Ask Grandma Maggie

Parenting & Childcare Advice
Peggy Moss (1933-2014), also known as Grandma Maggie, penned a parenting column on this site for many years. Back by popular demand, we are republishing the column, sharing with you the best of Grandma Maggie’s parenting and childcare advice.
Unfortunately Grandma Maggie is no longer able to take questions.

My kids not accepting my new boyfriend.

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Dear Grandma,

I have been divorced for 4 years, and have a 14 year old daughter and a 19 year old son. I recently began dating a nice man – my first date after divorce – and my daughter is not taking this well at all. Yesterday, I told her that he was girl-1137946_640coming to visit us (he currently lives in New Mexico, but will be here this weekend to find a place in Denver), and she just burst into tears (not the first time) and left to go for a walk at night. My son followed her and then I did. She finally went home with her brother after staying in the cold for almost 1 hour. She is angry at me, saying I have never asked her about anything, and that she will hate me for the rest of her life if I continue this relationship, that she will be rude to him, etc., etc. She was very upset this morning, crying, and did not want to go to school.

He will be in town for the rest of the week. I am torn, not knowing what to do. Any advice? Thank you so much in advance for any wise words you can give me!

Lourdes

Dear Lourdes,

My first advice would be to put him up at a motel or hotel and not have him stay at your house.

Kids about 14 often have a fantasy that their parents will get back together, so your daughter is probably facing the fact that this ‘dream’ has ended if you are involved with a man other than her father.

My advice is that you sit your daughter and son down and tell them this is a friend of yours and your expectations would be that they treat him politely, the way they would want a friend of theirs treated by you when they are a guest in your home. They don’t have to like this man, but they don’t hang him out to dry before they even meet him. I think you can expect them to spend at least the equivalent of one meal with him and be nice. If you can say it and mean it, then tell them you will never make any move so quickly that they need to be rude to a friend of yours.

I have to say it’s important to take it slowly and also not lie to them about your life and where this is all going. That is how you will build up trust with the children.

I want to add that I would not be involved with someone in a serious relationship if my kids didn’t like him, but I also would expect them to be fair and behave well in his presence before they made a decision on how they feel. That would be so unfair, a word your daughter might understand.

Kindest regards,
Grandma Maggie