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When Your Parent Starts Dating

Advice for teens on how to handle their parent's new relationship.

Occasionally I get questions from teens trying to figure out life's complications. I like to share some of these inquiries with you so you too can see the dilemmas that many teens are faced with. Below you will find a single parent situation in which mom has just recently started dating. The teen is beginning to feel like she's in second place and doesn't know what to do. See the situation and advice that follows.

Dear Ms. L—

My mom has a new boyfriend and I feel like he’s always around. I feel like I never see her anymore and she always wants to spend time with him. What about me? I know she’s really happy, but I want to spend more alone time with her. What do I do? Help!

Dear Reader,

This sounds like a complicated situation, because on one hand you want your mom to be happy, but on the other hand you miss the time you used to share with her. So, you need to tell her.

Here are five tips to help you open the door to communication with your mom:

1. Find a time when it's just the two of you.

2. Pick the moment. Of course you don't want to do it when she's running late for work nor do you want to tell her when she's leaving for a date.

3. Check your emotions. Sometimes when we are hurt or angry we pick the most inopportune time to communicate it. So when you do have the chat with your mom, pick a time when you're not emotionally upset with her.

4. Choose your words wisely. Speak clearly about how you feel. Pay special attention not to accuse your mom of giving all of her time to the new boyfriend or the new boyfriend for stealing her time away from you. Remember the goal is for your mom to listen and spend more time with you, not tick everyone off in the process. Here is an example of how to break the news:

"Mom, I have been missing you a lot lately. I'm glad that you are dating and are happy, but I miss the time that we used to spend together. I feel lonely and jealous because I want some of your time too. Can we do something to make sure that we still have 'our' time?"

5. If you can't speak it, write it. Sometimes talking is hard, especially in this situation because you are caught in between your feelings and your mom's feelings. So if you don't feel like you are going to be able to say what you feel, write it in a letter or a card. Give your letter to your mom and then talk about it after she reads it.

It is important to talk to your mom and to let her know how you feel. Don't hold it in or it will bottle up and fester. When you hold things in they eventually find a way of coming out and make a bigger mess! It's easier to deal with something than stuff it away and deal with it later. Plus, what a compliment for your mom to know that you wants to spend more time with her!

If you are a single parent and beginning the dating scene, be sure to keep an open line of communication with your teen. Also pay special attention to the time that you spend with him or her. To avoid feeling as though they've been given the shaft, you may need to spend more time with your teen during this change.