My Kids Have Been Mean to Me Because of My New Boyfriend! [Ask Olivia]

Dear Olivia!

I am single mom with two teenage kids 15 and 17 respectively. I recently divorced and my husband kept the house and the kids live with him and stay with me during our visitation. I left this marriage with practically nothing and am starting over again at 48 years old.

I have a boyfriend and I told my kids that he and I are moving in together and they didn’t like the idea. They have been really mean to me and really mean to him. But on the flipside their father already has a new girlfriend that comes over, and they all sit down to eat and hang out with and they don’t seem to have a problem with that.

I don’t want to hurt my kids but at the same time I want to move on with my life. I think I deserve to have a life and to be happy especially after being in a shitty marriage for such a long time, but at the same time I don’t want to hurt my kids.

At a loss as to what to do.

Annemarie

Dear Annemarie,

First, thank you for your question and the bravery it took to ask it. I know matters of the heart especially involving the family can be really tough. It’s obvious you care very much about all parties involved and want the best for everyone while still being able to move on with your life. Not easy, I know, but definitely possible.

Without knowing all of the intricate details of your divorce, relationships, and family dynamics, I’m going to do the best I can to give you thought and ideas that may help. As a 48-year-old woman you don’t need anybody’s permission! But it always helps to have their blessings. Mostly I’m going to address the kids, their behavior and your reaction.

In your letter you said you were recently divorced. I don’t know if that means you’ve been separated for a while or if all of this is very new and anything under a year is definitely considered raw to new.

I have heard that It takes a month for every year you were with someone to get over them in a break up. Your husband and you were the ones that made this decision, and had more time to feel it through. Whereas the kids have to deal with whatever comes their way. So take into account the raw and hurt feelings the kids may have even though they may not be able to express them properly.

I would definitely talk to them, about their feelings, your feelings, and what’s important to you. I would also kindly remind them that you have feelings too, and to put themselves in your place. What would they do if they were in the same situation as you? Lay this out very calmly for them to see it clearly. Do not use any words of malice or anger. Because even in the best divorce there is always pain, and although you want to address that, you do not want to incite or exacerbate it.

Also let them know that by you moving on with your life, it will not exclude them, but will also make you a better person, and a better mom for them as time goes by.

If you find there is still a lot of hurt, or resentment, maybe counseling would be a good idea for them, and/or everyone involved.

Now, as to being mean and being disrespectful, that is absolutely unacceptable. It almost sounds as if that’s their way of bullying, or punishing you. I do know that kids are usually more difficult with their moms than their fathers, so I’m sure that’s a little of it. But the general rule is you treat others the way you want to be treated. If you are mean or disrespectful, then there is an issue that needs to be addressed. There also needs to be consequences if the behavior continues. At some point in life, we all have to put our big girl or boy pants on and do the right thing, even if we don’t like it. That’s what being an adult is, and both of your kids are close enough to adulthood to start to understand that. If they don’t, the outside world will be a rude awakening to them.

I wonder if your ex-husband can also help in this. I’m hoping you are at least friendly, and he may be able to help your kids see how biased they are being. If that is not the case, I would suggest sitting them down and having a heart to heart about it. Let them know your plans and your timeframe. Let them know that you want them to be a part of it, and move forward with your life. Throughout the process, let them know you wanna be a part of it and always keep your door of communication open. Let them decide if they wanna walk through that door or not.

If they do not in the beginning, which may be the case, keep it open and keep talking. But do not allow their meanness or disrespect to continue. If it does have your consequences ready so they know what will happen. That’s not a threat. That’s kind of like a code of conduct which is something we all get when we start a new job. All of the roles and your family have changed right now so this is a new role for everyone to figure out.

I wish you and your family a new life all the luck enjoy it deserves. It may take a little time. It will probably take a lot of patience, but I can tell by the wording of your letter and the compassion of your thoughts that you have it in you. I hope your kids and ex-husband do too!

All the best,
Olivia

Do you have a question? Ask Olivia for advice about anything: live, love, work, school, and she will give you her honest advice on her Ask Olivia column.

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About the Author

Olivia

Olivia

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