Single parent dating is anything but stress-free. Not only is hard to find the time to date, but your kids are likely to have strong opinions about your choices, too. In fact, moms crying "Help! My kids hate my boyfriend!" isn't all that uncommon, but should it be a dating deal-breaker? Here's what to do if this happens to you:
When Your Kids Hate Your Boyfriend
This dating question is from a reader named Jane, who claims her child hates her boyfriend.
Here's what she had to say:
I am 33 years old, I and have two kids, ages 6 and 9. My 6-year-old adores the man I'm dating, but my 9-year-old son hates my boyfriend! This concerns me a great deal. We have been dating for almost three years, but the lack of warmth between them is an issue for my boyfriend, and it has become a big roadblock in our relationship. What should I do?
How you respond when your child hates your boyfriend is important because it speaks to the issue of balancing your needs against your kids' needs. Let's explore the issue in more depth.
Where to Start
My first question for you is this: Do you have a problem with your child's behavior? I'm also wondering whether your boyfriend is referring to your son's reluctance to connect and build a relationship with him, or whether there is some other behavioral issue that concerns him.
If you do have a problem with your child's behavior, I would advise you to start there.
Deal with that before making any other decisions. You may find, too, that you need to cut back on your time away from the kids while addressing the behavioral concerns that you have.
Determine the Real Issue
A lot of people would tell you that if your child hates your boyfriend, you should automatically end the relationship.
However, a 9-year-old is savvy enough to know that a parent's dating relationship may take time and attention away from him, and the quickest way to rebel against that is to reject the person you're dating. Therefore, it's important to determine whether your son 'hates' your boyfriend for a good reason that you don't yet recognize, or whether your son needs to realize that while he and his brother are your top priority, they don't rule every decision you make.
To make sure that your son's reluctance is not based on a good reason not to like your boyfriend, I would recommend asking a couple of close friends or family members whether they have any concerns. If they do, then you need to pay close attention to whether this is really the right relationship for you.
Talk it Over With Your Son
However, if you think your son hates your boyfriend in an effort to initiate a power struggle, I would recommend that you carve out some one-on-one time with your son to discuss the relationship. If you envision yourself remarrying at some point, let your son know that is a desire you have. If it's appropriate, you can also let your son know that you, too, are disappointed that your relationship with his father cannot be salvaged, and in light of that, you're ready to move on.
Go ahead and share with him some of the criteria you look for in a man, and let him know how your boyfriend meets those criteria. For example, "I'm really looking for someone who treats me with respect and is caring and considerate." Then, share a story or two about a time when your boyfriend revealed those qualities to you.
Conclude the conversation by telling your son that you love him unconditionally and hope that he will support you in your happiness. In addition, ask him whether there is anything you can do to make the transition easier for him.
Once you've had that conversation, I would suggest creating some opportunities for your son and your boyfriend to get to know one another better in a way that is non-threatening. For example, try to get out of the house and do something fun together, and see how the opportunity to be playful together impacts their relationship.
Address Any Concerns You Have With Your Boyfriend, Too
At the same time, if you feel your boyfriend is being too hard on your son or has unrealistic expectations, you need to talk with him about these feelings. Taking things to the next level without resolving such an important issue would only be an invitation for more discord between your son and your boyfriend.
Finally, make an effort to be extra sensitive to your son while working through these concerns. Coping with divorce can be hard enough on kids, even without adding dating to the mix. And it could be that your son hates your boyfriend out of a sense of being displaced or left out. Any effort you can invest toward resolving those feelings will go a long way toward achieving the sense of harmony you're looking for.