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I’ve been thinking about this for a few days.  We had a boyfriend situation with red flags go spectacularly bad here, but we had to step in bc dd was way too young and the boy older.  I also was honest with a friend once and that cooled the friendship for years ( they did divorce.)

I am a believer in trusting gut feelings, but do think that is different from red flags. I think I wouldn’t dance around the whispering issue with your dd.  But I would approach it by telling her that it makes you uncomfortable and ask if there is something you could do to help him feel more comfortable speaking directly to you. When he does it in the future I would say something like,”I am interested in hearing why you think it isn’t true.”  Be open and listen.

If there are other red flags, I might point them out but again approach it from a you and he relationship not a she and he relationship as much as possible.

I would absolutely work on making my relationship with dd strong and encouraging and safe and non-critical.  With our dd I hoped that having a healthy home environment would be a foil to the chaos that was the other. In our case, the narrative framed was that the chaos was bc if us, but eventually she set emotional boundaries ( where we had set physical bc of the age.) I think the healthy environment won. I know things have been chaotic for your dd with the divorce and estrangement from her dad.  Just try to be steady, calm and non-reactive for her now.

 

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37 minutes ago, Danae said:

I would not do any of the “talk about it indirectly” ideas offered here.  She’s not stupid, she’s going to know it’s about her boyfriend even if you frame it as about relationships in general.

I was thinking the same thing.  That sort of thing never worked with my son.  He always immediately knew what I was saying.  

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9 hours ago, BusyMom5 said:

I think the quiet - Thats a lie - comment is a red flag.  He isn't addressing you, he is almost driving a wedge between you, making you a liar, to distrust what you say.  As if he's emotionally isolating her, so that he is the one that she relies on for truth.  No cool, but necessarily bad, he could be immature or just not have good people skills.

That was my concern as well. I think this is a big deal. 

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Since it's onto the subject of gut feelings... I don't actually think gut feelings are very reliable. I think especially when they're about people, they're usually colored by prejudice more than our minds putting together some complex puzzle. I especially agree with someone upthread who suggested that when people think something is "off" about a person, it's often that the person is neuroatypical in some way and that's definitely more about prejudice than about some sort of wise gut feeling.

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8 minutes ago, Scarlett said:

I was thinking the same thing.  That sort of thing never worked with my son.  He always immediately knew what I was saying.  

Same. I used to hate it when my mother would try stuff like that, it’s so transparent and demeaning. Far more damaging than just confronting a situation IMO. 

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What was the thing that you said where he said "that's not true"?  That might help us frame things.

To tell the truth I really can't remember what we were talking about. Nothing too controversial .... I actually think it was something about her doing her taxes and what she could claim, etc. Pretty boring stuff. But when he leaned over and whispered "that's not true" I wasn't bothered so much by the rudeness of it, that I could chalk up to just being awkward. It was the fact that he seems to keep himself completely separated from the rest of us. It's almost like he does not want to engage with anyone and not just in a "shy" way,

As far as my gut feelings, I have learned over the years to rely on them more and more. The older I get the more I realize that with some people in my life I just knew something was wrong but never listened to myself. I know everyone has different personalities and different approaches but you come to expect a certain level of interaction ... a certain level of normal-ness. I've seen quirky, I've seen shy, I've seen awkward. This is not that.

I have also seen life coming at me with it's pants down and I didn't take the necessary steps to not get screwed. 

Any time I have tried to chalk things up to "that's just the way they are" when red flags are up it has always turned out to be that the person was bad news, not just different.

 

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I think it's perfectly ok to have a discussion with your daughter about when you think she's making a mistake.  I mean, we do that with our friends right?  I mean, it's not ok to be mean or nasty or rude about it.  It's not ok to hound and hound the kid.  It's not ok to try to be controlling or passive aggressive about it.  But if someone I know and love is doing something that I believe is a mistake or wrong and I am concerned for them.....of COURSE I am going to talk to that person about it.  

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My dd is much younger (15) but when I need to talk semi-indirectly I say things like, "Some people are in situation A, and other people aren't. Since I don't have a way of knowing whether or not you are in situation A, and you don't need to tell me, it's still my job to give you some info on that -- whether it's useful or not. Even if it's not useful now, it might apply later in your future too. I'm not saying this about you, specifically. I give the info. You decide if it applies. That way there's no need for you to disclose anything personal."

