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Dating After Divorce Advice: "My kids hate my boyfriend.... Now what do I do?"

By Susie and Otto Collins

Judith has been single for over 10 years now. After her divorce, her sole focus was managing being a single mom and supporter of herself and her kids-- both financially and emotionally.

It took Judith by surprise when she started dating again. A few months ago, she met Keith and they've gone on regular dates ever since.

At first, Judith considered the whole thing fun and casual.  She didn't intend to get into love relationship, but that's exactly what's happened.

Recently, Judith introduced Keith to her kids (both are teenagers) for the first time. To her horror, they were rude and cold to Keith.

Despite their usually kind and respectful personalities, Judith's teens made it very clear that they did not want another man in their mom's life.

After this uncomfortable first meeting, Judith's kids informed her that they "hate" Keith and that she should stop seeing him.

Judith feels angry, sad and frustrated. She doesn't know where this relationship with Keith will end up, but she'd like to continue it and find out.

Whether you are a divorced woman or a divorced man, when you are ready to date again and possibly create a relationship with someone new, it can be tricky.

If you have children-- of any age-- you might worry about them liking or approving of this new person in your life. When they do meet your new date (or partner) and they've made it known that they do NOT like him or her, you may feel torn.

Just like Judith, you probably care about this person...but you also care deeply about and don't want to upset your kids who are so important to you.

If you're in a situation like this, here's some advice to help...

Don't take it personally.
As you probably already know, getting angry with yourself or your kids because they do not like your new partner is not going to help the situation at all.

Resist the urge to take this personally.

There might be a complicated and varied set of reasons why your kids have decided that they dislike your new partner.

It might have more to do with their own grieving process for the changes that have happened in your family (no matter how long ago the divorce was).

It might have some link to challenges and struggles
that are going on within themselves as they get older. It could also relate to a disconnecting dynamic that has developed between you and your kids.

Don't make up stories or jump to conclusions to explain to yourself why they don't like your new partner.

If you really want to know why, sit down alone with them and ask. Ask from a place of curiosity and with an intention to understand and not from a place of hostility or judgment.

Listen closely and ask questions if you aren't clear about what they are telling you.

Lastly, try not to make their opinion or assessment
of your new partner right or wrong. Allow them to have their opinions and feelings.

Don't make it an "either/or" decision.
When faced with the dilemma of your kids disliking your new partner, you might feel pulled and caught in an impossible situation.

You may feel like you have to choose either your kids or this new person-- all of whom are special and important to you.

The good news is that you don't have to make this an "either/or" decision.

You can create agreements that will give you all the opportunity to be genuine and respectful and follow the paths of your choosing.

For example, if your kids don't like your partner, don't expect them to spend a lot of time with him or her. This might be challenging to schedule if they are young, but it can work.

Make sure that you are spending plenty of quality time with your kids (one-on-one) and also with your new partner.

With communication, honesty and a willingness to be flexible, this can be a satisfying solution for all of you.

You can also set ground rules and talk about expectations with your kids (and with your new partner) in advance of those times that you all are going to be together.

Let your kids know that they don't have to like your new partner, but they do need to be respectful and polite. Be specific about what you expect and stay open to the boundaries that they might want to

As you talk with your new partner about his or her interactions with your kids, you might advise that he or she be kind and available, but not pushy or forceful.

If your new partner allows your kids to come
to him or her in terms of their attention and interest, it will be much smoother.

Would you like to learn words, phrases and sentence-starters that can help you communicate with loved ones about even difficult topics like these?  Click here to find out about Susie and Otto's Magic Relationship Words e-book.


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Contact Info
Relationship Coaches Susie and Otto Collins, PO Box 14544, Columbus, OH 43214
Contact Susie or Otto about Relationship Coaching by calling (614) 568-8282.
For all other inquiries, contact us by email.

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