Help! My Kids Hate My Boyfriend

Single Parent Dating Tips: What to Do When Your Child Hates Your Date

Couple having coffee in cafe
Dave and Les Jacobs/Blend Images/Getty Images

Single parent dating is anything but stress-free. Not only is hard to find the time to date, but your kids are likely to have strong opinions about your choices, too. In fact, moms crying "Help! My kids hate my boyfriend!" isn't all that uncommon, but should it be a dating deal-breaker?

Here are some things that you can do if your kids dislike your partner.

When Your Kids Hate Your Partner

Your child's dislike for your partner can manifest itself in a variety of ways. It might involve acting passive or ignoring your partner, or it might even entail open anger and hostility. Kids might act cold, yell, not listen, or even refuse to spend time around your boyfriend or girlfriend.

Depending on how your partner responds, this conflict might create a roadblock in your relationship. It can also make your home life more difficult if your child is acting out or refusing to speak to you or your partner.

How you respond when your child hates your boyfriend is important because it speaks to the issue of balancing your needs against your kids' needs.

Where to Start

The first thing you need to ask is this: Do you have a problem with your child's behavior? Are you bothered by your child's reluctance to connect and build a relationship with your partner, or is there is some other behavioral issue that you are concerned about?

If you do have a problem with your child's behavior, that is usually the first place you should start. Deal with that before making any other decisions. You may find, too, that you need to cut back on your time away from the kids while addressing these behavioral concerns.

Determine the Real Issue

Some people might tell you that if your child hates your new love interest, you should automatically end the relationship. However, children are usually savvy enough to know that a parent's dating relationship may take time and attention away from them, and the quickest way to rebel against that is to reject the person you're dating.

Therefore, it's important to determine whether your child 'hates' your partner for a good reason that you don't yet recognize, or whether your children needs to realize that while they are your top priority, they don't rule every decision you make.

Try to understand some of the reasons why your child might not like your new partner Some of these reasons might include:

  • Feeling threatened or displaced
  • Feeling like your partner is "trying too hard"
  • Attempting to side with the other biological parent
  • Feelings of embarrassment that you have a romantic life
  • A reminder of your divorce and the upheaval that caused

To make sure that your child's reluctance is not based on a good reason not to like your partner, consider asking a couple of close friends or family members whether they have any concerns.

Sometimes it can be hard to see your relationship from a different perspective, and your feelings may be clouded by the affection you have for your partner. People who are close to you and have seen your kids interact with your partner can give you more objective feedback. Are there communication red flags? Do your kids have legitimate reasons to not like your partner? If your trusted loved ones feel like there are reasons to be concerned, then you need to pay close attention to whether this is really the right relationship for you.

Of course, you need to remember that the conflict might stem from the fact that your child and partner just don't get along. In this case, you probably need to work on establishing boundaries, opening the lines of communication, and helping your child and partner build a better relationship.

Talk it Over With Your Child

If you think your child dislikes your partner in an effort to initiate a power struggle, carve out some one-on-one time with your child to discuss the relationship.

Some things you might discuss during this conversation:

  • If you envision yourself remarrying at some point, let your child know that is a desire you have.
  • If it's appropriate, you can also let your child know that you, too, are disappointed that your relationship with his father cannot be salvaged, and in light of that, you're ready to move on.
  • Share with him some of the criteria you look for in a partner and explain how your partner has those qualities you are looking for. For example, "I'm really looking for someone who treats me with respect and is caring and considerate." Then, share a story or two about a time when your partner revealed those qualities to you.
  • Conclude the conversation by telling your children that you love them unconditionally and hope that they will support you in your happiness.

In addition, ask whether there is anything you can do to make the transition easier for your child.

Help Your Child Feel Included

Sometimes your child's anger and resentment stem from the feeling that he or she is being displaced or left out. Any effort you can invest in resolving those feelings will go a long way toward achieving the sense of harmony you're looking for.

Once you have had a conversation with your child, try creating some opportunities for your child and partner to get to know one another better in a way that is non-threatening. For example, try to get out of the house and do something fun together, and see how the opportunity to be playful together impacts their relationship.

Enlist Your Ex If Possible

If it's possible, it can be helpful to enlist the help of your child's other parent if possible, although this really depends on the state of your relationship with that person. If you can a good co-parenting relationship, talk to your ex about your child's feelings and behavior.

Sometimes children resent their parent's partner as a way of "siding" with their other parent. It can be helpful if the other parent talks to the child and shows support for your new relationship, making it clear that there is no resentment of your new partner.

Help your child understand that your partner is not there to replace the other biological parent.

Obviously, this is not something you want to do if your ex is hostile or actively saying negative things about you or your partner to your child. In this case, you should encourage your ex to speak to a counselor or friend rather than directing these frustrations toward your child.

Address Concerns You Have With Your Partner

At the same time, if you feel your partner is being too hard on your child or has unrealistic expectations, you need to talk about these feelings. Taking things to the next level without resolving such an important issue would only be an invitation for more discord between your child and your partner.

Finally, make an effort to be extra sensitive to your child while working through these concerns. Coping with divorce can be hard enough on kids, even without adding dating to the mix.

Was this page helpful?

Article Sources

Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Hunt TKA, Slack KS, Berger LM. Adverse childhood experiences and behavioral problems in middle childhoodChild Abuse Negl. 2017;67:391–402. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2016.11.005

  2. Clark B; Canadian Paediatric Society, Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee. Supporting the mental health of children and youth of separating parentsPaediatr Child Health. 2013;18(7):373–377.