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Dealing with a Parent's New Relationship

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 9 Apr 2015 | comments*Discuss
Mother Father Mum Dad Relationship

Dealing with the new relationship of one of your parents can be very difficult. There are so many potential reasons for your mother or father starting a new relationship that it is impossible to discuss them all. What is possible, however, is to discuss the common ways that children feel when their parents embark on a new relationship and ways in which to make this time as pain free as possible.

Modern families are no longer about a husband, wife and two point four children. Modern families can be messy and difficult, with step-parents, step-grandparents, half siblings and ex-partners. We all have to play our part in our family to make it run as smoothly as possible. No one enters a relationship or starts a family hoping that it will fail – we all hope to make the best of our circumstances as keep people around us as happy as possible. This is not easy, but it is more likely if we are open, honest and aware of how our actions make other people feel.

Understand the Circumstances

Your mum or dad may have a new partner for all sorts of reasons, some of which may have had a more profound effect on you and need proper attention. If your mum or dad has been widowed, you will need to talk about how you feel about losing one of your parents, possibly at quite a young age. In order to accept your parent’s new relationship you will need to deal with your own feelings of grief.

If your parents have split up and now one of your parents has started a new relationship, it is important that you are not asked to take sides. Your parents will have their own issues to deal with, so do not allow yourself to be drawn into them. This is easier said than done, but a good way to start is to say that you are not prepared to take sides.

Try to Like Them

Even if you do not initially feel like you want to try to like your mum or dad’s new boyfriend or girlfriend, it is important to understand that it will make the situation a lot better for everyone if you make an effort. You do not have to be best friends with them straight away, but just make sure you do not say anything mean or make things difficult. You will be able to do this if you have been encouraged to talk about your feelings with someone – perhaps a relative or a teacher you trust.

Do They Make an Effort?

It can be hard to like your mum or dad’s new partner if you do not feel like they are making an effort to be friends with you. Conversely, if they are trying hard to build a relationship with you, why not try to be friendly back? The effort that they make to talk to you and understand your situation should be rewarded and you will find that you are able to make your own relationship with them, too.

Is Your Parent Happy?

The best way to deal with and accept your mum or dad’s new relationship is to look for the signs that say they are happy. Your parent will have dealt with the difficulties of their own situation – the loss of their spouse or the breakdown of their marriage – so their new found happiness is important. If you do not think your parent is happy in their new relationship, try to be supportive rather than judgemental to allow the relationship to run its natural course.

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