Did you know that there are an estimated 52 million felons in the United States as of 2020? That is 15% of the population! While this is a relatively small percentage, it does make up a chunk of the dating pool. For the parents who have a rebellious child in their lives, this number can be quite startling. If you are asking yourself “What do I do if my daughter is dating a felon?”, here are some ways to handle this scenario.
First and foremost, it is important to answer the question of “What is a Felony?”. If you have never committed a crime, you may not be aware of the severity of the various types of charges that come with this label.
Most states define this title as a crime that holds a maximum sentence of at minimum one year. However, this can go up to a life sentence. While a lifer will not be your problem, the guy with a lesser charge may be, especially those who are repeat offenders.
How To Handle Your Daughter Dating A Felon
1. Examine The Charge
This one word represents a lot of crimes. These can include rape, murder, assault, armed robbery, kidnapping, child pornography, identity theft, blackmail and arson, to name a few.
Someone can also be charged with a felony for copyright infringement, perjury, property damage, or illegal gambling. These are clearly unlawful actions as well. However, in this scenario, while it likely doesn’t give you much peace of mind that your daughter is dating someone with a skewed moral compass, there is the slight possibility that this person just made a bad life decision in their youth.
It is important to investigate what the crime entailed, how long ago this incident occurred, and if they have turned their life around. If the charge is a one-time offense that involved actions that were NOT violent, dangerous, or malicious, try to give this person the benefit of the doubt until you meet them and can make a true assessment.
2. Run a Background Check
If their name has not changed and you know the places that they have lived, it is not that hard to look up a person’s background. Most criminal charges are available to the public but keep in mind that criminals are great at hiding pieces of their past, so do your due diligence and see what you can find.
Reach out to the Department of Public Safety in your state to see what information they can provide. This can help to give you peace of mind and a better picture of this person’s past. There may be nothing more to find or there may be information that your daughter is unaware of and needs to know.
3. Treat The Topic With Kindness
Everyone knows the saying “girls love bad boys”. It is a prominent theme in modern cinema.
However, when this fictitious movie moment becomes a reality in your family, it can be quite jarring and scary. The job of a parent is to protect their children but unfortunately, if your child is of legal age, they can technically do whatever they want.
While the threat of “my house, my rules” works well when they are young teens and have nowhere else to go, the last thing you want to do is drive your eighteen-year-old daughter into a felon’s arms, and home, by giving ultimatums. Therefore, if your daughter is dating a felon, bridge the topic with caution, in a calm and collected manner.
First, take the time to meet the man because the last thing you want is for her retort to be “you don’t even know him!”. Consider inviting him over to your home so that you are in a controlled and private environment where he might feel more comfortable speaking openly.
During the visit, inquire about his family, where he is working now, what his passions are and any other topic you would discuss with any new suitor. You want your daughter to see that you are making an effort. Remember, do not turn this into an interrogation but instead, find ways to pull out key information in a less obvious way.
Next, ask your daughter about what she likes about him and where she met him. Find out what they have in common and if their aspirations align. The main goals in this scenario are maintaining your daughter’s safety and well-being as well as keeping your relationship strong.
Then, take some time to observe their interactions and how they function as a couple. Play some games, show him family photos, and ask him for help in the kitchen. How does he respond to requests for assistance? How does he react when things do not go his way? Is he polite, endearing, and compassionate?
Finally, on a separate occasion, invite her over to discuss how you feel and your concerns about the relationship. Make sure the conversation is civil and the tone is positive. Remember to highlight things that you found appealing about this man during his visit.
Lastly, end this talk by reiterating that whether you completely agree with the scenario or not, you are always there to support her. Tell her you love her and only want what is best for her and her future.
There is much more of a concern for a parent if their daughter is dating a violent felon. This triggers a bigger urgency to get her to end the relationship. However, do not forget that teens and young adults tend to cling to things that are considered “forbidden”.
Therefore, appeal to her rational side and note that while he may be a great guy in person, his past decisions could not only put her in danger, but they do not bode well on paper.
By dating him, it could cause her to not be able to rent an apartment or buy a home. She may also need to be the sole provider in the household (work can be hard to come by for felons) and she would likely never be able to adopt a child.
Furthermore, if she is a fan of firearms, she can kiss skeet shooting, hunting, and time at the gun range goodbye. If she loves to travel, many governments do not allow convicted felons in their country. Finally, if your daughter intends to go into a profession that involves background checks, this relationship could impede her from obtaining this role.
The hope is that if you present this information in a non-confrontational way, she might be logical enough to see the light. If you are not comfortable having this conversation, see if a family member or friend might start a conversation.
The past can never be changed but the future can still present better times. When dealing with this situation, try to remember that many people have done things in the past that they regret and the felon can be one of them. He messed around with the wrong people or things and ended up getting in trouble for it.
It can be hard to look at someone like that with your precious daughter but if you can sense that he has turned his life around for the better, you should be open to your daughter dating him.
Another thing to remember is that other family members like relatives might also want to meet him and get to know him. If you are uncomfortable telling them that he is a felon, then don’t bring it up. There are times where someone’s past should not be brought up so if he is being introduced to the external family, try not to bring up his past so the family members don’t judge him from the beginning.
Final Thoughts – How To Handle Your Daughter Dating A Felon
Realizing my daughter is dating a felon is never a positive parenting moment. Your child will always be your baby, but once they hit eighteen, they are legally an adult who is allowed to make their own decisions and choices.
The person who will be taking care of your daughter needs to be the best fit for her and her needs. Whether your daughter is dating a narcissist or a felon, what you need to figure out is how this relationship will affect your daughter’s life.
When you find out this information, take a deep breath. This is a sensitive topic that requires a conversation that is courteous and kind, so don’t go in guns blazing. Collect your thoughts, hear your daughter out, meet the guy and then make an informed decision for or against the relationship. Make sure to avoid yelling and to have a calm tone because getting emotional about this situation can offset an important conversation.
Finally, if you are a good parent, then you likely set a good example for your kids. A picture is worth a thousand words so find ways to showcase positive behaviors to contrast the negative behavior of a felon. This method can allow her to see for herself that she might have made a mistake.