Should I Invite My Mom Even Though She Calls Me a Slut?


AAPW: I'm almost out of high school, and my mom doesn't know that he proposed

by Liz Moorhead, Editor, Ask APW

DeathtoStock_NotStock10

Q: I’ve been with my boyfriend for over a year now. We are both eighteen years old. We have been best friends for three years. My mother was supposed to be working late one day and we decided to get frisky. My mom came home early. We practiced safe sex, which she is grateful for, but she hates him. I understand that she is upset. We broke her trust. It has been three months since the incident. She gets mad even hearing his name. About two weeks ago, he proposed. I said yes, but I am five months from graduating high school, and we can’t find a place that we can rent in town so that I can live with him and finish high school. I still have plans to go to the local college, as does he, but how do I tell my mother? The rest of my family loves him. If she keeps up this behavior, should I not invite her to the wedding? We understand we messed up and have both apologized multiple times for it, but she insists on calling me a slut and treating me awfully. I just don’t know what to do anymore. I’m confused and hurting and it hurts him too. Help us please.

—A Hurt “Slut”

A: Dear AHS,

Hold on now, before you run off and get married. There’s a whole lot to sort here.

First up: your sexual experiences are your own. Your mom is allowed to have expectations for what you do while you’re living in her home. But, other than that, you are only responsible to your own self for what you do with your body. She should not be calling you a slut. Please don’t internalize that message.

There is nothing wrong with waiting for sex, or having specific convictions about when and how you have sex. (Hi, I waited until my wedding night.) But sexual decisions are personal. And in a parent-child relationship, it can get sort of murky when very adult, very personal decisions start to come into play. Your mom is used to being primarily responsible for your safety and well-being, and she’s probably used to that meaning she gets to call the shots. The first several times these personal, adult decisions factor in, it’s always weird and tough, but the legally-an-adult-but-living-with-mom years make it even trickier to navigate. This is when grown-ups on TV specials start yelling, “Not while you’re living under my roof!” She still has some input in how you live your life. But that input should start to be more limited, and it can make these parent folks feel a little desperate (or even say some awful things).

In other words, Mom can be mad if you lied to her and said you weren’t having sex. Mom can be mad if she asked you not to have sex while in her home. But neither of those things makes you a “slut” or gives her the right to call you one, even (especially) as your mom.

Ideally, this all would mean a big chat with Mom. First, clarifying with her that you respect her opinion and love her a ton, but that you feel your choices regarding what you do with your body are personal, and are not up for discussion. This is where she may play that “not in my home” card, which is fine, but the important thing is to make it clear that she has control of what happens in her house, not of what choices you make for your body. There’s a distinction there. Second, you’d want to express that the word “slut” is untrue, unfair, and needlessly hurtful, and that it would be better for your relationship if she chose a different way to express her disappointment. Third, you’d probably let her know that you understand she dislikes your boyfriend, but you’re growing increasingly serious with him, and you hope that she can give him the opportunity to earn her trust the way he has earned yours.

I’ll be a realist. Such a conversation might not happen, and I won’t push for it. Taking a leap from, “Slut!” to a prolonged, civilized discussion may just be way too much for right now. What I will push for, though, is you to get this stuff solid in your head, there. It sounds like you’ve really taken her words to heart, and I wish you wouldn’t have. Start figuring out for yourself—what is a fair, gradual, balanced way to move from “kid” to “adult” in your mom’s eyes? How much of your personal decision-making do you want to loop your mom in on, and where should you start drawing lines and laying boundaries?

While you’re doing all that thinking, also think about why you’re marrying this guy when (yep, here it comes) you’re so young. I swear to you, I’m not on the “too young to marry!” bandwagon, but there are a few pieces of your story that set off my red “rushing! rushing!” flare. Eighteen is young in years, but that doesn’t necessarily mean too young all by itself. You’re also not on a steady path just yet, and neither is he. And because of the surrounding story, I worry that all of this shaming about sex is making you feel pressured to marry him only because you’ve shared this experience. Or, if not because of the sex, because your mom is putting you in the position of “us against the world!” which always makes it feel like your only options are extreme. Also, it’s a pretty good rule of thumb that if you’re not ready to openly tell your parents, “Here is what I’m doing,” concerning a big life choice, then you may not be ready to make that big life choice.

