It’s common – almost cliché – to hear stories about parents not liking their adult child’s partner. But just as often, adult children of divorced or widowed parents aren’t too keen on Mom or Dad’s new love interest, either.
It’s natural to feel uneasy or uncomfortable about your parent being in a new relationship. You may feel like it’s too soon after the divorce or death for your parent to be pursuing a new partner. It can also be hard to adjust to the idea that your mother or father is now a single adult back on the dating scene.
In some instances, your feelings about your parent’s new boyfriend or girlfriend may change with a shift in perspective, and a willingness to get to know the person. After all, their partner probably feels nervous about entering an established family and making a good impression on you. However, there are some cases in which you’re right to be concerned about the person who’s stolen Mom or Dad’s heart.
Maybe you’ve done some sleuthing and discovered through a public records search that Mom’s boyfriend has a criminal past, or Dad’s girlfriend has a history of fast marriages and divorces. Or maybe you just have a bad gut feeling about your parent’s partner – like they’re too good to be true.
Older divorcees and widows can be more susceptible to bad relationships, online dating scams, or catfishing due to loneliness or desperation. You may see some red flags in your parent’s partner that they’re ignoring, simply because they want the relationship to work out. If this is the case, you owe it to your parent to share your concerns, especially if their safety could be at stake.
How To Tell Your Parent You Don’t Like Their Partner
When you broach the subject of your parent’s partner, you need to tread lightly and make it clear that you’re coming from a place of caring and concern.
Focus the conversation on facts and observations, rather than your own misgivings about their partner as a person. Bring up specific examples of “red flag” behavior that clearly demonstrates how the relationship could (or already has) hurt your parent and your family.
In a Psychology Today article, Susan Newman, Ph.D., recommends bringing up any objections privately and calmly with your parent, rather than making a scene in front of their partner. Don’t put your parent in a position to choose between you and their partner. If you truly don’t like the person, ask your parent if you can maintain a separate relationship with them, and spend time together without their boyfriend or girlfriend, said Newman.
Remember, your parent is an adult who has the right to make their own decisions and find a fulfilling relationship – just like you. Unless their partner is giving off signs of serious trouble or danger, try to be accepting and make an effort to get along. You don’t have to love them, but if you can at least be civil when you’re together, you can strengthen your relationship with both your parent and the person who makes them happy.