So, you are attracted to a guy who is twice your age. Perhaps he’s a widower and his children are as old as you. Or, maybe he's been divorced for as long as you've been alive. Either way, the age difference seems to be irrelevant. He brings something to your life that men your age haven't been able to do. However, you suspect that the problems will come when you step outside your cocoon of love. What will happen when you meet his children?
Time Doesn’t Heal All Wounds
Although your new man may be thrilled to have you in his life, his children probably aren’t. Deborah Carr and Kathrin Boerner report in the “Journal of Aging Studies” that an older man’s children are often resentful of him dating after the death of their mother. Especially daughters. You are an easy target because you just entered the scene. So being on the receiving end of rolled eyes and snide remarks is common. His children may be downright nasty toward you.
Witnessing a Train Wreck
You may find that your relationship compromises his relationship with his children. This is a double whammy if he didn’t have a good relationship with them to begin with, as Carr and Boerner outline. Even if their mother is alive and he divorced her, his relationships with his adult children may be strained, reports Teresa Cooney and Peter Uhlenberg in their article, “Role of Divorce in Men’s Relations with Their Adult Children after Mid-life.” As a way of displaying their anger toward him, they may stop communicating with him, stop bringing his grandchildren around, and make him feel guilty for moving on.
The way your man allows his adult children to treat you now sheds light on how it will always be. If his children are rude to you and he is completely oblivious, know that you are on your own. He may always tolerate this kind of behavior from them. It could be that he feels guilty about moving on from their mother. Or it could be that he never upheld firm boundaries with them. On the other hand, if he doesn’t allow them to disrespect you, he may be a keeper. He can step up in the face of difficulties and do what’s best for all of the people with whom he loves. A good sign indeed.
His children may not ever agree with his decision to date you. But this doesn’t mean that they will always dislike you. Try to encourage your man to rebuild his relationships with his children if it has been bruised because he’s been dating you. Suggest he try new things, such as going on a vacation alone with his daughter. Especially since he is less likely to spend time with her anyway because of the divorce, reports Cooney and Uhlenberg. He’ll get a chance to reconnect with her and talk to her about you. His daughter will likely suspect that you put him up to it and will appreciate your efforts.
Nina Edwards holds a doctorate in clinical psychology and has been writing about families and relationships since 2000. She has numerous publications in scholarly journals and often writes for relationship websites as well. Edwards is a university lecturer and practicing psychologist in New York City.
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