My ex and I disagree on our teenager dating – what can I do?

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Dear Sheila

My ex and I split 3 years ago and we agreed the childcare arrangements for our 15 year old son, out of court. I very recently found out through my son’s friend that my son has a girlfriend. I am not happy about this at all – my son is immature for his age and to be frank, I don’t like his girlfriend (I met her once, before they started going out, and I think she will be a bad influence on him). I spoke to my ex and it turns out that he has known about this for a month, but didn’t tell me. He says he is happy for our son and doesn’t think there is anything wrong with him having a girlfriend. I explained my concerns and they were completely dismissed by him. On top of this, he told me not to say anything to our son and that even if I tell my son that they should break up, my ex will tell him to ignore me. My ex has always been short-sighted with these issues and so his reaction doesn’t surprise me at all.

What do I do? I feel I need to act, but I don’t want a situation where me and my ex are telling my son different things. My son will naturally resent me if I’m the one telling him to break up with her, while my ex is saying the opposite. I can’t force my son to do anything, of course; it just doesn’t seem right that I have to look like the “bad guy” by being the responsible parent.


Amy, Woking

Dear Amy

Thank you for your e mail regarding your son.  First of all, well done in sorting out arrangements for your boy out of court.  I am guessing that the time your son shares with each of you is going well, you don’t say otherwise.

Just to make sure I have got this right, your 15-year-old son has a girlfriend.  He chose not to share this information with you, and you found out through a third party.  You have met the girlfriend and don’t like her.  Your co parent knew about the girlfriend but didn’t tell you. When you discussed your concerns with Dad he strongly advised you not to tell your son to break up with this girl.  You then go on to say that your ex has always been short sighted about these issues, but you don’t say what the issues are.

Having a 15-year-old son is an interesting time.  At 15 he will be deep into adolescence and adolescence is a time for taking risks, some work and some don’t.  He must be allowed to develop new relationships.  As a parent you will understand about unconditional love, this will probably be tested a bit during his next few years.  This unconditional bit is about loving him whatever he does and whoever he is with.  Your role is a supportive one whatever he does.  To be with him for the ups and the downs, which I am sure you have been during his life.  It is hard for a mum to come to terms with a child who is flying the nest.  Mums and Dads go down the pecking order during adolescence and friends take precedence.  It all evens out in the end.

You say you feel the need to act but quite rightly point out that you and your ex will be saying different things which will only unsettle your son. How would it be to do nothing and trust your son to take care of himself within this relationship?  If it goes wrong, he will have learnt lessons and if it is successful, feel happy that he is managing a grown up relationship. I am not sure that saying something equates to being the responsible parent.

I appreciate that dad has not supported you and rather dismissed your views on the girlfriend and relationship and whilst this is difficult, I am not sure there would be anything to be gained by putting your views forward. It might be an idea to try and get to know his girlfriend and maybe make a friend, you don’t want your son to feel he has to choose between the two of you.

Good Luck with it all



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