What do you do when there’s a power struggle between your child and your new partner?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 10,900
    Relationship expert Gloria MacDonald discusses dating over 40, including what to do when there is a power struggle between your new partner and your child.

    Speaker: What do you do when there is a power struggle between your child and your new partner?

    Gloria MacDonald: Very often there are power struggles between someone's children or child and the new partner. This is common, it's just natural. People are kind of staking out their territory and don't forget you are taking some of your attention away from your child or children and giving it to this new person. It's a natural reaction, frankly, on both sides, from the new part and from the children. So you need to understand again, how grave is this situation. I had a woman once who emailed me and said that she was dating this man and his 12 year daughter constantly came and physically push herself between them. So if they would be sitting on the couch watching TV, she would come and physically sit between her and her boyfriend or if they were talking a walk and she and her boyfriend were holding hands, she would come between them and hold her father's hand. In a situation like this for awhile this is natural, but it's not healthy for a child to constantly be physically inserting himself between the two adults and so you do need to address it and one of things you can do is ask yourself, okay, what am I as an adult doing to potentially take the father away from his daughter in that particular case and there are things that I can do as an adult to show this 12-year-old daughter that I am not trying to take her father away from her; what can I do to be inclusive when the three of us were together; what can I do to allow the two of them, even when I am around to have some of their own time together. How can I create a balance?

    If things continue and they persist then this is not healthy for the child and again, I would highly recommend that you get help for the child. In this case, the father didn't see that there was anything wrong with that at all and if it does go on for an extended period of time, that's going to hurt the child. So you do need to get help. It's not always easy. In fact, sometimes that can be incredibly difficult to suggest to your new partner that he needs help for his child and obviously, normally there is another parent involved. So these situations can be really tricky. Power struggles are natural, they are normal and it's okay if they last for a period of time, for a couple of months or so. If they go on for a year or more then you need help, you need professional help in that particular situation, but look at again, what you can do to help alleviate the situation to comfort the child and show the child that your intention is not to take that parent away from them and to be inclusive and when you set the child at ease you will find that they start to feel much more comfortable with you around and they start being inclusive of you in their own situation.