Grown Kids Messing with Her Love Life

Q: A decade after divorcing my husband, I'm finally dating again. The problem is my adult children are very judgmental of the new men in my life. It feels like my kids are forcing me to choose between them or a new chance at love. I've found myself reluctant to attend family gatherings because of their attitude. How do I juggle both? — Frances, 61

Dr. Susan: I always like to suggest that everyone assume good-will on the part of their loved ones. So let's begin by assuming that your adult kids have your best interests at heart and want to see you happy and not taken advantage of. They probably think they see your suitors more clearly than you do, and it's true that when you fall for someone, it's hard to see their faults. Problem is, you're a grown-up too, and you shouldn't let your kids dictate your behavior.

Don't accept that you have to make a choice between new love and old family. Tell your kids that their attitudes are making it unpleasant for you to get together with them. Reassure them that you aren't going to commit to anything foolhardy, that you love them, and that you need to make your own decisions. Be open to having a rational conversation with them about your plans, when the time is right, but you own your own future.

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