After years of being single, when you decide it’s time to move on and start dating again, it opens up a whole new dimension in your life. But if your adult children are having a difficult time accepting the fact that you’re moving on, you might start to question yourself and your choices.
You may feel that it’s impossible to move on without your children’s consent. But, before you turn your back on what could be a sweet blessing, it’s important to get to the bottom of why they feel the way they do.
Reasons why your grown kids might have a problem with your new love interest
Understanding why your kids are behaving as they are is the first step toward resolution. Here are some of the reasons why they may be concerned:
They may feel protective of you
If you have been on your own for a long time, it’s understandable that your kids would want the best for you. If your new love interest is somebody brand-new, someone you have recently met who has no connection to any part of your previous life, it’s natural that they would want to check them out a bit before they give you their blessing.
These days, we hear so much about slick con artists preying on the alone and lonely. For your own safety and to alleviate their fears, it’s a good idea to do some checking into their background before you dive right in. If your kids see that you are going into the situation well-informed and with your eyes wide open, it might help.
They might be jealous
Jealousy is a complicated matter. Your adult kids might not even know where it’s coming from themselves, but there are a few distinct possibilities.
You’ve had plenty of time for your kids in the past, and perhaps, now that you are dating, you are less available for moral support, babysitting, and even for financial help. Such a significant change can lead to anger and resentment if you don’t address it right away. Let them know that you are always there for them, but that you need to take time for your own happiness as well.
Kids of any age often find it uncomfortable to see their parents kissing or being affectionate. When it comes to a new love interest, this could make it even more “weird” for them.While you shouldn’t alter your decisions or compromise your happiness just to make them happy, you can avoid showing overt affection in front of them. This can be particularly difficult for adult sons as they may have gotten used to being the only man in your life. Be sensitive to their feelings without ignoring your own.
Loyalty to the other parent
If the other parental figure has passed away, they may feel you are dishonoring their memory or trying to replace them. Try to reassure them that this is not the case, and your new love is not taking on a parental role.
Going beyond how your new love changes their relationship with you, some adult children will be concerned about how it is going to affect their inheritance. It’s essential to address these concerns as financial issues are highly charged, and they won’t likely go away on their own. If necessary,draw up a new will or share your intentions with them to alleviate tension.
How to deal with the conflict between your new relationship and your adult kids
According to Dr. Wednesday Martin, author of the NY Times bestseller “Stepmonster,” one of the biggest reasons a marriage will fail is because of children from a past relationship. This is as true for grown children as it is for minor children.
If you want your new relationship to have a chance despite the challenges you face from your grown children, here are a few tips to help you keep the peace – and your sanity:
- Introduce your new love gradually. You can’t expect everybody to just get in line with your decisions, despite how irrational some of the reactions may seem.Your kids have an image of what things were like before, and they will likely try to hold on to it.
Take things one step at a time. Invite them to lunch so they can get to know your new beau in a neutral setting. Avoid doing this at family events as emotions may run high and set a negative tone for the future. Give them a chance to develop their own relationship with your partner, and if they insist on being hostile, don’t be afraid to let them know that their behavior is unacceptable. That’s not how you raised them, after all!
- Be sure to make one-on-one time for them. You don’t want your kids to wonder how they are going to fit into your new life. Make sure they know that you love them always and forever and don’t insinuate your new partner on every visit.
- Set boundaries. No matter how mature they are, your kids don’t want to hear personal details about your love life. Save those talks for girl’s night with your bestie.
- Don’t let your new love isolate you from your kids. Make sure your new partner knows that your kids are number one and that no matter how close you have become, they will always be a priority. Jealousy works both ways, and no matter how uncomfortable things might be in the beginning, you will both have to find a way to coexist.In a respectful, healthy relationship, there should be room for everybody.
- Be sure your kids know that you are always there for them. Respect their feelings, let yours be known to them, and focus on compromise. Don’t force the issue, but don’t shut them out, either. Let them know that your door is always open anytime they need you.
Choosing to love again after being single for a long time isn’t always easy. If you are dating again and having a difficult time navigating your new reality, we’re here to help. Reach out today to learn more about how we can help.