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Blended Families:
“My daughter is against the idea of my remarriage.”

Dear Annie,

I need some advice on helping my 12 year old daughter understand and accept a relationship. I have been divorced for 10 years and during that time have focused on creating a wonderful supportive environment for my daughter and myself. I have dated but it was always a secondary pursuit...(child first, etc.) Recently, I have reunited with a former "boyfriend" and it looks like wedding bells may be heard in our future.

My daughter is critically opposed to the idea of me dating much less the idea of me getting married. Her fears are that our relationship will change and she will not be important anymore. We have had some very heartfelt teary conversations, and I know that a lot of her fears stem from her Dad's remarriage and how that changed their relationship for the worse. Intellectually, I know she is scared that the same thing is going to happen.

I just want to know how I can reach her? If I were to tell current man "see ya", it would still not directly face her fears of parental rejection when/if there is a next time. What are your suggestions?

Wedding Bells

Dear Wedding Bells,

It sounds like you've done a wonderful job parenting your daughter and making her safety and emotional security your top priority. I admire and respect you tremendously and I'm sure she will continue to reap the benefits of your care and compassion.

As for what to do about this serious romantic relationship you've recently had the good fortune of finding... While I absolutely believe that your daughter's feelings need to be heard and respectfully acknowledged, I don't necessarily think that you should be held hostage by her demands. You say that she is "critically opposed" to the idea of your dating. Based on her experience with her dad's remarriage, this is understandable. But she needs to know that you are not the same person as her dad. That you have never wavered in your commitment to her. She's old enough to understand that change is not necessarily a bad thing.

My suggestion is for you to take it slowly with her. You can talk and reassure her all you like but the truth comes down to this: her fears will only be calmed and her attitude changed when she experiences the inclusion of your beau into this tight circle that you and your daughter have created. If you can slowly, and in small doses, include him in some of your family time (no overnights) then she can experience the two of you together. She can also have a first hand experience of whether your relationship with her changes (for the worse) as a result of his being in the picture.

In her territorial reaction and her fear of change the one thing that she probably has not considered is the real chance that she could WIN big time if you did remarry. Not only would she continue to have you (my guess is that the positive impact of a happy marriage would make you even more giving and loving to your daughter... Love does that, it expands the heart in all directions) and, to top it off, she could get a wonderful step-dad in her life at a crucial time in her development. I'm assuming that the guy in question is a wonderful man who, in his love for you, would embrace your daughter and the opportunity to be an essential part of her life.

How's that sound?

In friendship,

Annie

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