Q: I’m a single mom in my 40s and my daughter is 12. After my last relationship, 10 years ago (not with her father), I took a leave of absence from the dating world to concentrate on myself and being the best mother I could.
Fast-forward: When I attempt to talk to anyone of the opposite sex, my daughter has a fit. She has hidden my car keys and my phone, pouts if I go out and behaves like an all-out brat.
I have reassured her that I love her and always will. Also, I would never allow someone around her if I had any suspicion that he might not be good for her. Nothing works. I have spoken with only one person I would even think of introducing her to, but I am afraid of her attitude.
Abby, what’s the best way to enter into the dating world without hurting my child? I want to date, but my child won’t let me. — Entering the Dating World Again
A: Your daughter likes things just the way they are and views any disruption as a threat to her lifestyle. The best way to enter into the dating world would be to do it without consulting her. IF and when you meet someone and things become serious, introduce them then in a casual way. If she acts up, remember that YOU are the parent.
Your daughter doesn’t have to “love” someone because you do. She does, however, have to treat that person with the same respect with which you treat her friends, and you should insist upon it. You are the parent, and it’s up to you to enforce the rules for as long as she lives with you.
Q: My girlfriend and I are getting ready to move to a new city in six months (each of us for our own careers) and plan to move in together. Some issues still need to be ironed out before we make that commitment, and my biggest concern is the anger and resentment she carries toward her semi-estranged father.
I understand where it comes from and why, but it worries me to see how quickly and completely it can overwhelm her personality. I lack comparable experience, so I struggle to have constructive conversations with her about it. But I can’t accept this poisonous volatility as a feature of our life together. I believe that speaking to someone would help her deal with these feelings in a healthier, more constructive way, but she rejects that idea.
I don’t want to bully her into counseling, but I feel like I have to do something before we take this next step, for both our sakes. Would it be wrong to tell her she has to start seeing someone before I commit to moving in together? — Hesitating in Florida
A: No, it would not be wrong. If your girlfriend’s problems with her father bleed over into her relationship with you, and it appears they have, it would be a mistake for you to move in together because it won’t last.