DEAR AMY: My daughter, who is 18, has been dating a boy from her high school for eight months. They are going to different colleges. He is Muslim and has not told his parents about the relationship (because my daughter is not Muslim). She believes they would accept her if she converted to Islam.
They are in love and enjoy being with each other. My daughter does not want the relationship to end. The boy is torn because of the deception and he knows he cannot marry my daughter unless she converts. He talks about ending the relationship but has not made any effort to do so. He expects my daughter not to date other boys in college. She would never convert to Islam in her heart, but I am afraid she will do whatever it takes to make this relationship work. Do I just let it play out and see what happens? I have explained my concerns about her marrying a Muslim without actually embracing the religion. I've told her that I don't think he has the right to limit her dating in college if he has not even told his parents about his relationship. Any advice? Worried Mom
DEAR MOM: Both parties in this drama are very young. Their youth and immaturity are both an advantage and a disadvantage in the dynamic. It is not balanced or healthy for your daughter to be in a "secret" relationship, and I agree with you that the boy's choice to keep this a secret from his parents lacks integrity.
Your focus should be on urging your daughter to enter her college life wholeheartedly and to resist anybody's efforts to control her (however, if you push too hard, she'll realize you are trying to control her).
You should discourage any talk of marriage -- not because of the religious differences, but because they are simply too young. Your daughter should know you expect her to obtain her degree before marrying anyone.
Stay calm, and try to stay neutral, open and close to both of these young people.