My kids don't approve of my younger partner

Nothing is more exhilarating than falling in love. It is especially sweet when love comes to you after the devastating pain of divorce or death. You started dating and to your delight now you’re in a serious relationship with a wonderful new partner. This new love in your life means you are so much happier. Now you’re talking of moving in together or even getting married. The downside is that your newfound happiness may not be viewed kindly by those closest to you. In fact, it can lead to major problems as old patterns of relationships are shaken to the core.

Also, given that baby boomer divorce rates have surged, increasing numbers of parents are likely to experience disapproval from their adult kids when Cupid’s arrows land. The main reason behind this is that while your new relationship is helping you heal from the pain of separation, your children see it as someone replacing the “space” that was meant for the other parent, and that they are not number one in your life anymore.

Dr. Carole Lieberman, a psychologist, says, “Children of all ages feel betrayed and abandoned when their parents divorce because their cozy nest is disrupted. This also upsets kids who are already out of the nest. They believe the message their parents are sending is that it is more important for them to have a life of their choosing than to remain in their prior, primary role of mom or dad.”

When you’re in a relationship, it may be important to you that your family gets along with your partner. And that makes total sense! It’s great when partners can be involved in multiple areas of our lives and build relationships with people we care about. But what if that’s not the case? What if your family members disapprove of your partner? What if their disapproval stems from the fact that the your partner is younger than you?

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A thread on Natter has discussed this topic, and has brought to light that it is still seen as culturally acceptable for an older man to be with a younger woman, but not for an older woman to be with a younger man.

“When I finally plucked up the courage to tell my mid-20s daughters that the younger man I’ve been seeing for the past year or so was now going to move in with me, it was as though a tornado blew through the room and wrecked everything in its wake,” says Gillian, 61.

Adam, her partner, is 20 years younger. Gillian is radiantly in love, but still distressed by the effect on her children.

“Deep down I guessed it might go like this, as things have always been rather tricky since their father died. But I didn’t expect the level of rage and bitterness. We haven’t resolved it yet. They seem to feel humiliated by the idea of his being so much younger, as though it’s shameful.”

If your children are so upset that they cannot cope with meeting your new partner, you can always arrange to spend special time with them on your own, explaining to them that while you still love them, you’re trying to live a life of your own too.

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