Controlling your children’s relationships

I recently read an article about Gordon Ramsey who was talking about how he wouldn’t be leaving all of his fortune to his children because he wanted them to earn their own money, which by the way, I admire.
In the article it mentioned how Gordon is good friends with David Beckham, but that he’s told his children they’re not to date any of the Beckham’s kids.

This made me think back to my own adolescence and how my parents controlled my relationships. It wasn’t necessarily friendships that were controlled, but relationships with boys.

Now, I totally understand the need for parents to look out for their children, but I don’t agree with parents trying to control who their children can and can’t see. That is unless, the person of their affections is dangerous or involved in illegal activity etc., then I say go ahead and step right in!

When I was younger, I remember dating someone who my parents blatantly didn’t like. It was mainly because of the area where the boy grew up, but also because he was kind of ‘rude’ toward them, but it was just the way he was. Rather than letting me figure it out for myself, I remember being sat down on the sofa in the living room and being told to end things with him.

Of course that just made me more determined to see him!

Like most parents, I am very protective of my girls, but I would never ever dream of telling them who they can and can’t see.

If I went through their entire life telling them what they can and can’t do, never allowing them to make their own mistakes, how on earth would they learn to live by them?

After all, that’s what mistakes are for! They’re a learning curve, a chance to reflect on what went wrong and how we can avoid making the same mistakes again.

I’m sure when my girls start dating, there’ll be a few people who I will most likely disapprove of, but who am I to stand in their way of happiness? As long as the person they’re with treats them right, makes them happy and is there for them, then I’ll be happy that they’re happy.

What do you think? Will you step aside and let your children learn for themselves, or will you step in and voice your concerns? I’d love to hear what you think!

46 thoughts on “Controlling your children’s relationships

  1. Oh it’s such a tricky one. I agree, when my parents told me not to hang out with someone or date someone it just made me want to do it more. I hope hubby and I can really find a way to lead by example and hopefully keep the communication lines open with our kids so they can continue to talk things through with us. #ThatFridayLinky

  2. He clarified that comment stating they can’t date the Beckham kids because the friendship could be completely ruined if the kids developed bad blood after a relationship. My parents did the same thing when I was younger with their very best friend’s boys and I’m so grateful because they are still my most trusted friends to this day. And since I’ve not maintained a friendship with any exes, I probably would have lost theirs if we had dated and put a strain on the parent’s friendship as well. But I do agree with you, dating is a learning curve and not everyone will be a winner. #ThatFridayLinky

  3. Such a tricky question! My little girl is a long way from that yet, so I can safely say that I haven’t though about how I’ll approach this topic with her. It’s a fine line between advice and control

  4. I think unless there’s obvious danger I’ll be more likely to step aside and let them learn. I can remember not really listening too much to my parents advice.

  5. #ThatFridayLinky

    I really don’t know what I’ll be like! I mean, I can’t imagine I will control their relationships because I am all about child-led/Respectful parenting. But looking back, I don’t know if I mightn’t have been saved some heartache if my parents had stepped-in or at least offered some advice over whom I dated!

  6. It’s a tough one isn’t it, as you need them to make their own mistakes and of course if you put your foot down there’s a chance they’ll rebel just to spite you. I think it’s just trying t get that balance right of helping guide them to make the right choices which is probably far easier said than done. I totally agree with Gordon Ramsay too! Thanks for hosting as always #thatfridaylinky

  7. At the moment we have so many relationships to manage for our adopted children – social workers, foster carers, biological relatives. It’s very difficult sometimes. Managing their friends (or boy/girlfriends) is something I wouldn’t do unless the friendship is one which is harmful (in a very serious way). At the moment I’d love to have the opportunity, but finding friends seems to be tricky for them.

    Thanks for sharing #thatfridaylinky

  8. This is an impossible problem.
    When my girls were dating I tried to keep an open mind but it was very hard sometimes. (My hubby was more open with his views on their choices lol)
    There were boys they dated who I thought were lovely… and turned out not (damn it!). There were boys they dated who I hated… and was right (and I smiled secretly when she was heartbroken that he’d dumped her). And then there were boys they dated who I hated… and they turned out OK (yes, really!). You can’t know… and neither can your children.
    Good luck

  9. Really difficult to answer that question. As a Mum of a girl, and having been through some testing relationships, I think if I didnt approve of someone she dated and had a valid reason then I would step in. Other than that, I would be there to listen and offer advice if asked and give support when needed. I do dread the day she dates and having to give the talk on the birds and the bees – can’t they stay our babies for a bit longer? They grow up too fast!