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4 hours ago, Danae said:

I would not do any of the “talk about it indirectly” ideas offered here.  She’s not stupid, she’s going to know it’s about her boyfriend even if you frame it as about relationships in general.

I think this really depends on what types of talks the mother and daughter are used to having.  If a parent and child have had discussions about what are healthy relationships, what are the things that each of them value in a relationship, what have both of them found as red flags in relationships of people they have known, etc. then I think there could be healthy communication without it being about the boyfriend specifically.  

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2 hours ago, Home'scool said:

To tell the truth I really can't remember what we were talking about. Nothing too controversial .... I actually think it was something about her doing her taxes and what she could claim, etc. Pretty boring stuff. But when he leaned over and whispered "that's not true" I wasn't bothered so much by the rudeness of it, that I could chalk up to just being awkward. It was the fact that he seems to keep himself completely separated from the rest of us. It's almost like he does not want to engage with anyone and not just in a "shy" way,

As far as my gut feelings, I have learned over the years to rely on them more and more. The older I get the more I realize that with some people in my life I just knew something was wrong but never listened to myself. I know everyone has different personalities and different approaches but you come to expect a certain level of interaction ... a certain level of normal-ness. I've seen quirky, I've seen shy, I've seen awkward. This is not that.

I have also seen life coming at me with it's pants down and I didn't take the necessary steps to not get screwed. 

Any time I have tried to chalk things up to "that's just the way they are" when red flags are up it has always turned out to be that the person was bad news, not just different.

 

It would be hard for me to know what to make of the "that's not true" comment.  If I were visiting a friend's home and the parent was telling the child what could be claimed on her taxes, I wouldn't feel like the family was necessarily trying to engage me in conversation.  Depending upon how much income and money has been talked about in his home, that may appear to be a very personal conversation being held right in front of him.  I would be much more concerned about how he reacts when he is drawn into conversations with questions like "What is your favorite movie?", "How do you think the Sea Hawks are going to come out this season?", "Where is your favorite place to go hiking?"--or something appropriate to his personality and interests.  

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5 hours ago, Home'scool said:

To tell the truth I really can't remember what we were talking about. Nothing too controversial .... I actually think it was something about her doing her taxes and what she could claim, etc. Pretty boring stuff. But when he leaned over and whispered "that's not true" I wasn't bothered so much by the rudeness of it, that I could chalk up to just being awkward. It was the fact that he seems to keep himself completely separated from the rest of us. It's almost like he does not want to engage with anyone and not just in a "shy" way,

As far as my gut feelings, I have learned over the years to rely on them more and more. The older I get the more I realize that with some people in my life I just knew something was wrong but never listened to myself. I know everyone has different personalities and different approaches but you come to expect a certain level of interaction ... a certain level of normal-ness. I've seen quirky, I've seen shy, I've seen awkward. This is not that.

I have also seen life coming at me with it's pants down and I didn't take the necessary steps to not get screwed. 

Any time I have tried to chalk things up to "that's just the way they are" when red flags are up it has always turned out to be that the person was bad news, not just different.

 

I did not know if I should put in my 2cents. I don't "know" you at all except a few posts like I "know" some people here. But I'd rather you hear feedback from a stranger than your daughter especially since you want to warn her.

Briefly my background. I grew up in an Asian country in a patriarchal system. My dad has always curbed me from doing things because I was a girl all in the name of "protection" and I have bristled against it. But when I chose to get married, even though I was here and had a chance to date, I chose to go back into that system and have an arranged marriage. I did it for two reasons, one because I had seen both my grandparents and my parents marriage up close and both were very caring, stable, loving marriages. The second and most important reason was my absolute trust in my parents, especially my dad as this system would give them heavy input and the guy would be vetted by them.  I trusted my dad that much and chose to give him control when I have always bristled against it. I did not have to, but I did because of my absolute trust that he will have my best interests in heart and be absolutely honest with me as he had always been honest with me even when I did not like what he did.  

