23 answers

My Daughter Is Dating an Older Divorced Man with 3 Kids

Well the subject line has to say it all! My 19 year old is beautiful and so independent that she just knows this is what she wants! We have talked about it and I have said "I do not approve" but I have also not said "break it off". I want her to be independent but it makes my skin crawl to see my beauty with this beast! What can a 32 year old divorced man with 3 kids (the oldest one is 15) have in common with my beauty. If you talk to her she is very serious and responsible so she thinks she knows it all but isn't that all teenagers and young adults! I really do blame him, he should know better!
We decided to meet him over New Year's eve. I put my feelings aside and talked to him but this is the most arrogant man I have ever met. To say the least by then end of the evening their were "fireworks" and I'm not talking about the ones in the sky! One of my siblings told her to choose "family or him" and she has not spoken to them since.
Here's my question: Do I just ride out the storm? I can't imagine this will last!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Just wanted to take this time to THANK EVERYONE for their comments and stories, they have really helped me! I promise to keep you updated I hope in not too long of a time I can write "I'm relieved to say...." but until then I will remain supportive and pray, pray, pray!! Thank you all!

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I know what you are going through. My daughter is now 23 but when she was 18 she began dating someone who I did not think was right for her. He wasn't older but I just knew he was not the right one. At first I let her know how much I did not like him but eventually I realized that the more I spoke against him, the more she was determined to be with him. She actually dated him for about 3 years but I think if I had just gone with the flow instead of letting her know how I really felt, she would have broken up with him sooner. My advice to you is to ride out the storm. If forced to choose at this point, she will probably choose him just because kids that age don't want to admit mom is right. She'll probably drop him sooner if she thinks she is doing it because it was her idea & not moms. Oh, by the way, when my daughter finally told me they had broken up, I just said, "Oh ok" & that was it. I didn't make a big deal about it. Hope everything works out with you.

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Hi C.,
I'm in my mid twenties and I still remember my days of rebeling. I was and am still very independent. I really think you should be there for your daughter. Let her know how you feel without being overbearing. If she is independent I have a feeling the more you push one way the more she will push another way and then it will more than likely get ugly. You said it probably won't last and your right it probably wont. So just be there because you don't wont to alienate yourself from her. You want her to feel like she can come and talk to you. Just bide your time and she'll probably get tired of being in the position of "step mommy" and want to do what normal teenagers do.... have fun and hang out w/people there own age. I'm sure it's just a faze. Trust your daughter after all I'm sure you brought her up very well. But, remember you can not pick who someone falls for.... she ultimately has to be the judge of who is best for her, but like I said she'll probably grow out of it.
Good Luck

1 mom found this helpful

I was 16 with a 51 year old man. At 17 I got my mom to sign papers so I could marry him because I had done had a child with him and at 19 was our second child.I thought I loved him maybe I did. Though this may be completely different my husband was a psycho. Shot me in my leg didn't care about our children or child from previous marriage. This man was well respect by his co-Workers.50 year old hard worker can be. Well my story could go on for ever but being 22 now here is what I can tell you. After my divorce and him acting so crazy. That man had no reason to be with someone so young. Though I was mature for my time which you can be at a young age there is still something missing from someone so young that makes them an adult. I was tired of dating young guys because they just wanted to party all the time or joke all the time and I couldnt carry an intellectual conversation with them that is what drew me to an older man. I liked the structured life style. That of a family but not really the one I grew up with. Being so young at 19. My mom felt the same way you do. I always did what I wanted. And I became successful most of the time. She will miss out on hanging out with her friends hopefully they will wait for her. So much to say about it. So many bad memories and wasted time I could have been doing things i enjoyed. Good luck momma.

1 mom found this helpful

Well being a young adults mom is hard. Have you thought of actively including the man and his kids in every family activity you can think of and being oh so nice and accomodating. Tell your daughter you now realize she is grown and had hoped she would have the type of fun young girls have college, first own apartment, ect. You NOW realize she wants to skip these things and go right to the hard stuff kids, responsiblities AND DEALING WITH AN EX-WIFE. One of 2 things will happen you will get to know him and his kids and will see what your daughter sees in him or your daughter will see he doesn't fit in her family life and that she is missing out. This will be hard but either way you win, you won't lose your daughter. Best of luck.

mother of 2 young adults

My heart goes out to you as a mother. I have a daughter who will turn 19 in May and some of the decisions she has made since graduation are beside me.
As mother's we want to be able to control their lives but like you said you want her to be independent and learn things on her own. i'd like to protect all three of my children from the hardships of the world and remind them the struggles I went through by not making smart choices.
All i can suggest is to pray on the matter and ask God to protect her from any harm and to remove this person from her life if his heart is not sincere. I am her to tell you, the power of prayer is amazing! Good-luck and i will add you in my prayers.