Delay these wedding plans a good long while. Marriage is a big moment with rippling effects. Making this decision right now, in a rush, before trying to sort things with your mom could permanently set the course of your relationship with her (and not in a good way). Besides, you’re still in the beginning phases of figuring out who you are as an individual, apart from your parents. That’s a big, huge thing to do, and takes a bit of time before you can start tying yourself to someone else.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO ASK APW A QUESTION, PLEASE DON’T BE SHY! IF YOU WOULD PREFER NOT TO BE NAMED, ANONYMOUS QUESTIONS ARE ALSO ACCEPTED. (THOUGH IT REALLY MAKES OUR DAY WHEN YOU COME UP WITH A CLEVER SIGN-OFF!)

Liz Moorhead

Liz is an illustrator and writer who paints custom stationery and types up impassioned opinions about weddings, etiquette, feminism and motherhood (usually while shaking a fist and mumbling expletives around mouthfuls of cheese fries). Her spare time is spent sipping bourbon with her husband and playing Don’t Throw That in the Toilet with her sons.

[Read comment policy before commenting]

  • Maddy

    As someone who married her high school sweetheart at 20 (he proposed when we were 18), I also get some rushing vibes. Obviously I don’t know the whole story and can only get info from what LW has said. From my personal experience, we talked for a LONG time about deciding to get married, and then had an 18 month engagement- there really is no rush at all. You seem to be indicating that you either want to get married quick smart or do the move in thing ASAP. Take the time to work on your relationship with your mum, spend LOTS of time talking to each other- why do you want to get married? And try to stay focused on your education in these last few months, and when you go to college- planning a wedding and starting your new family is stressful and time consuming, I planned my wedding during my second year of uni and you can see it in my grades! By all means, be young and married and grow together and enjoy all those beautiful things, but make sure it’s coming from the right place :)

    • april

      I’m going to echo the long engagement suggestion. If nothing else, I imagine that a conversation between LW and her mom where LW says “hey, I know you have your doubts about my boyfriend – but our relationship is serious and we’re discussing the possibility of marriage” is going to go better than a conversation where she says “hey, I know you have your doubts about my boyfriend – but get over it because we’re getting married next month” …

      Sometimes parents just need time to adjust to the idea that their children are becoming adults and forming new families. This is true regardless of the age of the “child” – my mother’s reaction when I, at age 25, told her that my boyfriend and I were talking about getting married 2 years later when he finished grad school was “well …. a lot can happen in 2 years ….” For the record, the only thing that happened during those 2 years was that she accepted the idea of us getting married ;)

  • heather_kaye

    Wonderful response. As someone who saw many good friends get married at young ages (and sees it every day in my church work/Southern community), I can say with 100% certainty that you MUST have a good support network – and that goes double for parents. Shoot, I’m 33, just married, and I honestly don’t know what we’d do without our folks. This is not a things-will-go-wrong scenario – this is hey, life is hard when you’re just one person, and it gets exponentially harder as you add humans to the equation. It’s just how things are.
    I vowed to my husband that I would do everything possible to see that as we grow, we grow closer together – but that would have been an impossible promise for me fresh out of high school. There are so many changes that are going to be happening… I, as a well-meaning Internet stranger, vote for you to focus on you for a while, in whatever that means; a long engagement, continuing your relationship without jewelry involved, whatever. Take this time for YOU – learn who you are on your own, in your family, in your community, and then you will know who you can be in a romantic relationship.

  • Bethany

    I’m definitely concerned about the rushing to get married. You’ve been dating a year. You’ve only known each other for three. Go to college, try new clubs, try a job, figure out who you are on your own before you tie your life forever to another person. If you’re meant to be for each other, you’ll still be meant to be after college.

    For now, work on repairing your relationship with your mom. She can set rules for what happens in her house. You set rules for what happens with your body. College is a great time to move into a dorm.

