Be Tough On The Concepts

David says his girlfriend's parents are a bad influence, encouraging her to buy things on credit. How can he give her good advice without contradicting her parents?

QUESTION: David in Atlanta says his girlfriend just started her first job as a social worker. Her parents are a bad influence, encouraging her to buy things on credit. How can he give her good advice without contradicting her parents? Dave tells David he can’t.

ANSWER: You don’t have to trash her parents, but you can say that they’re looking at it one way and you look at it another. The way you look at it has worked for you. You’re sitting there with $100,000, you’re in great shape financially, and most Americans are broke because most Americans live the way that your girlfriend’s been taught. As a social worker, she’s not going to make a lot of money, and she doesn’t need to have this mess on her hands.

Truthfully, as your relationship progresses, you guys are going to have to get on the same page on this subject. This is a deal breaker. It’s kind of a “love the sinner and hate the sin” thing. I can disparage what they teach without disparaging them.

One way to philosophically address the issue is let’s pretend that her parents were engaged in some horrendous behavior. You don’t have to trash them, but you can trash the behavior. Cocaine is not okay. Love your mom and dad…sweet people. But the cocaine part? Not so good. Borrowing money on appliances is a dumb idea. Love mom and dad, but borrowing money on appliances is a dumb idea.

You’re going to find that you have relatives you don’t agree with. That’s part of the beauty of family. You get to hang out with people you otherwise wouldn’t. You’ll just learn to love some of them anyway. You don’t have to be mean about it, but you do have to be tough on the concepts.