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QUESTION: I live with my 17-year-old daughter and son, 15, after my divorce. For the past eight months I’ve been seeing an old college friend. We’re getting serious and I’d like him to stay over, but the one time I mentioned this to my children, my daughter was outraged. I want to be sensitive - but surely it’s time for them to realise I have my own needs?
ANSWER: There are few sights so self-righteous as a teenager ticking off a parent. They are certain of the rights and wrongs of relationships, having had few - or none - themselves.
What all that judgmental certainty masks is neediness. As child-raising guru Penelope Leach recently pointed out in her book Children First, teenagers suffer much more than is recognised when parents separate. They are old enough to be aware of unhappiness but young enough to desperately want the undivided attention of their parents.
Also, bear in mind that teenage girls think they’re the ones who should be finding love and taking centre stage in the household’s dramas, while moms support from the wings.
If your daughter doesn’t have a boyfriend she will be even more resentful of your attachment to a new partner. The only course here is to proceed with tact. Your children are still in recovery. If this man is a keeper, you’ve got the rest of your lives to share a bed.
There’s no statute of limitations on adolescent hurt but your daughter will have bigger things to preoccupy her within a year. She’ll be at college or working.
In the meantime, gradually introduce your partner to domestic life. Get your children accustomed to him being there in the evenings.
If your man is kind to your daughter and interested in her opinions, I doubt she’ll be able to maintain much indignation. Then why not suggest he asks her if she’d consider letting him stay for one night?
Few children can resist adults who treat them as decision-makers and equals. - Daily Mail