  • Alice

    I agree that it would be good to take some time to think. It’s easy to feel like people don’t respect your opinions and feelings and needs and wants when you’re eighteen, and that’s not where I’m coming from at all. Love this guy, maybe even try moving out on your own and then in with him, be engaged if you want, but do give yourself some time to graduate and start school.

    Speaking strictly from my own experience, I changed a LOT as a person between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one. You may, too. Which is not to say that those changes will make you stop loving this guy. They might make you love him way more! But give yourself some breathing space. Weddings and marriage are hard. College is fun, but it can also be really hard. You and your man can support each other through these life changes, and use it as practice for growing your serious relationship and life together.

  • Alexa

    Just chiming in as another person who is currently married to my high school sweetheart. (We also started dating our junior year of high school.) In our situation his parents were the ones who had an issue with the relationship (for cultural reasons they didn’t want him dating at all). I also strongly recommend the long engagement/waiting to get married. It gave them time to come around to the idea of us as a couple, so that by the time we had the wedding they were supportive, and everyone involved had much stronger relationships, which really helped us navigate the complications and high emotions of wedding planning.

    And I am so sorry your mom responded so harshly and negatively. If it continues I hope you are able to figure out a different living situation for college. (Hopefully independent of the idea of getting married, because having that situation feel forced is likely to make everything so much harder.)

  • Violet

    I am so sorry this was your mom’s behaviors towards you. It is harder because, as a student, you are still financially dependent on her. Unless you plan on becoming 100% financially dependent once you graduate high school, her opinion is going to continue to matter. Not her opinion that you’re a slut (sigh), but if she doesn’t support your relationship, she might not want to support you if you’re in it. To whatever extent you’re in it, dating or married.

    If you ARE planning on being 100% financially dependent when you graduate, that means a full-time job in addition to college. You are going to be BUSY. Frankly, WAY too busy to add a new marriage to the mix. This is not about your age (though, yeah, on some level of course it is), but this is because starting a new job, moving, and getting married are already some of the top life stressors. Don’t sign up for all three at once if you can possibly avoid it!

    I’m speaking as someone who’s been with my husband since we were in high school, too. I am NOT saying your relationship isn’t significant, or you’ll change your minds, and that’s why you should wait. I’m saying it because there are lots of things happening at once. We in no way regret checking high school off the list, then college, then grad school before tying the knot. It allowed us to focus on each important life task and still grow our relationship over time. If it’s right, it’ll be right later, too. There are literally no drawbacks to waiting, and clear complications to doing it earlier.

    • Lisa

      This is because starting a new job, moving, and getting married are already some of the top life stressors. Don’t sign up for all three at one if you can possibly avoid it!

      As someone who did exactly this within the span of three weeks, I will happily co-sign this advice.

      • Amanda

        I got engaged & changed jobs in one year. The one thing EVERYONE told me is “Don’t get pregnant!” A really good rule of mental-health & wellness is “don’t make 3 big life decisions/changes in one year.” Your body, your mind will have a very hard time with that, no matter how old or young or mature or otherwise. So, you’ve entered into a physical relationship. You’re graduating high school/starting college. You’ll be moving into your own apartment & presumably paying your own way for the first time. You’ve racked up your big 3 right there. Add a stressful parent-child dynamic and it’s spelling too much for one person, any person.

        • I did all four this year.

          • Danielle

            omg

          • Patricialdavis2

            ❝my .friend’s mate Is getting 98$. HOURLY. on the internet.❞….few days ago new McLaren. F1 bought after earning 18,512$,,,this was my previous month’s paycheck ,and-a little over, 17k$ Last month ..3-5 h/r of work a days ..with extra open doors & weekly. paychecks.. it’s realy the easiest work I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months ago and now making over 87$, p/h.Learn. More right Here;b87➤➤➤➤➤ http://GlobalSuperEmploymentVacanciesReportsOnline/GetPaid/98$hourly…. .❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:::::;b87…..

