Divorced woman fears daughter’s reaction to new boyfriend

  • Thursday, November 21, 2019 1:30am
  • Life

Q: I have been divorced three times. There were extenuating circumstances with each one, from infidelity to simply not caring for my child, but the truth remains, I have been divorced three times. My oldest daughter, who is now well into her 30s, saw it all and makes it very difficult for me to date. She dislikes everyone for some reason and with the Holidays coming up, I feel like I’m juggling family members. I’m in my 60s, and I’d like to invite my “boyfriend” to Thanksgiving, but I’m sure my daughter will make a scene. What’s good ex-etiquette?

A: It’s time for your daughter to grow up. I understand that both kids and parents may not like each other’s choices in partners, but ultimately, it’s not their choice. Making it difficult to interact with a parent or child’s new partner puts family members in the position of having to choose — or dread interaction. Both make the holidays unbearable.

Good ex-etiquette dictates if you want to be around a family member for Thanksgiving, but you hate his or her partner, you don’t badmouth (ex-etiquette rule No. 3), you are not spiteful or hold grudges (ex-etiquette rules 5 and 6), you use empathy in your interactions (ex-etiquette rule No. 7), you are honest (Ex-etiquette rule No. 8), you respect the host or hostess (rule No. 9), and you look for the compromise (ex-etiquette rule No. 10). No where does it say you should be self-righteous, resentf, rude, judgmental, or give someone a hard time just because you don’t approve of their presence. If you want to be around the family member, rejoice in their company. Treating their choice of partner rudely accomplishes nothing and makes what little time you have with the beloved family member uncomfortable. The mature approach is to figure out the best way to utilize your time with the family member, not let your animosity for a partner choice interfere with celebration.

What if there is a legitimate reason behind the complaint? The choice of partner uses foul language or has a drinking or drug problem and acts inappropriately around the children in attendance? In that case, a heart-to-heart with the family member prior to the visit in the name of the children who will be present would be appropriate, but not because you just plain don’t like their choice. “I understand you will most likely want to bring Louise, but please ask her to monitor her drinking. It makes us all very uncomfortable if she gets drunk — particularly around the kids.”

Then, if the behavior continues, said partner is not respecting the host or hostess’ home (ex-etiquette rule No. 9). That is a basis on which to ask the family member to leave their choice at home.

What if, as in your case, a guest (your daughter) is acting disrespectfully to another guest in your home? If this behavior is based purely on whim, not on the new partner’s poor behavior, then your daughter would be the one who would be acting disrespectfully. Make your boundaries clear or the behavior will continue.

Often, when parents take a stand, the child feels as if the parent is choosing their partner over them, when that is not the case. The parent is choosing good behavior, period. And, that’s good ex-etiquette.

— Tribune Content Agency

Talk to us

More in Life

Rich Davis works on finishing the deck of his home in Mukilteo on June 11. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Mukilteo man’s pandemic project: A 500-square-foot deck

Rich Davis had never built anything before, but the shutdown left him with ample time to learn a new skill.

It only takes a small amount of cash to build a homemade swamp cooler to make your home comfortable this summer. (Jennifer Bardsley)
Can a do-it-yourself swamp cooler beat the August heat?

Instead of spending $400 for an air conditioner, purchase $25 of simple parts and assemble one yourself.

Oslo’s City Hall, with stirring murals and art that depict Norway’s history. (Rick Steves, Rick Steves’ Europe)
Rick Steves on Oslo, the polar opposite of ‘Big Box’ culture

The Norwegian capital city is expensive, but its charm and civility are priceless.

Also known as Rose of Sharon, hibiscus is a hardy shrub is one of the few that blooms in the late summer. (Nicole Phillips)
Hibiscus will bring a tropical look to your August garden

Also known as Rose of Sharon, the hardy shrub is one of the few that blooms in the late summer.

Dave Dodge stands on a speaker while playing his guitar during Nite Wave’s show at Tony V’s Garage on Saturday, June 8, 2019 in Everett, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Curtain falls on Tony V’s in Everett — at least for now

The nightspot was hit hard by the coronavirus epidemic. It might reopen when the county hits Phase 4 of the state reopening plan.

Lennon Wiltbank’s art adorns an abandoned, soon-to-be-demolished home and spreads joy in her neighborhood.
For this Bothell artist, ‘happiness is flowers’

Lennon Wiltbank’s art adorns an abandoned, soon-to-be-demolished home and spreads joy in her neighborhood.

Glacier Lanes won’t be spared: Owners decide to close forever

Bowlers statewide are rallying to open venues shut by COVID rules, but this Everett business isn’t waiting.

Practice the art of doing nothing to nurture inner peace

It’s the ability to sit, listen to the sounds of nature, look at nothing in particular, and just be.

The Sauk River rushes by near a popular boat launch area close to White Chuck Mountain off the Mountain Loop Highway, just outside of Darrington. (Daniella Beccaria / Herald file)
Outdoors classes and activities around Snohomish County

Some of the events listed here are contingent on whether each jurisdiction… Continue reading

Most Read