H4HK FAQs: What Should I Do If I Don’t Like My Parent’s New Boyfriend / Girlfriend?

Parent's New Boyfriend / Girlfriend

H4HK FAQs are designed to answer questions kids and teens ask when facing difficult situations and circumstances in their lives.

Many children of single parents end up in a situation where their parents start dating again and they don’t like the new boyfriend or girlfriend.  If there is a reason not to like them – like they make you feel uncomfortable or are physically or emotionally abusive, you need to tell someone about it.  However, if you just don’t like them and you don’t know exactly why, there are some things you should keep in mind to help you adjust to your parent’s new love interest and keep from damaging your own relationship with your parent:

  1. Remember, your parent’s boyfriend/girlfriend is not your new parent.  They shouldn’t act like they are, and you shouldn’t expect them to fill that role.
  2. Talk to your mom or dad about it, but make sure you do it in a respectful way. Explain that you don’t like the idea of them dating.  If it hasn’t been long since the divorce, explain that you need time to adjust to the divorce. Explain that you are trying, but that they need to understand that this hurts you. Don’t give ultimatums and don’t place blame. Just share your feelings.
  3. Remember that you don’t have to like the person your parent dates. Unless that person makes you feel unsafe for some reason, you don’t have to like them. Don’t try to force yourself to feel a certain way, you can’t.
  4. Try to start over. If there isn’t a reason not to like the new person in your parent’s life, go back and “redo.” Start over remembering that you are just working on forming a new friendship regardless of what your parent feels about this parent. Engage in idle chit-chat. Find things that you both like and talk about them (even it’s ice cream).  Without the pressure on either of you, you might find it easier to start a relationship and even form a friendship with this person if you just start over.
  5. Guard your heart. Your parent might be in love, but that doesn’t mean this relationship will last. If you do put some effort into it and end up liking this person, guard your heart a little bit to avoid being overly vulnerable in the event the relationship ends.
  6. Work on your relationship with your parent. Just because the two of you disagree doesn’t have to destroy the relationship. Find some common ground or work together to set up some ground rules that you both can live with.

You might also find something useful in the following previous questions answered here on I Am A Child of Divorce:

Find answers to other frequently asked questions on our H4HK FAQs Page. For more resources and information on divorce, family disruption and modern families please visit our Hope 4 Hurting Kids Divorce and Modern Family Help Center.

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Written by Wayne Stocks
Wayne is the founder and executive director of Hope 4 Hurting Kids. He is a happily married father of four kids with a passion for helping young people who are going through rough times. In addition to Hope 4 Hurting Kids, Wayne previously started I Am A Child of Divorce and Divorce Ministry 4 Kids to help kids who are dealing with the disruption of their parents' relationship. These are now part of Hope 4 Hurting Kids. Wayne speaks frequently at conferences and churches on issues related to helping kids learn to deal with difficult emotions and life in modern families. Wayne lives with his wife, three youngest kids, three dogs and an insane collection of his kids' other pets outside of Columbus, Ohio. In addition to his work with Hope 4 Hurting Kids, Wayne is a partner in a local consulting firm, an avid reader, coaches his son's soccer team and is a proud supporter of Leicester City Football Club (and yes, for those in know, his affinity for the club does predate the 2016 championship). You can reach Wayne at wayne@hope4hurtingkids.com.