When divorced parents start dating again
(This is especially likely if the parent is divorced, not widowed.
The adult child might have been telling himself that his parents would get back together eventually.) In these cases, the adult child is looking backward and grieving the loss of the old relationship just as the parent is looking forward in excitement to a new one.
Parents often have unrealistic expectations that their new partners will instantly become part of a happy family unit.
That almost certainly will take time (if it happens at all).
Share the news that you are dating again—or that you are in a relationship—in a calm, private moment.
Present this news in a straightforward manner, such as, “I wanted you to know that I’m dating again.” Or “I wanted you to know that I’m seeing someone.” And then let the adult child process what you’ve said and ask questions.
If the parent settles into a new long-term relationship, that might force the adult child to finally confront the difficult fact that the family unit of his/her youth is gone forever.
When a parent dates, these roles are flipped, forcing unfamiliar and difficult-to-navigate dynamics for all.
Telling your adult child to “grow up” or asking, “Don’t you want me to be happy?
” only increases the odds that the parent-child relationship will suffer.
Do not phrase this in a way that demands happiness from the adult child, such as, “Isn’t it wonderful—I’m dating!
” Do not find fault with your adult child’s reaction to your return to dating or a new relationship even if that reaction is negative.