  10. I would have to bite my tongue but I agree with you. If you want them to learn, they have to make a few mistakes. Also if you want to keep a good relationship with them, it’s important to respect their decisions too. Great post. xx Thanks for hosting x

  11. I would like to think that I will allow my children to make their own mistakes. My parents let me, they would do (what they thought) subtle things to let me know that they didn’t like the boy but they wouldn’t say anything until it had ended. There was a couple of instances they said that it was up to me but they weren’t coming in the house, followed by a few choice words, and they were right but still they let me get on with it. I appreciate now that it must have been difficult for them to do, and then to see me in tears when it all went wrong. #ThatFridayLinky

  12. Interesting read, I have three boys and I must admit I would not want to say anything and let them make their own mistakes and be there for them when needed as my mum did for me. But must be hard sometimes 😂😱🍷 #thatfridaylinky

  13. Hi, interesting read. A tricky one though. I was aware when my parents didn’t like a friend be it male or female. I was left to learn from my mistakes, it worked for me, but might not for some #thatfridaylinky

  14. I certainly agree that children/teenagers/adults all need to learn from their mistakes and I hope to let my daughters do that. But at the same time I know how hard, as a parent, it’s going to be to stand to the side and let them! #ThatFridayLinky

  15. I suppose it’s hard to know how you’ll feel until the time comes. With the best intentions in the world, once your child is a teenager we may feel differently! #ThatFridayLinky

  16. Oh this is a tricky one, and very close to home for us at the moment. We are in the prosses of moving because of some undesirable people around where we live. I won’t go into it to much detail but i definitely think you cannot control who they are friends with but you can certinatly steer them in the right direction. x

  17. I sometimes find myself trying to steer Duckling & Gosling away from kids I’d rather them not play with in the playground so I can’t imagine what I’ll be like once they start dating.
    A great blog – lots to think about.

  18. It’s a tricky one, because as parents and adults we can probably see trouble before our kids can, just because of experience. But then again, you have to gain that experience in the first place so where would any of us be if our parents never let us make our own mistakes? I don’t think I’d try to ban one of my boys from seeing anyone, but I probably would try to help them see when someone wasn’t good for them.

    And the biggie is, of course, that if you tell a teenager not to see someone, they’re going to go out of their way to see them, so being too strict will always backfire!


  19. Absolutely agree with you, the more you stop a child from doing something the more they want to do it! I also think that when it comes to friends & relationships you have to let them make their own mistakes! #ThatFridayLinky

  20. My cousin was my best friend. We did everything together. As a kids we didn’t see anything wrong with sleeping in one bed but my grandmother had problem with that. Fortunately my Mom was OK with that and we could sleep together 🙂

  21. Yes! I will obviously give my opinion should it be wanted but when all is said and done it is up to them to make their own decisions and learn by them. I left home at 15 and I had a lot to learn but I learnt it quick because I had nobody down my ear saying I shouldn’t do this and shouldn’t do that. Everyone told me to steer clear of Kevin when we first got together because I was 16 and he was 24.. here we are.. still together and got 2 beautiful boys and next year we have been together 10 years. #thatfridaylinky

  22. My little one is only 2 so I have a long way to go yet, but I can’t see me being the type of person to control her relationships. It’s hard as, the more you say no, the more they want to do it! x

  23. It’s so tough, I mean part of me thinks of course I won’t control their relationships, but then if it came to it and they were seeing someone I really disapproved of, I’m not sure I could bite my tongue! My eldest has friendships that I am not happy about, and I do find myself making comments here and there, even though I try so hard not to! In my mind my children will never have boyfriends or girlfriends, in reality they’ll be knocking down the door! #thatfridaylinky

  24. Thinking about it, I would step in. I’m very over protective of my boys and if I thought they were in with a wrong crowd or a girl that isn’t right for them I’ll tell them straight.

    I’m his parent and I believe he should respect what I say/think. When they hit 18+ they can make their own decisions on relationships.


