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MomTalk.com October 16, 2018:   The women's magazine for moms about children, family, health, home, fashion, careers, marriage & more


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What Happens When Mom Dates?: Good Enough Moms

Q: I'm a divorced woman in my late 40s and I have recently gotten into a pretty serious relationship with a man I met through a dating service. It's the first time I've dated since before I got married in my early 20s and I'm having a wonderful time. The problem is that my two daughters (ages 16 and 21) are very upset that I'm dating this man and keep warning me that he's going to take advantage of me. In some heated moments, they've become so upset about this that they have said I need to choose between this man and them! The girls are very close to my ex-husband, so I suspect he may be behind this. I've tried hard not be too controlling of my daughters' lives (especially since my eldest went to college) and I don't think it's their place to control mine. How can I respond to this situation without creating tension in my relationship with my daughters?


Erin: Wow, this is a tough one! I can understand your girls' concern, especially since this is the first time you've dated. They are probably a little angry that they're no longer getting all of your attention too. However, it's really not their choice whether you date or who you date. As long as this man is respectful toward them and you, I think you have every right to date him. I would simply let your children know that you love them, but that you are really ready to be in a relationship and you are enjoying spending time with this man. You also should state clearly your expectation that they are respectful toward him just as he is respectful toward them.


Marti: I agree with Erin's advice. But I would add to it that, especially if your ex-husband has not remarried, your daughters possibly still held out hope that you and he would get back together. (That's a common fantasy of children of any age whose parents divorce.) So your dating may represent the end of that hope. Also, depending on the circumstances of your divorce and whatever experiences your daughters have had with men, your girls may have a jaded view of romantic relationships and may just be understandably protective of you. (Of course there always is a possibility that they are picking up something about this man that really ought to be cause for concern!) Whatever the situation, it's not fair for them to suggest you have to choose between him and them. I suggest you acknowledge that this is hard for them, assure them that you always will love them and be there for them, and remind them that, as an adult, you need to make your own decisions about your private life – just as they do (or will as they move into adulthood).


Grandma Betty: Divorce and parents' dating can be hard on kids of all ages. Marti and Erin have made some good suggestions and I hope those ideas will help you keep a good relationship going with your daughters.

Marti Erickson, Ph.D., is a developmental psychologist and director of the Harris Training Programs at the University of Minnesota. A well-known public speaker, writer, and media commentator, Marti also is the mother of two adult kids and three young grandchildren.


Erin Erickson Garner, Marti's daughter, is a writer and a specialist in maternal and child health. She currently is home with her two young children except for Sundays, when she and her mom co-host the Good Enough MomsTM radio show on WFMP-Radio, FM107.1 in the Minneapolis/St. Paul.


Betty Farrell, Marti's mom, lives in Houston, TX, and is known fondly as "Grandma Betty" to Erin and her kids.



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