        • Kara E

          I will flip that to: I got engaged, married, moved states, and pregnant within a year. And dealt with major health issues and moved to a third state after less than a year of getting married. But I was 35. Trying to do all that as a younger and frankly, less mature person without the support of family and mature friends would probably have been a ticket to divorce court or the hospital for me/us

        • Lindyrgriffin1

          ❝my .friend’s mate Is getting 98$. HOURLY. on the internet.❞….few days ago new McLaren. F1 bought after earning 18,512$,,,this was my previous month’s paycheck ,and-a little over, 17k$ Last month .,3-5 h/r of work a days ..with extra open doors & weekly. paychecks.. it’s realy the easiest work I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months ago and now making over 87$, p/h.Learn. More right Here;b432➤➤➤➤➤ http://GlobalSuperEmploymentVacanciesReportsApps/GetPaid/98$hourly…. .❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:::::;b432…..

        • Anon

          My fiance moved (internationally), we got married, both started new
          jobs, got pregnant (it was ectopic so there were/are serious
          health/emotional issues), and are now in the process of trying to a buy a
          house so we can move to the state where our jobs are instead of
          commuting 1 1/2 hours each way. We haven’t even reached our first
          anniversary yet. It’s definitely a stress on our marriage that I’m not
          sure if we would have managed if we were younger (we are 33/37).
          Frankly on some days like the day after a 3-hour commute, random
          leftover fallopian pain, and the worst housing inspection report I’ve
          ever heard of (foundation issues, a septic system replace, and mold
          throughout) we don’t handle it well.

          As a counterpoint, when we
          get super-frustrated/overwhelmed by big life stuff, we are able to turn
          to each other, which makes it more bearable.

      • Did the same in 6 months and I very much agree. Whenever you can limit the number of life-altering changes, you should.

        It was hard for me and I had moved, gotten a new job, and been married before. Doing all for the first time AT the same time is just asking for trouble.

      • I did those three within a six-week period, and it was one of the hardest times of my life. There were all good experiences, and I wanted to do all of them….but so very stressful too….

        • Amanda

          Absolutely! It can be good stuff, it can work out, but it’s a lot to process!

    • Emily

      “If it’s right, it’ll be right later, too.”

      THIS. Perfectly said. I’ll be marrying my high school sweetheart after 15 years together. We waited for a lot of reasons – college, grad school, getting started in our careers. We were long distance for many years, too, and wanted to actually live together before committing to marriage. And that time has honestly made our relationship so much stronger. We changed a lot between 18-22 (as most people do), but we both gave each other the freedom to do that. If we had gotten married right out of high school, I can’t imagine it would have been a successful marriage.

  • Jess

    People more qualified than me have lots of good things to say about being young and engaged/married below.

    What I can speak to is this: nobody has a right to tell you what to do with your body or to make you feel ashamed for practicing safe sex in a safe relationship (whether it’s been 1 day, 1 year, or 1 decade). Nobody. Ever.

    Liz has some great advice on how to talk with your mom on that front, and I cosign all of it.

    Be confident that you’ve made the choice you wanted to make at a time that is was comfortable for you to make it – eventually she can get used to that idea too. For me, repeating an internal mantra of, “I’m happy with the way this is, I’m not responding/reacting to your comments trying to make me feel otherwise” went a long way to stay calm and not argumentative (explosive reactions do not help prove that you’re a mature adult, for what it’s worth).

    • Rebekah Jane

      “What I can speak to is this: nobody has a right to tell you what to do with your body or to make you feel ashamed for practicing safe sex in a safe relationship (whether it’s been 1 day, 1 year, or 1 decade). Nobody. Ever.”

      SAY IT AGAIN FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK!!!

