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Ask a Therapist: Can I start dating, even if my child does not want me to?

Posted at 1:10 PM, Oct 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-27 15:10:10-04

Question: How do you talk to your only grown child that you are interested in someone. You are now over 60 and have been alone 16 years. Your child puts her foot down and says no stay single enjoy senior centers. I am interested in this gentleman so there is a controversy. Is there a reason I should listen and stay single the rest of my life?

Consider where your child may be coming from

It is important to consider where your child may be coming from. Sometimes the thought of a parent moving on can be emotionally difficult for several reasons. She may be feeling worried about you getting hurt in this new relationship, particularly if your previous relationship ended in divorce or ended badly. Another possibility may be that she is struggling because she is feeling that if you move on to another relationship, you will be betraying the memory of her other parent if you were widowed. There also may be a completely different reason. Have a conversation about what the concern is really about and try to validate the feelings your daughter is having, whether or not you agree with what she says.

Take care of yourself

That being said, there is no reason you should stay single the rest of your life. You are an adult and if you are interested in someone, you should explore and work towards having a fulfilling relationship if that is what you desire. It’s important that you find happiness and meaning in life.

Practice detached compassion

Your child may need to work through her feelings about this so allow her that room and don’t take on her emotions. Practice detached compassion, meaning you show you care about what she’s dealing with but you acknowledge it is her issue to work through and not something you can fix for her.

Set your boundaries

You may need to remind your adult child that you are also an adult who can make her own decisions. You can state that although you appreciate her concern, you would like to explore this relationship and hope that she can be supportive. If she can’t, agree to disagree and decide what the parameters should be in terms of whether you discuss your relationship with her or choose to keep it private.

Therapist Anastasia Pollock answers viewers questions each month on the show. Please email questions to Submissions will be kept anonymous. To contact Anastasia go here.