Many of the parents of my friends have hit the senior dating circuit of late, either do to death or divorce. In most instances, this means the children are grown and flown, and are not really a part of their parents everyday lives. You would think that this makes relationships easier- let’s face it- your adult children shouldn’t have anything to say about your new relationship- should they?
When I think to my friends and acquaintances, none of them are taking too keenly to their parents new “friends”. In fact, I’d say they are quite vocal about their displeasure.
One of my friends had parents who divorced after about forty years of marriage. The father began dating within a few months. (you know what they say- after 65 if you can drive at night and have your own teeth and are male, you’re a catch) The mother did not find a partner that quickly. The kids were totally annoyed with their father and refused to meet the new girlfriend. To be clear, this wasn’t someone he’d had a affair with- he met her after he’d moved out of the house. The kids didn’t like her because they chose to “side” with their mother, because they didn’t want to see her hurt. It didn’t help that the mother would call them up hysterical and tell them to never speak to their father again….
Many of the people I know have a problem with their parents mates for the most basic reason of all: money. This is especially true in the case of the widowed. They’re worried that their parents are going to leave the estate to their new partner, or spend it before it can be even left. Some kids have factored in their parents wealth into their own long term plans. If new partner A spends a hundred thousand redecorating the parents house, how much is left for me? While you can make a case that the child is trying to protect the parent from a gold digger, is it always the case? Should you be counting your parents chickens before they hatch?
I know of one scenario where the man must leave his house when his girlfriend”s son comes over. The son does not approve of the boyfriend and refuses to be in the same room as him, and this extends to more than just Sunday lunches: the man does not spend any holidays with his girlfriend because of the dynamic between son and boyfriend.
Of course, some kids simply do not wish to see their parent “replaced”. I understand this- your father had a certain chair at the table- you don’t want to see anyone else occupy it. Your mother made the apple pie at Thanksgiving- you don’t like the idea of someone else having that responsibility. But it is fair to your surviving parent?
We all grew up worrying about what our parents would think of our mates/partners/spouses. Sometimes we listened to their gut feelings that something just wasn’t right. But the tables have turned. Do we, as grown children, have the right to interfere with our adult parents and their choice of new mate? Does our opinion matter?