  • BDubs

    Plenty of wise and well-meaning advice here! Much love to you!
    To answer just your specific question, I think worrying about not inviting your badly-behaved and negative mom to the wedding is a maybe.
    Obviously nobody thinks it is appropriate to have a poisonous person in your life who will just hurt you, but big life events are important to families. We fret about inviting aunts, uncles, and second cousins sometimes, when we may not know or even like them. This is your mom who presumably raised you and provides some good qualities, aside from the name calling and disliking your fiancé. Am I wrong?
    Chew on the topic but don’t let it consume you. You don’t have to make a firm decision about who gets an invite and who doesn’t until, what, two months before the magic moment? You don’t need to have an answer today unless you’re getting married next month.
    Also, once you make known your intentions to marry, the situation will very likely change, and drastically. Maybe she’ll get worse. Maybe she’ll decide to be different. It’s hard to predict.
    Just like people change and (hopefully) grow, so do interpersonal relationships. Give it a chance to become better. Even if it’s a one-in-a-zillion, you can know you gave it a chance.
    Let us know how you decided to handle it, please?
    :)

  • Cathi

    I’m wondering if there’s more to the mom-angle than meets the eye, namely that perhaps mom isn’t a great mom in other ways beyond “insisting on treating [LW] terribly” and calling her a slut for three months and counting. If LW’s mom is unreasonably controlling, or manipulative, or abusive I can certainly see why LW and her fiance want to tie the knot and GTFO ASAP.

    But that said, LW: you don’t need to get married in order to move out of your house. You don’t need to get married to live with your fiance (though I’m sure you’re assuming marriage will legitimize your relationship and will ensure your mom doesn’t get even more upset when you flounce off to “live in sin”). Go ahead and be in love. Go ahead and start your lives together. But maybe hold off on the marriage stuff.

    Wouldn’t it be nice to show your family that you two not only really do have serious intentions about each other (and aren’t caught up in “young people in love = rash decisions” that might be assumed about you), but also give your mom time to come around? Maybe in a couple years, once you’ve been together longer and making a life together and had friendlier interactions and stronger, enforced boundaries with your mom you can have a wedding where everyone, even your mom, can attend and be happy for you.

    Or maybe the next couple years reveal that there won’t be a reconciling of differences with your mom regarding your fiance, and at that point you will have formed a different support network and will have a couple years of evidence to remind yourself of why you wouldn’t want your mom there, and to help convince yourself you won’t regret it.

    • Eh

      “though I’m sure you’re assuming marriage will legitimize your relationship” I would caution the LW against assuming this. My in-laws (including extended family) did not like my SIL leading up to her marriage to my BIL (my SIL was a single mother, on welfare, living in subsidized housing and my in-laws were concerned that she was just with him for his money). (They were together for 3 years before they got engaged, and then were engaged for a 1.5 years before they were married – so there was no “rushing” into it.) Some of my BIL’s family vocally objected to their marriage. My BIL and SIL’s attitude was that getting married would legitimize their relationship and force the family members to accept her. After the wedding, many of the family member’s attitudes had not changed (some people said things like “well they could still get divorced”). My BIL and SIL became even more defensive of their relationship after the wedding because my SIL was still not being accepted by the family (to the point where they were going to cut ties with the family over how she was treated). It took 1.5 years for things to calm down and they now (almost four years after their wedding) have relationships with most of the family.

      • Cathi

        I completely agree–by and large if people are against your relationship, getting married isn’t going to help their opinion of you.

        My prior comment was more speaking to what I suspect LW is thinking. Any parent who’s mean enough to terrorize their 18-year-old for months after finding out she’s having sex is the kind of parent who isn’t going to approve of living with a non-spouse partner. I’m assuming LW might think they “have” to be married in order to live with their partner, otherwise mom will never come around. The rest of my comment was trying to speak against that thought. They can still start spending their lives together, they can still move out and live together. They don’t *have* to get married, really, no matter what they might think right now.

        • Eh

          My BIL’s position until well after they were married was that it wasn’t his family’s business to question their relationship or intentions (i.e., that he loved her and that should be enough for his family). It wasn’t until they allowed people to see into their relationship that people came around (e.g., how my BIL and SIL treat each other during the hard times, like when one of them is sick, instead of putting up a façade). So I agree that starting to spend their lives together and might help the mother come around (or it might not).

