Your new love has adult children. They are a royal pain. What’s your next step?

In the movie Gloria Bell (2018), a budding romance between two divorcees fizzles in part because one of them has two misbehaving adult daughters. Needy and spoiled, they call at inopportune times and prove a suffocating presence.

It’s easy to watch this unfold and think, “How can a parent let their adult children get away with this?”

There is no simple answer. But that makes dating a drag for the beleaguered parent and their partner.

Elderly people looking for a romantic relationship are often faced with a son or daughter who demands attention. The challenge for the other partner is to withhold judgment and avoid making derogatory comments.

Let’s say you are the other partner. It drives you crazy to think you’ve found a desirable mate, only to find their adult child is a royal pain.

The best advice is also the hardest to apply: Keep your opinions to yourself.

“Most people are very sensitive to their adult child and parenting,” said Dr. Joshua Coleman, Ph.D., a California-based clinical psychologist. “Proceed with caution” if you are tempted to offer your opinion on the parent-child dynamic.

If the parent starts complaining about their adult child, listen carefully. Show empathy. But don’t use their comments as an excuse to pile up and unleash your own invective.

Driven by good intentions, you may feel compelled to offer what you consider to be constructive feedback on how your new love might parent more effectively. But your unsolicited contribution can backfire.

“A difficult adult child’s problems may seem easier to solve than they really are, especially if the adult child is troubled,” warned Coleman, author of “Rules of Estrangement.” For example, you may champion the virtues of “tough love” without fully appreciating the complexity of the situation.

Of course, you have the right to express your concern if things start to go wrong. But use diplomatic language.

“Resentment can set in if you feel your mate is giving in to the needs of the adult child,” Coleman said.

He suggests leveling up with your partner while focusing on how it affects you. For example, say, “Your son calls at 5:30 p.m. and we missed our dinner reservation. I feel like it’s interfering with our plans and I’m uncomfortable with it.

It’s better than an unfiltered, judged comment like, “Your son is a brat. You have to set limits. »

Better yet, preface your remarks with a dose of empathy. Begin by saying, “I know you love your child. Then add, “I would feel better if you could prioritize our time together.”

“That way it’s not about blaming or shaming,” Coleman said.

Another approach is to invite your new love to explore potential solutions. Position yourself as a compassionate ally.

When your mate complains about their son or daughter, don’t join in the criticism. Instead, acknowledge the situation and ask gentle questions. Examples: “Wow, that looks hard. What do you think is going on? or “That sounds hard. What do you think your options are? »

“Focus on supporting and validating your partner,” said Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., a distinguished sociology professor at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. “Don’t try to fix it. You don’t want to interfere. You want them to sort themselves out.

Orbuch, author of “Secrets for Surviving Your Children’s Romantic Relationships,” says that even if your partner enlists your help to play fixative, you don’t have to oblige.

“When people get your advice and it doesn’t work, you’re to blame,” she said. “Even if it works, it’s a short-term change. For long-term change, you want them to figure out how to do it on their own.

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Post expires at 6:14pm on Monday July 4th, 2022