids in chores, field studies, bonfire games/songs/skits and supervising a group in their cabin), and occasionally volunteers at the local Boys and Girls Club. He's kind, intelligent, creative, athletic, socially gifted, enthusiastic, etc. He's a big believer in being yourself, and not caving to peer pressure. He's incredibly self-confident...maybe even a little cocky. I feel weird saying it, because I'm his mom, but he's an amazing kid. His ex-gf's mom once told a friend of hers that he's "the boyfriend any mom would want for her daughter".

Aaaand...he comes from a broken home. His birth father, who was in the picture until he was 7, is a crack addict, with appalling personal hygiene, and who hasn't held a job since a few months after the breakup - and that job was a "son in law job" that my dad got him, and the only reason he didn't get fired sooner was that the boss is a king-size enabler who likes to feel as though he's helping people, while actually feeding their problems. DS1 grew up in a filthy home (complicated story) with an over-stressed, exhausted, and frequently sick mother, and parents who fought at least twice a week. My own life story isn't something designed to impress the parents of a potential girlfriend, although I've never been quite as messed up as my ex. I'm very glad that his first serious girlfriend had a mother who assessed him on his own merits, not on his family background.

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#15 of 28 Old 04-08-2009, 06:13 PM
 
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To the OP, I completely understand.

And I don't think I'd be entirely reassured by the idea that my child is being a good influence on his girlfriend. That's nice, but not his job.

BUT- perhaps you can look at it this way, what does it say about the girl that she chose your son? She's attracted to one of the good guys. She didn't pick a 'bad boy'. Frankly, that says oodles about her.

Someone moved my effing cheese.
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#16 of 28 Old 04-08-2009, 06:29 PM
 
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what does it say about the girl that she chose your son? She's attracted to one of the good guys. She didn't pick a 'bad boy'. Frankly, that says oodles about her.


This is an excellent point

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#17 of 28 Old 04-08-2009, 06:32 PM
 
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From the way you talk about her, it sounds like you actually like her. I understand your concern for your son though. I am very protective of my daughter too. I would feel the same way you are feeling.

From this side of your situation, I think it would be best to let it go. Invite her in to your family as much as you can, and welcome her with open arms. It's best to keep her on your side, and learn to love her the way your son does.

They are still young. So much will happen over the next four years, and this just isn't something I would worry too much about. Just be there for both of them in case they need you.
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#18 of 28 Old 04-08-2009, 06:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks to everyone who replied to this post.
Thanks for not telling me I am a horrible person; it really means the world to me to read your intelligent responses.

I will take everything you said into consideration.
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#19 of 28 Old 04-08-2009, 06:42 PM
 
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while i understsand your concern about her family's background, she is only 14, so young, and so impressionable. you should take this oppurtunity to show her love and how family CAN be. even if their relationship doesn't last a long time, if you put aside your feelings and show her warmth, that will go a long way with her for the rest of her life. think of the positive impact you could have on how she chooses to live from here on out.

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#20 of 28 Old 04-09-2009, 03:56 AM
 
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You say you are not thrilled with this girl, but everything negative you list is not HER at all; it is her neighborhood or her family - neither of which she has any control over.

You also state that neither you nor your dp graduated from college. How would you like it if one of your sons fell in love with a girl whose parents tried to talk her out of dating him because his parents only had a high school education? Is that fair? Is it loving or respectful to their child or yours?

Your ds has gotten through hard times, and is finally now happy with this girl and doing well in school. Let it be. Embrace her. And saying that there is no hope for her really is an ugly thing to say. Really sit and think on that - you are giving no hope for her? No one ever rises above a poor or challenging childhood?

You feel bad because you know it is wrong. You say you are straining the relationship you have with your son. So stop. I understand you are worried. But dating this girl isn't going to ruin his education. Please find it in your heart to embrace this girl, honestly like and be kind and attentive to her. The liklihood is that it is puppy love, and over within a few months. Or she could be the mother of your grandchildren. Do you really want to burn that bridge?
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#21 of 28 Old 04-09-2009, 09:47 AM
 
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I only read a few replies, but respond as the mother of a teenage boy who dates. My son is 17 and has been dating since he was ~15. He keeps it to one girl at a time, and some of his choices have not thrilled me. BUT... I found it beneficial to keep my mouth shut, encourage the girl to come here when I was home so they could hang out, have dinner, etc. All it took was time for him to recognize why they weren't right together. And these were not girls from "the wrong side of the tracks", so that really has nothing to do with anything.
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#22 of 28 Old 04-09-2009, 01:55 PM
 
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And I don't think I'd be entirely reassured by the idea that my child is being a good influence on his girlfriend. That's nice, but not his job.
I agree, and it would, to some extent, send up red flags for me. (I have a relative who has been trying to "save" people her whole life, and it's had a very negative effect on her.) OTOH, if that's part of the attraction, which it could be, I don't think it says bad things about the OP's son, either, yk? If he's a "rescuer", then it's likely that, at least for a little while, that's going to play some kind of role, major or minor, in his relationship choices. At least it sounds like he's picked someone that he wants to save from her environment, not from herself. I think that shows pretty good judgment for a 15 year old!