  • Rebekah Jane

    While I didn’t marry my high school sweetheart (and thank goodness), my little sister has been with an amazing fella since she was a sophomore in high school. Now, at 24, the two are just beginning to nail down plans to get married even though it has been the obvious conclusion for years. But, they waited this long to ensure that their careers would be in order. He’ll graduate from law school in the spring and she’ll get her associate degree on top of her bachelors at the same time. Both want to have solid employment before marriage and I could not be prouder of their intelligent choices. My sister has even said that she’s grateful they didn’t get married sooner, because they were able to grow up together without the fear of breaking something as sacred as a marriage. So, while you don’t need to wait 8 years, grow a little together. The staggering difference in who I was at 18 and who I am now is terrifying and I’m personally thankful that I got to become more of myself before meeting my parent and even more thankful that my sister has grown into a badass super awesome lady next to a cool guy, not just because of him.

  • AmandaBee

    Lots of great comments that I really can’t add to much to, so I will just say this: being young means that you will reinvent yourself a whole bunch of times in the next 5 years or so, and so will the person you’re with. This is why so many people caution against rushing into a marriage when you’re so young. You may grow and change in ways that are totally compatible…but then again you also may not. Lots of people have had it go either way, and there’s just no way to know. Why not decide to start this period of your life together, and see where it takes you? There’s no rush.

    • jubeee

      You will grow and change. No one is the same as they were when they were 18. I know its hard to see it in the future but we continually evolve as we gain in years and experience. Good to see if the two of them grow together without the legal contract that they might have to break when they see they are different people.

  • Kara Davies

    At 18, you’re still a kid. You’ve got one job to do as a kid: FINISH SCHOOL. Once you’ve graduated, and have a job, THEN start thinking about marriage. Marriage isn’t something to rush into at 18. Give it a bit of time!

    • A.

      I get that you’re speaking colloquially, since I’m sure you know that 18-year-olds are very much adults in the eyes of the law, with the exception of drinking alcohol and renting a car without exorbitant insurance fees. But frankly, there’s also no way to make a young adult dismiss your advice faster than calling them a “kid.”

      • ART

        I want to upvote you but don’t want to create an account. So I nod in your general direction.

  • Lauren

    I’m about to marry my high school sweetheart – I was 15 when we started dating – but we’ll have been together for almost eight years and we’ll have lived together for four and a half when we get married in August. If you plan to be with someone for the rest of your life… you literally have the rest of your life to get around to getting married. There’s no reason to rush!

  • Erica G

    As someone who experienced something kinda similar as an 18 year old, (not the proposal, but we moved in together) who you are at 18 can change drastically even by 21. My High School sweetheart and I grew apart emotionally and even resented each other, but neither of us would be the one to break up. It ultimately became an abusive relationship and he was cheating, but felt trapped with me because we had set ourselves up as this unbreakable unit. Some relationships are strong at 18 and remain that way forever. My Sister got engaged at 19 to her high school boyfriend, but they waited 2 years to actually get married. They lived together, got joint bank accounts, and all that, but they still waited and saved and ended up having an amazing wedding, and they are still together today, 6 years later. I am now with someone who its truly the love of my life… I am 28 now and my life is so vastly different than it was 10 years ago… Do not let someone tie you to who you are in high school. Proceed with caution! Have fun being engaged, but also look very critically at your relationship for awhile before you tie the knot!

  • Anne

    I know I’m super late on this, but just in case LW is still reading the comments: There is no scenario where it would ever be okay for your mother to call you a slut. Ever. From my personal experience I’d rate LW’s relationship with her mother abusive. And if this is true the most important thing is to move out of her house ASAP. However, especially if this is true, I’d take a lot of time before getting married.
    The reason for this is that I know what being abused by your parents does to you. You really have no way of telling if the person you’re with at the time is the right choice, as long as you’re still living in an abusive environment. When I was still living with my mother, I had a boyfriend and I was super sure he was the one and I’d marry him. Now, seven years later, having moved out of my mother’s house and getting to a place where I no longer believe what she says about me (mostly), I realize that that guy wasn’t all that much better than my mother.
    So what I’m trying to say is, get away from your mother, move in with your fiance if you want, but wait with the marriage thing until you no longer believe your mother when she calls you a slut. Because until then, you have no way of knowing what you’re worth and what you actually want and deserve from life. Good luck.