So when you propose to do that to your daughter, do not be passive aggressive. Tell her the truth about what you feel about her boyfriend. How can you expect her to trust you when you are not honest with what you are trying to tell her. 

Second and most important, be specific When my parents said they did not like a person they were specific because they paid attention. Even though I absolutely trusted them I needed them to give me a reason. "Gut feelings" will not work with me. So pay attention and you will see it if there is a pattern. People tend to listen more especially if they will get defensive if they are given concrete reasons, not gut feelings and life stories.

Good luck sorting this out. DH and I try our level best to have the trust of our children from a young age because we know we may not have the kind of input our parents did in our life. So we are always honest with them to build trust and that we have always got their backs even if we say no and give specific reasons why we say no even from a young age.

Edited by Dreamergal
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Well, I'd say something. In fact, I did, with dd's bf. There is SO much baggage there, and dd tends to "rescue" people. When I brought it, dd was grateful for the affirmation that she can distance herself from this relationship. She was relieved. 

As to the quiet thing--I was overwhelmed by dh's FOO. They were SO rude, always talking over everyone, never actually LISTENING. I actually went a YEAR without talking around them, to see if they noticed. They didn't. I find myself interrupting people now, because if I don't, NO ONE hears me! I hate it. Every time I open my mouth, dh interrupts. It's part of his disease. He's completely self-centered. I have to start a sentence, he interrupts, and then I have to say, "I was TRYING to tell you so-and-so." "Oh, I know that.." "No, you don't. I'm just now telling you." His sense of time is very skewed. And then he goes off on some tangent that has NOTHING to do with what I need to tell him--information that he needs, such as the info that someone died. He doesn't listen, and then when he sees the family, he asks how the person is. Um, dead. And now you look like a rude idiot. At least once a week someone asks me how he is, because they've noticed the fact that he is not connected to reality. Not good. 

You have my sympathy about the bf. 

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10 hours ago, Home'scool said:

To tell the truth I really can't remember what we were talking about. Nothing too controversial .... I actually think it was something about her doing her taxes and what she could claim, etc. Pretty boring stuff. But when he leaned over and whispered "that's not true" I wasn't bothered so much by the rudeness of it, that I could chalk up to just being awkward. It was the fact that he seems to keep himself completely separated from the rest of us. It's almost like he does not want to engage with anyone and not just in a "shy" way,

As far as my gut feelings, I have learned over the years to rely on them more and more. The older I get the more I realize that with some people in my life I just knew something was wrong but never listened to myself. I know everyone has different personalities and different approaches but you come to expect a certain level of interaction ... a certain level of normal-ness. I've seen quirky, I've seen shy, I've seen awkward. This is not that.

I have also seen life coming at me with it's pants down and I didn't take the necessary steps to not get screwed. 

Any time I have tried to chalk things up to "that's just the way they are" when red flags are up it has always turned out to be that the person was bad news, not just different.

 

this.

 

I recall a conversation with a man - perfectly innocent subject.  we were talking about sheep.  He'd recently married a woman I knew, and people were happy for her as she was a divorced mom with two kids and everyone wanted her to be happy.

so - I'm talking to this guy -innocent conversation - and had the OVERWHELMING feeling he was trying to snow me.  There was zero reason for me to be "prejudiced" against him - I barely knew him. Everyone was hopeful this woman would finally be happy so we wanted to think good things about him,  etc. etc.  It was less than two months later I learned he'd been arrested for fraud - and was subsequently convicted and sentenced to several years in prison.

I admit I've ignored that "little voice" more times than I should - and I've always lived to regret it.

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5 hours ago, Dreamergal said:

I did not know if I should put in my 2cents. I don't "know" you at all except a few posts like I "know" some people here. But I'd rather you hear feedback from a stranger than your daughter especially since you want to warn her.

Briefly my background. I grew up in an Asian country in a patriarchal system. My dad has always curbed me from doing things because I was a girl all in the name of "protection" and I have bristled against it. But when I chose to get married, even though I was here and had a chance to date, I chose to go back into that system and have an arranged marriage. I did it for two reasons, one because I had seen both my grandparents and my parents marriage up close and both were very caring, stable, loving marriages. The second and most important reason was my absolute trust in my parents, especially my dad as this system would give them heavy input and the guy would be vetted by them.  I trusted my dad that much and chose to give him control when I have always bristled against it. I did not have to, but I did because of my absolute trust that he will have my best interests in heart and be absolutely honest with me as he had always been honest with me even when I did not like what he did.  