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#23 of 28 Old 04-09-2009, 02:28 PM
 
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Thank goodness, Lisa. It sounds like you kinda got what I was trying to say. That was awkwardly put, but I just can't figure a better way to say it.

Someone moved my effing cheese.
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#24 of 28 Old 04-09-2009, 02:50 PM
 
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I totally got it. My mom was concerned about a friendship of my sister's when she was in kindergarten/grade 1. She eventually spoke to the counsellor about it, and was told that "the good [my sister] was doing for D outweighed the harm that D might do [my sister]". My mom was kind of furious. She said she understood that a school counsellor might think that way, but she was angry that they couldn't understand that her first concern was for her daughter. (And, looking back, from 35 years later...the counsellor was wrong. I think the friendship with D did my sister a lot of damage, and I don't really think D got much of anything positive out of it. That may have been flipped around, if D had been more willing to come to our house, instead of other way around, of course.)

That kind of thing is hard to navigate. I don't want my son hanging out with people who damage him...but I also don't want him to write people off based on things they can't help, yk? His friend, J, can't help having a dad who is...umm...the first time I met the guy he was wearing a "support your local pole dancers" shirt. I really don't know what else to say.

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#25 of 28 Old 04-09-2009, 04:33 PM
 
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It agree with other PPs who say that you don't seem to have a problem with the girl per se, just her background. If she's basically a good girl at 14, I think that there's tons of hope. Tread carefully, I bet many of us stayed in relationships thanks to an obviously unsupportive parent far longer than we otherwise would have.

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#26 of 28 Old 04-09-2009, 09:10 PM
 
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I was always judged by others, not because of who I was.. but because of the family I was born into. I'm still judged even now by my ex and his family because of it. I am not like my family. I have never made the choices they have with drugs, alcohol, or trouble with the law. EVER. And to basically be told that I'm worthless because the rest of my family is, hurts. A lot.
Please don't judge her by things she has no control over.

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#27 of 28 Old 04-09-2009, 09:21 PM
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I dated a boy in high school whose parents didn't approve of me because my stepdad is Asian and we weren't Catholic.

Their attitudes spoke more about who they were than about who I was. KWIM?
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#28 of 28 Old 04-09-2009, 09:23 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AbundantLife View Post
I really, really hope that I don't offend anyone here with this post. I am in need of advice on how to handle something within myself.

My son is dating a girl who I am not thrilled with.

We are not rich. My husband and I both work full time in order to provide for our two children. Neither one of us graduated from college. We have raised our children in a typical middle-class fashion, exposing them to arts and culture within our budget and encouraging them with their hopes and dreams, which do eventually mean college and a career. (one of our sons is already in college and the 15 year old also hopes to attend.) Both of our sons are A students. We have tried not to immerse them in the typical middle-class culture of snobbery. That is why I am having such a hard time with this. I feel like a complete hypocrite.

My son's 14 year old girlfriend lives in a very tiny apartment in a not-so-good neighborhood with her mother, father, sister, sister's husband and their baby. The mother has a somewhat shady past and is very sick now. The family struggles to get by and the girlfriend has pretty much lived a life of turmoil. The family is trying, I think, to get their lives together. They take the girl to church (not my choice, as it is a fundy mega-church) and don't smoke in the apartment, as the girl has asthma.

From conversations I have had with the girlfriend, it sounds like her family and background are typical ghetto-ish (for lack of a better word). Her mother's family consists of biker gangs and others who have similar history.

This situation scares me and I am ashamed to admit that I have not been the most understanding person I can be.

My son says that the girlfriend tells him that she doesn't want to "end up" like her family members, but honestly, I don't see much hope for her.
My son is a "rescuer" and likes to help others. The family loves my son because they see a nice kid who has a good future and a good head on his shoulders. The g/f's last boyfriend was not so great and somewhat abusive.

My son is very upset with me because I am not altogether thrilled with this. He has struggled with self-esteem issues and has just recently gotten himself together. He has ADHD and almost failed 9th grade. This is the first year he has been successful in school and I am worried that he will lose sight of his values and goals being around her and her family long enough.

Ok. Sorry for rambling. I know that this comes across as judgmental. This is tearing me up inside and starting to strain the relationship with my son because he knows how I feel.
I just kind of wish he had chosen someone different.
You and your family could be GREAT for this poor girl. My ex husbands family talks me down all the time. They are judgemental of me and I have a mental disability. They just think I'm lazy. It really hurt my marriage. They were really hurtful. Just try to be undertsanding.
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