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Ask the Expert: My Daughter Doesn’t Like My Boyfriend.

Dear Your Teen:

Help. My daughter doesn’t like my boyfriend.

I have been divorced for eight years. My 16-year-old daughter has always told me I shouldn’t go back with her dad. She has encouraged me to find a new partner and get married. But now that I have met someone—a great guy who treats me well—my daughter doesn’t want us to move in with him and she doesn’t want me to marry him. My daughter thinks I can do better. I’m considering leaving him. Please help me. What should I do?

EXPERT | Barbara Greenberg, Ph.D.

Your daughter’s behavior must feel very confusing. Nonetheless, it is not surprising. Your daughter is used to not sharing you with a man and now things will change. She is probably afraid of what that change will mean for her. Perhaps she thinks that she will get a lot less of your attention. Dating with kids often brings these sorts of concerns.

I suggest that you sit down with your daughter and ask her calmly what her fears and anxieties are. Do a lot of listening and reassuring. Maybe she is afraid that you will not only be less available, but also that you might become a lot stricter. Let your daughter express all of her concerns. And then, reassure her that although things will be changing, you will always be her mother and attentive to her needs.

Then ask your daughter what she means when she says that she thinks you can do better. Is she saying this so that she can have you to herself or because she has a legitimate concern about this man. Hear her out.

I must caution you not to make a decision to let this man go simply to please your daughter.

This will ultimately not benefit anyone in this situation. Your daughter should not have the power to control your life. If you have picked a good man, your daughter will benefit from seeing you in a healthy relationship. Remember that you are her most important role model.

Dr. Barbara Greenberg

Dr. Barbara Greenberg is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of teens, children, and families. She is the co-author of Teenage as a Second Language. She writes and consults for several publications and frequently appears on TV. You can find her work on her website drbarbaragreenberg.com.