So when you propose to do that to your daughter, do not be passive aggressive. Tell her the truth about what you feel about her boyfriend. How can you expect her to trust you when you are not honest with what you are trying to tell her. 

Second and most important, be specific When my parents said they did not like a person they were specific because they paid attention. Even though I absolutely trusted them I needed them to give me a reason. "Gut feelings" will not work with me. So pay attention and you will see it if there is a pattern. People tend to listen more especially if they will get defensive if they are given concrete reasons, not gut feelings and life stories.

Good luck sorting this out. DH and I try our level best to have the trust of our children from a young age because we know we may not have the kind of input our parents did in our life. So we are always honest with them to build trust and that we have always got their backs even if we say no and give specific reasons why we say no even from a young age.

I think this is very important.  Maybe start paying attention to the things that really big you and that seem off to you.  Your example of him saying ‘that’s not true’ is a good one....that is weird, rude and off I don’t care who you are.  If he had knowledge of something you were saying wrong, for Pete’s sake speak up. Or if you are just so shy you can’t then don’t whisper in public....save it until later and tell your gf then.  
 

And for all of you saying you were just so shy, so quiet, so overwhelmed by your spouses family......well, even so failure to engage at least a little is just rude.  

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I don't want everyone to think that the boyfriend leaning over to talk only to her is the only issue I saw. I was just using that as an example. I could lay out more, and they all could probably be listed under him being shy or awkward or intimidated. 

But I don't think it is just that. There is a vibe around him that makes me uncomfortable. I guess that is just the best way to describe it.

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37 minutes ago, Home'scool said:

I don't want everyone to think that the boyfriend leaning over to talk only to her is the only issue I saw. I was just using that as an example. I could lay out more, and they all could probably be listed under him being shy or awkward or intimidated. 

But I don't think it is just that. There is a vibe around him that makes me uncomfortable. I guess that is just the best way to describe it.

If you try to engage him in conversation, what happens? Like if you ask him about his life?

My DH is kind of... awkward around my mother. He's not afraid of her, or trying to be rude, but he hardly talks at all. They don't have too much in common other than both being nice people. It's extremely hard for him to make "small talk," and in fact he hates small talk, and thinks that the existence of small talk is ridiculous. He always says, I'll talk when I have something to say, and if not, I just won't talk. With certain people, he won't STOP talking... and sometimes won't notice that the other person is ready for him to stop. My opinion is that he actually thinks small talk is difficult, but he doesn't say that, he just says that it's stupid. Maybe he has some social thinking deficits, who knows, but it's definitely apparent that he talks less to her than the average person would.

However. He wouldn't ever say something under his breath around my mom. When she talks to him directly, he responds normally and politely. If she happens to say something about politics, all of a sudden he has a lot to say! The fact that he doesn't do small talk kind of bugs me... I think it's rude to some degree, and that he should exert himself more to practice... but I would be upset if he did the under-the-breath thing. Like @Scarlettsaid, either say it or don't, don't whisper it. I wonder if your daughter thinks it was off, too. 

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1 minute ago, kdsuomi said:

That's the reason I just avoid families, and even that is considered rude. Sorry, but I'm not going around trying to please other people. I have high anxiety and am a natural introvert. I'm not changing myself just to make extroverts happy. 

OMG, that's exactly what my DH says. I say, you gotta try to at least talk a little. He says, why should I have to adjust to the world... why shouldn't the world have to adjust to ME?

I think trying on both sides could be a good compromise. He tries to chat a bit, and we accept a bit of chatting and then don't get on his case when he's sitting there doing his crossword puzzle. (Which is what usually happens, and we're totally fine with it.)

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23 hours ago, Bootsie said:

 

 

On 9/9/2020 at 6:39 AM, Danae said:

I would not do any of the “talk about it indirectly” ideas offered here.  She’s not stupid, she’s going to know it’s about her boyfriend even if you frame it as about relationships in general.

