Teen Talk: Teen needs to sit down with mom, who's got a new boyfriend

01/31/2012 12:00 AM

01/31/2012 2:31 PM

DEAR KELLY: My mom is dating for the first time in six years. The last time, the relationship became serious and ended badly. It was a really difficult time for me, which my mom doesn't understand because she thinks I was too young to be affected by it (I was 9).

I have never lived with my dad, but I do see him, and I'm scared that this new guy will try to cut me off from my dad or replace him like the last one did.

Even worse, my mom is spending more time with the new guy than me and my 7-year-old brother, and forcing us to spend time with him.

My brother doesn't mind, but I have tried to tell her I don't want to go. She takes away my phone and the computer, won't let me go to dance practice or see anyone outside of school.

I'm really miserable, I cry all the time, and can't eat or sleep. I've tried going to see my dad when the new guy is around, but mom still makes me see him.

How can I get out of seeing mom's boyfriend without being punished?

– Scared Of Losing Dad

DEAR SCARED: Why do you feel you have to choose between your mom's boyfriend and your father?

They are different people and should have different roles in your life.

You should never have to feel afraid of losing your dad. Whether you live with him or not, he holds a very special role in your life, and your relationship with him is sacred.

He can't be replaced, and no one should attempt to take his place.

There seems to be a huge communication gap between you and your mom. You don't want to get to know her new boyfriend, and she feels the need to force the relationship.

Why does she insist you spend time with her new boyfriend? Would it make her feel better if you liked him? Is she trying to create a "family feeling" in her or your life? Does she think your dad is not a good influence on you? Is she angry with him?

Whatever the reason, you need to work on this before it splinters your relationship with your mom to the point of doing serious damage. She seems to have blinders on to your feelings with regard to her boyfriend. Likewise, you don't understand why this is so important to her and why she is pushing so hard for you to accept him.

Unless you can articulate your feelings in a way that she can understand, my guess is she will continue to force her new boyfriend into your life.

Taking away positive things in your life such as dance practice does nothing to improve communications or resolve the issue. Her attempt to bring you closer to the family is only pushing you farther apart.

Have you sat down with your mom and explained your feelings, or do you just fight, yell and cry when you talk with her? Have you approached her maturely and respectfully, or made her feel guilty for having a boyfriend? Have you shared with her what the last experience was like with her old boyfriend and how it affected you?

Until you can process what happened then, it will make what is happening now even harder to work through.

Your mom should be allowed to date. But she should not force her boyfriend into your life. If you aren't ready to spend time with him, it shouldn't be required. This creates tension and animosity.

Who knows? Maybe your mom's new boyfriend is a good guy with good intentions. Forcing you to get to know him, though, is not the way to introduce him into your life.

Ask your mom if you can go speak with a family counselor. Perhaps she has an Employee Assistant Program (called an EAP) with her work that gives a few free or reduced-cost sessions.

If she doesn't have that and can't afford family counseling, go speak with your school counselor and get the name of a low-fee counseling place near you.

Or if you go to a church, maybe ask to speak with the pastor or youth director.

Tell your mom that this is really important and she needs to understand how serious this is. You are depressed because the stress of the situation is taking an emotional toll on you. You need a middle person as soon as possible to help navigate this before the situation explodes.

Slow down long enough to talk with your mom and listen to how she feels as well. The two of you need to hear each other and respect how the other feels. Watching your mom become involved with a man can be hard emotionally. It can create many confusing emotions.

Get a professional to help you and your family navigate the journey ahead.

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