ALEXANDRA BRECKENRIDGE The Bridgeport, Connecticut native is best known for emotional, addicting hit series–Netflix’s Virgin River and NBC’s This is Us; has voiced nine seasons of Family Guy; and appeared in fan favorites American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, and True Blood. The mom of two answers our reader’s question about the struggles of dating as a single parent.
My girlfriend is uncomfortable around my 13-year-old son (from my ex). She’s always sweet with him, but he resents her because his mom tends to talk bad about her, and she can sense it. So she doesn’t like to come over or stay the night when he’s here. I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place – A.J.
That must feel like a really hard position to be in. I imagine talking to your ex about it might be tricky, given she’s speaking badly about your girlfriend to your teenage son. That says to me she’s not in a mature space.
If she is in a place to receive communication about this topic, I highly recommend it. Approach the conversation in a way that’s not an attack, so she’s not automatically on the defensive, but to let her know you want your son to feel more comfortable.
Your son is 13 and that, in and of itself, serves as a great period of adjustment for him. His body is changing as he moves from childhood to teenager. Hormones kick into high gear, and he may become naturally displaced as he simply navigates being a teenage boy.
Given he is a child of divorce also puts him in an added emotionally vulnerable state, whether or not he knows it.
He’s still a child for all intents and purposes. What children need most of all from their parents is to feel loved, stable, and taken care of above all else. So at the end of the day, I say that’s the goal here.
That said, from an outside perspective, I’d say your girlfriend needs to take the high road and understand the situation as it is. Ideally she’d make an effort to be supportive, caring, and understanding of where this boy is in his world right now.
She may have her own triggers in this situation that she’s obviously avoiding by not being present. But as the adults, I think it’s important to have an open and honest conversation about how your relationship is affecting your son. If this relationship is something you intend to hold onto for the long run, you need to be partners in creating a stable environment for him. And that means showing him you’re both there for him consistently. By her avoiding contact, it’ll only send a message to him that this relationship is unstable and not something he can rely on. This is liable to only fuel the disconnect with her and continue to keep everyone at odds. I’m not saying she should step in and try to parent in any way—I think that would make things worse. What I am saying is, if she is here to stay, show him that stability in your relationship. Give him the time and space to adjust to your consistency and stability.
Remember he’s a teenager. I know how I was at that age—and it wasn’t pretty.