 

23 hours ago, Bootsie said:

I think this really depends on what types of talks the mother and daughter are used to having.  If a parent and child have had discussions about what are healthy relationships, what are the things that each of them value in a relationship, what have both of them found as red flags in relationships of people they have known, etc. then I think there could be healthy communication without it being about the boyfriend specifically.  

Bootsie, sorry about quoting you twice. I can't figure out how to get rid of the second quote.

When I suggested talking about Homes'cool's dd's relationship goals, I was referring to what Bootsie said. If the relationship between mom and dd hasn't had any goal discussing, it's quite possible a discussion like that would backfire. I've had those types of discussions with each of my daughters and sometimes it's been in reaction to "What do you think of boyfriend?". If I saw red flags consistently, I would probably mention them to my dd. But, based on my sister's experience with her dd, I would also make sure my dd understood I would be on her side at all times and would have a place to come to if needed.  

I think there were some issues others had about me marrying dh. One relative said her goal was to mention them to me, then let me decide on my own. My philosophy runs along those same lines. That said, I've never been in or around a potential abuse situation. If I were, my decisions then might be different.

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20 minutes ago, kdsuomi said:

 

I don't want the world to adjust to me, and I do eventually open up and engage as much as my psyche can handle. It just takes time. If the people in the meantime are going to judge me as being rude because I don't meet their expectations, though, that's a no go. 

Agreed. We need to be okay with people as they are and not judge.

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On 9/8/2020 at 10:18 AM, Home'scool said:

I have really tried to like my daughter's boyfriend but I just don't.

They have been dating for over 2 years now. I don't see him all that often because she has her own apartment about an hour from me, and when she comes to visit she does not always bring him. On the surface he seems nice, maybe just a bit quiet. But then after a while I realized he is not just quiet, he literally does not engage at all in any conversation! My family can be rambunctious and loud so maybe that intimidates him, but even when it is a quiet, small group he doesn't engage. I do notice, though, that sometimes when I am talking about something to my daughter if he does not agree with what I am saying he will lean over to her and quietly say "that's not true" or something like that, but never to the person talking.

The last time she visited with him was 2 weekends ago. She had period cramps really bad and was basically on the couch with a heating pad and ibuprofen the whole time. And he was quite attentive to her by rubbing her back, etc. But as I was watching him rubbing her back I am thinking "I should be happy that this guy is being so nice and attentive to her when she is uncomfortable but instead there is just something off about the whole thing." I don't think he is weird in any perverted way ... I'm not saying that. I just don't trust his motivations. My gut doesn't get a good feeling.

My daughter has had a tumultuous couple of years with our divorce and I feel like if she was completely mentally healthy and strong she would not be with this guy. I worry that he keeps her weak.

My stepfather was extremely controlling to my mother. Every morning he would lay out a banana and vitamins for her to take, he would handle all difficult things around the house, he was always in charge. On the surface it seemed like it was all done in a caring way, but eventually it turned into complete control. I am worried that is what this guy is like.

They are planning on moving across country next year. If nothing changes I may sit down with her before the move just to express my concerns but I worry that will blow up. Ugh

 

 

Maybe he has Aspergers? And just has not disclosed it?

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1 hour ago, Kanin said:

OMG, that's exactly what my DH says. I say, you gotta try to at least talk a little. He says, why should I have to adjust to the world... why shouldn't the world have to adjust to ME?

I think trying on both sides could be a good compromise. He tries to chat a bit, and we accept a bit of chatting and then don't get on his case when he's sitting there doing his crossword puzzle. (Which is what usually happens, and we're totally fine with it.)

But we aren't talking about 'the world', right?  This is inlaws or potential in laws.  And I do agree with you, in the interest of family harmony he should try some.  And it sounds like your dh does try.  

1 hour ago, kdsuomi said:

 

That's the reason I just avoid families, and even that is considered rude. Sorry, but I'm not going around trying to please other people. I have high anxiety and am a natural introvert. I'm not changing myself just to make extroverts happy. 

Well, thee ya go then. Shrug.  