  25. I think that as girls, we get that a lot more than guys do. I’m sure some boy moms are controlling like that, but boys are often allowed to get away with way more and have more freedom sometimes. I think it pretty much always leads to resentment of some sort. #ThatFridayLinky

  26. Like Sarah said, if we want them to learn then they need to make mistakes and learn from them. It’s such a difficult one when we all have the benefit of experience on our side. Great post – very thought provoking.

  27. I completely agree and my kids will be free to see whoever they wish! Love is a funny thing and is different for everyone…you need to make mistakes to find out what it means for you. #thatfridaylinky

  28. I don’t think I will tell my children who they can and can’t date. They do need to figure it out themselves and I wouldn’t want to push them away. I would hope that my children would be able to listen to any reasons why i think they should be careful when the time comes

  29. My oldest is nearing ten and I still want 100 percent control over her out of school relationships. So I guess not age ten. I have no clue really- esp because she would befriend a damn tree!


  30. Really interesting post. My little fella is 7 and I don’t seem to have any issues as yet. He tends to pal around with the kids on the street and I know all their families. The little girl is onlt 1 and a 1/2. I suspect I’ll be a bit more protective of her and boys. But your post has me thinking.

  31. My mum has quite a relaxed style of parenting, one which some may say is too relaxed. She never interfered with any of my relationships (friends or boyfriends) and of course I made mistakes but they were my mistakes to make and my lessons to learn. I’ll try to offer guidance as Rory grows but I want him to live his life. If things don’t work out as he hoped I’ll be there to offer a sympathetic ear #ThatFridayLinky

  32. I completely agree that we should allow our children to make their own mistakes and trying to be too controlling will only end badly. My parents pretty much let us do what we want but we still knew the limits and were pretty good kids so I think sometimes hands off really does work #ThatFridayLinky

  33. It’s a difficult question. One I haven’t really thought of yet, in terms of romantic relationships. I do however explain to my children what good friends are and what bad friends are. Hopefully they take my advice… Holding thumbs 🙂 #thatfridaylinky

  34. I always joke and say ‘good luck to any girl trying to get near my boy!’ but I jest! I remember exactly what it is like and so long as he is happy, I will be happy (or try to be). Well, I say this now but when the time eventually comes, it may feel different. I can see why some do it when they only want the best for their kids and don’t want to see them get hurt (that was my Mum’s favourite line!), but I can also understand that they need to make their own mistakes to learn from them. Good food for thought. #thatfridaylinky

  35. It’s such a hard one! I’m hoping I will be the parent that will step aside and allow them to learn from their own mistakes. But I know the over protective mummy in me will want to interfere and protect them from the world! X #thatfridaylinky

  36. I think you just have to take a back step, but let your child know you are there for them. I was told not to see a guy and I just went behind my parents back to see him instead #thatfridaylinky

  37. I am NOT looking forward to the teenage years for this very reason…

    When I was growing up my dad said “It doesn’t count as a date until you can drive to their house to pick them up.” We lived in a state where I couldn’t get my license until I was 17.

    Thanks for hosting #thatfridaylinky! Good luck with your girls!

  38. Emily this made me smile as it is a hot topic with my 18 year old at the moment. Every time I catch him watching TOWIE I find myself saying “please tell me you are not going to come home with a girl like that on your arm!” Terrible I know and I will probably be shot down in flames but as I don’t have a benchmark yet of the kind of girls he likes this is all I have to go on at the moment. But in all honesty I have some pretty nightmarish boys in my past and my parents just let me get on with it and learn by my own mistakes so I hope when it comes to it and he does come home with someone I will be charming! Thanks for hosting. #ThatFridayLinky

  39. my SIL was engaged to someone who we all hated and for two years we went through any way possible to try to split them up, from being nice, to being blatently rude, to telling her we hated him etc.
    he was involved in illegal activity, he had court orders to restrict access to his kid due to drugs and anger issues…. lets just say he needed to go on jeremy Kyle!! The more we tried, the more she wanted him until she came around and saw for herself.
    You cant force someone to do something or not see someone they dont want to do unfortunately! #thatfridaylinky

  40. There is no sense in telling them who to date. There is no harm in those relationships. They are, like you say, a learning experience. I think it’s best to teach them to respect themselves, take things slow, and not allow people to bully them into anything they are uncomfortable with. That way those learning experiences are much more likely to have positive outcomes. Forbiding them from seeing a particular person is sure to backfire. Sorry for the late comment. #ThatFridayLinky

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