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Children don’t want mom’s boyfriend at family events |
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Children don’t want mom’s boyfriend at family events

| Wednesday, December 12, 2018 1:33 a.m

Dear Carolyn:

I have been divorced 14 years and have two adult children. Recently my children informed me they do not like the man I have been dating for several years and do not want him at family events. Why they do not like him: He is the complete opposite of their father. Also, he is an attorney, so it goes without saying that he is opinionated.

He is willing to listen and does not argue incessantly, but does offer an opinion when one is not asked. I have explained to him that if a person is not seeking his opinion, do not offer one. This is especially a problem with offering parenting opinions to my daughter and son-in-law. It drives them crazy, especially since my boyfriend has no children.

My daughter finally became infuriated after he again told her how to parent, and they had a huge blowout. She wants nothing to do with him. His reaction was no better and he let me know he does not care for either of my children. This makes me sick to my stomach.

I love this man and we have so much fun together, seldom argue, and he treats me so good. My gut tells me to end this relationship because there is nothing more important than my children.

Should I, or am I not thinking rationally?

— N.

Well this is awkward.

You love him and you have “so much fun together” and your kids are, presumably, out of your day-to-day life. Really this shouldn’t even be a question.

But as the disinterested third party you brought in, I feel obligated to point out that your boyfriend’s behavior, as you describe it, is that of an utter, presumptuous jerk.

Argumentative? Smug? Boundary-challenged? Openly disrespectful of your guidance not to hector your kids? Check-check-check-check.

You say, “his reaction was no better,” as if your daughter’s fury and finality were wrong. But if visiting family meant I had someone repeatedly in my face, through roadblocks!, about the single most intimate and challenging and emotionally consuming part of my life — even someone who was an expert, but especially a spectator — then my lid would be at critical risk of flipping.

And let’s take a moment to gawk at your “goes without saying” remark about lawyers. My kindest, most open-minded friend — a walking hug of a person (hi N.!) — is a litigator. The most humane and evolved (hi, M.!)? Also a lawyer. So recognize your comment as the weak excuse it is for your boyfriend’s arrogant certainties, and note that explaining and rationalizing are how partners of rude people spend a sad chunk of their time.

Maybe he is lovely to you, of course, while being unlovely to others. Maybe you see a side of him others don’t; maybe too, he’s shrewd enough to take precautions against total isolation and summon his best for you.

Either way, you have two tough assignments. First: Move past the “what” of the opposing views of this man, and get to the “why.” Are you missing something? Are they? Is he?

Second: Figure out whether that matters. You can invest in him, invest in your kids, or choose both and keep them apart. It’s your life. See the whole truth of it — then find the courage to live it.

Email Carolyn at, follow her on Facebook at or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at

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