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Why do adult children fight parent’s lovers?

By Sandra Wekesa
Wednesday, October 14th, 2020
Why do adult children fight parent’s lovers?
In summary
    • Adult children may harbour feelings of resentment and anger when  a parent gets a new partner, especially  if they are not involved in the process.
    • It is  a paramount  for a parent to affirm  their children and assure them that  the new relationship will not mean the end of the parent-child bond.
    • Protective feelings are allowed, but children should not involve themselves in matters they know nothing  about.

Sandra Wekesa @wekesa_sandra 

After finding a new love, and willing to take it a step further, parents would definitely start off by introducing them to their children.

But there are two possible outcomes to this: the children may or may not accept them.  

In cases where the children are adults, it is not uncommon to find them showing aggression to the new partner to the point of  openly disrespecting or even fighting them. 

Children also go to the extent of killing their parent’s new partner as was the case in Kisumu earlier in the year when two brothers were on the run after they killed a young woman introduced to the family as their father’s second wife. 

They had accused her of ruining their parent’s marriage  and made their dad fail to visit their ailing mother in hospital.

Carol Snoike, for example, says there is no way she can come to terms with a grown up child being disrespectful to her or her partner because  she has chosen to move on.  

“As long as I have decided to be happy and I have let them know shouldn’t bring any problems. In fact, they should be happy with my decision to get a new partner,” she says.

To her, parents shouldn’t have to cope  with disrespectful adult children. Instead, children should come to terms with the fact that single, divorced or widowed parents, also need to be loved by other people.

“I am fond of telling people not to take medicine for my headache. If it doesn’t bother them directly, then why do they want to step up and fight something they know nothing of?” 

No involvment

Elmard Onditi, psychological counsellor, speaker and communication coach, says children always want to feel a sense of love, security and belonging from a young age.

However, this can be hampered by the very persons who are supposed to provide for them—their parents!  

Marriage, he says, has its ups and downs and if parents are not careful, negative effects of failing to handle complex situations can roll over to children. 

“Cases of divorce and separation have been on the rise lately, mostly as a last resolve to end a stalemate.

However, many children are not involved in this process. Parents assume their children are either too young to be involved or it’s just not their business,” he adds.

However, he says, this could be a reasons for adult children to be hostile towards their parent’s lovers. 

Read signals

“Often than not, many parents after a divorce or separation will seek another spouse to fill in the gap, which is ok.

However, many parents don’t engage their children when making this decision.

Consequently the child harbours feelings of resentment and anger towards both their parent and the new parent,” says Onditi.

Since most children are limited in confronting this situation, they carry the anger in them, showing disinterest towards their parents and the new parent as a sign of protest.

“If a parent doesn’t read the signals, it spills over into their adulthood. This explains why some children in their adulthood are likely to be aggressive towards their biological parent or their adopted parent either verbally, psychologically and in extreme cases, physically.

Male children are more likely to get physical to prove their manly ego and show who is in charge,” he explains.

On her part, Esther Mbau, counselling psychologist at Kipepeo Training Consultants, says lack of communication between the child and parent builds up anger, causing fights between them and the parent’s new lover.

It is, therefore, paramount that parents work on communication with their children before they start dating. 

“One thing parents should do is to affirm their children that they matter and the new parent will not come between what they had.

They should also create time for both of them, because adult children could be as insecure, just as little ones,” she says.

She highlights that parents need to realise the sooner they allow the change to be gradual, by making small changes, the sooner they will manage their children expectations.

“Just because this person is in your life doesn’t mean your children will be comfortable with them; therefore ensure that you manage their expectation,” she advises.

Even though children find it right to protect their parents in cases of cheating or moving on too soon, they should just know that it is not in their place to fight a war they know nothing of.

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