The Lalagirl Taking A Photo Of Friends With An Iphone

Dealing With Your Parents' Dating Lives

We all imagine the day our significant other comes to pick us up for our first date. They ring the doorbell, your dad answers and scares the sh*t out of the poor person. You walk out the door while your parents remind you to be home by eleven. 

No one ever tells you that the roles aren't set in stone, and it could be you sending your parents off on a date. There is really no way to be mentally prepared for this. Your parents are your parents. Whether they are together or not, as their children, it is hard to imagine them with anyone else at first. 

My parents split up when I was young, so I have very few memories of my mom and dad actually together. But when I met my dad’s girlfriend for the first time at age 14, I felt woefully unprepared. I was not sure how to behave or what to say. The only precedent for this type of situation that I had been exposed to was the evil girlfriend in the Parent Trap. 

The greatest advantage of being a child meeting your parent’s significant other is that the expectations for you are extremely low. I think my dad was expecting me to have a full on tantrum, and the fact that I did not was a success in his eyes. 

The most important thing to remember in a new and awkward situation like this is to be clear about your boundaries, and how involved you are comfortable being. You should never be blindsided by your parents dating life. Communication and honesty are fundamental. There are several times my dad would ask if we minded having his girlfriend with us at dinner, but we knew she had already been invited so to say no would have caused more drama, and it was extremely uncomfortable. Do not be afraid to say you just want to spend time with family. Your parents should respect this desire. 

Getting to witness your parents dating can be uncomfortable, but it can also be kind of nice. One of my dad’s girlfriends became a really present role in my life. She even drove me to my first real date. It got to the point that when I went to my dad’s house I was more excited to see her than my dad. Meeting new people and broadening your horizons, and even in unconventional ways, can be enjoyable. 

Even if you really do like your parent’s significant other, it is important not to get too attached. If or when the relationship ends, it can be painful for you, too. It is just another opportunity to feel and to grow. While being involved in your parent’s dating lives is strange, it can also be an opportunity for maturity and growth.