Dealing with objections to your new relationship from your adult children
Dating again but facing objections from your adult children? Here’s how you can start to understand and deal with their concerns without ruining your love life
If your adult children object to your relationship, the first step to rectifying the problem is to find out why they feel that way. Here are a few of the most common concerns shared by grown-up children:
When you start a new relationship, your bond with your adult children will change. You may have been much more available to them before – free to look after grandchildren or help them financially – but now your life is fuller and you have less time (and money perhaps) to devote to them.
Jealousy can also occur because they’re not used to seeing you show affection to anyone else. Even if they accept it rationally, they may still have to deal with difficult emotions. This is most common when a man sees his mother dating again. It can be very hard to accept if he has been the only man in her life for a long time.
Jealousy is a strange emotion and it’s difficult to control. If you suspect your children are jealous, it’s important to make sure you introduce your new relationship gently. Ensure that your children are still getting enough of your attention, so they don’t feel your new partner has stolen you away from them. Be sensitive when it comes to showing affection in front of them – seeing our parents kiss can be uncomfortable no matter how old we are!
There have been many stories in the media about con artists preying on vulnerable older people. It’s right and natural for adult children to want to protect their parents and their assets. They’re likely to feel even more protective if you have been single for a long time as they might doubt your ability to make good choices. Sometimes this is exacerbated by the parent’s own lack of self-confidence, which results in them seeking their children’s approval. It’s much the same way that children want acceptance and understanding from their parents when they make changes in their own lives.
Children don’t want to see their parents hurt or taken advantage of. They can struggle to welcome a new partner if they doubt that partner’s suitability or sincerity. Frequently children can’t even pinpoint what it is they don’t like about your partner. If this is the case, try to explore this together. Listen carefully and address their concerns directly.
As harsh as it sounds, sometimes adult children can object to your new relationship because, if you remarry, it’ll affect their inheritance. Offer reassurance if you think this is the main reason they object and consider making a will if you think it will help.
Loyalty to the other parent
Adult children can object, not because they dislike your new partner, but because they feel they are assuming the role of their much-loved deceased or absent parent. All you can do in this situation is to reassure them that your new partner is a not a parental figure and he or she is not displacing their other parent.
How to deal with objections from adult children
If your adult child’s behaviour is causing serious problems in your new relationship, here are some questions you should ask them:
- What would you like to achieve with this?
- What effect is my new relationship having on our relationship?
- Do you think your attitude is affecting my relationship with the person I love?
- What would you like to see happen?
- Do you think your behaviour is going to change my choice?
Don’t hesitate to let your adult children know that their behaviour upsets you. Tell them if they make you feel torn between wanting to please them and wanting to move on with your life. Remember, your children are adults and have lives of their own.
Ask them to give your partner a chance. Thank them for their concern and remind them that your choice of companion is not theirs to make. If the situation still doesn’t improve, try to continue a separate relationship with them, rather than severing the bond.
As with all blended families, it will take time for everyone to adjust to the new situation. Sometimes no amount of reassurance will help, but over time, as your children see you happier, more fulfilled, and enjoying life, they will come to see that you’ve made the right choice.
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