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2 hours ago, Home'scool said:

I don't want everyone to think that the boyfriend leaning over to talk only to her is the only issue I saw. I was just using that as an example. I could lay out more, and they all could probably be listed under him being shy or awkward or intimidated. 

But I don't think it is just that. There is a vibe around him that makes me uncomfortable. I guess that is just the best way to describe it.

Have you considered a different approach?  You say that you are concerned about him keeping her weak and that if she were mentally healthy you don't think she would be with him.  Would it help to put aside any conversations about the boyfriend and focus attention on her and what it means to be mentally healthy?  

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On 9/8/2020 at 9:15 AM, Susan in TX said:

If you want to talk to her about it do it now. Don't wait until right before they move. I would express concerns without in any way criticizing the boyfriend. Share with her the dynamics of your mother's relationship with your step-father and tell her your concerns. I would say something like "I'm sure boyfriend isn't like this, but here is an example of an unhealthy relationship so watch out for these red flags". 

I would also try to get to know the boyfriend better. It could be that he is just introverted and doesn't feel comfortable with your family. Let your daughter know that you want to get to know him and try to arrange some family activity you can all do together.

Susan in TX

 

This.  

I know people who have had really bad relationships and we’re upset that no one who had red flag feelings had shared those before it was too late.

So I think you should share your misgivings with your daughter, ASAP rather than waiting. And as delicately as possible.  Even having a “funny feeling” about him, but uncertainty if it’s just because he reminds you of someone else could be worth saying.

I think that’s better than your daughter ending up in an abusive situation and you had not even mentioned misgivings.  

Prepare that she may be angry.  However it is part of parenting imo to mention concerns like this. 

 

 

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On 9/8/2020 at 8:04 PM, katilac said:

What do you do when the boyfriend whispers to her? Can you just go ahead and address it directly? 

"Why do you think that, Bad  Boyfriend?" 

"I think it's true because of X, Y, and Z. Why do you think it's not true, Bad Boyfriend?"

"Eh, what was that? Speak up, sonny, I can't hear you when you whisper!"

 

Worth trying!

 

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On 9/8/2020 at 8:18 AM, Home'scool said:

On the surface he seems nice, maybe just a bit quiet. But then after a while I realized he is not just quiet, he literally does not engage at all in any conversation!

 

What are his interests?  Has conversation around his interests been tried? 

 

On 9/8/2020 at 8:18 AM, Home'scool said:

My family can be rambunctious and loud so maybe that intimidates him, but even when it is a quiet, small group he doesn't engage. I do notice, though, that sometimes when I am talking about something to my daughter if he does not agree with what I am saying he will lean over to her and quietly say "that's not true" or something like that, but never to the person talking.

 

Ssaying “that’s not true” about what? 

Specifically? 

 

 

On 9/8/2020 at 8:18 AM, Home'scool said:

My daughter has had a tumultuous couple of years with our divorce and I feel like if she was completely mentally healthy and strong she would not be with this guy.

 

That might be worth talking about with her. 

 

 

On 9/8/2020 at 8:18 AM, Home'scool said:

They are planning on moving across country next year. If nothing changes I may sit down with her before the move just to express my concerns but I worry that will blow up. Ugh

 

 

 

I would do it now.  Right before a major move sounds like a bad time.  Better to have a year for her to think about things and maybe for you to get to know him better. 

 

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On 9/8/2020 at 8:08 PM, Scarlett said:

If I Had a gut feeling about someone in a loved ones life I would probably do a background check on them. Which I know many think is wrong.  Hopefully I would find that there was nothing concerning.  

This.  It may not show anything.  Yet, it might.  When a relative finally admitted she was being abused by her dh, who had been married before, her parents ran a background check and found a huge list of prior arrests for assault, battery, domestic abuse, etc., going back to his early 20s. They kicked themselves for not having done it beforehand. 

Are people notified when someone runs a background check on them? 

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7 hours ago, klmama said:

This.  It may not show anything.  Yet, it might.  When a relative finally admitted she was being abused by her dh, who had been married before, her parents ran a background check and found a huge list of prior arrests for assault, battery, domestic abuse, etc., going back to his early 20s. They kicked themselves for not having done it beforehand. 

Are people notified when someone runs a background check on them? 

No I don’t think so.  

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