I am no expert but I have been in your daughter's situation. The guy that I dated was a loser (I found out later) but the more my mom preached the more I was driven to him. I was young and always had to find out for myself what was going on, no one could tell me anything! But thank the Lord that I finally realized the truth and got out of that situation. Your daughter sounds a lot like me at that age. Now, I have a 15 year old daughter and I am remarried, we are very close but argue and fight, but it's always been me and her. Hopefully, you and your daughter had a good relationshiop before this. I think she will see the light, just be patient.

Don't preach!! She is sure to resent you and want him even more!! I've lived it!!

Hope this helps!

S. M.

Yes, ride out the storm. You should be able to voice your opinion, though. Focus on her though when you tell her. So she won't feel defensive. Like why would she want to have all the responsibility of three kids that are almost her age, with a man that is providing what for her? When she has some time to think about it, especially what kind of future is in it for her, she may re-think this one. After all your opinion is only that and we can only control ourselves. She has to make the decision and you need to support her. Good luck--grab your umbrella. V. n.


I, too, can be a voice from your daughter's side. I was there. I was dating a 24-year old divorcee at 18 (thankfully there were no kids involved). My parents were beside themselves. My mother always told me that she did not like him and didn't approve of our relationship, but that I was an adult and able to make my own decisions. I won't even get into the part about my dad threatening to dismember him (yes, that actually happened).

I cannot tell you how important that support from her meant to me, even in the face of something she didn't agree with. She was allowing me to make my own mistakes and grow as my own person without trying to tell me what to do.

Your sibling who gave her an ultimatum sounds like my Aunt, who did the same thing. Trust me, trying to ban her from the relationship or make her choose will not end well. She will cling even tighter to this man.

Granted, my guy wasn't 32. But we did end up getting married 2 years later. After my parents really got to know him, he became the son they never had and we all enjoy a wonderful relationship with each other. I've now been married almost 7 years and I'm sure I wouldn't have made a different choice if given the chance to do it over again. But, then again, he was not arrogant, and he was only 6 years older, not 13.

So, I remain with the previous poster that your job is to love her regardless, and not force a decision on her. The likelihood is that she's not yet ready for a relationship like this (especially if she has not had to deal with the ex yet), and it will implode upon itself. Your job, as horrible and hard as it may be, is to be her support through it all, whatever decision she makes.

Good luck, Mom. Your self-advice was the best... ride out the storm!

C., with all my respect - it seems that you've already lived your own life and made your own mistakes. She's 19 and that is pretty young but, as you mentioned she is very mature or responsible and you already told her that you do not approve the relationship. (You did not mention how long has she dated him). If the guy is indeed an arrogant person, let her figure it out by herself and most important, be there when she needs you. Just a thought!

When I was her age, I went after some older men myself and did some other stupid things, but eventually came to my senses. I know one thing that just pushed me further away was my family nagging and telling me that they disagreed. You don't have to be happy about it, just love her and let her make her choices and be there for her when she needs you. I KNOW that what eventually brought me back to my senses is that I had A LOT of people praying for me. Just give it Him and let go of control.
Also, a person should never be asked to choose family or someone else. Family is family ~ they are to be there no matter what & if asked to choose and the choice isn't family, it will just make it worse.

I'll be praying for you and your daughter - have faith that it will work out!


Pray,Pray and pray. This to shall pass. Is he arrogant or is he hiding behind his insecurities? You have to trust in your parenting skills, know that you did your best with her and let go of the worrying about this situation. It will work itself out. Trust God!!

I too am in my 50's and have gone through this also with my daughter. This man was so arrogant, that it was very hard for me to be around him. I have found out that the more we talked about the issue, the more distance we got in her life. Sometimes we need to remember that some lessons learned, are the hardest ones lived. I love the saying "LET GO AND LET GOD" I did ask my daughter to slow down and give it time. All of this did work out great, because in time she was able to know how he truly was. Next time she was more carefull in choosing someone, and giving it time too. Just keep letting her know that you love her, and want what is best for her.

I know what you are going through. My daughter is now 23 but when she was 18 she began dating someone who I did not think was right for her. He wasn't older but I just knew he was not the right one. At first I let her know how much I did not like him but eventually I realized that the more I spoke against him, the more she was determined to be with him. She actually dated him for about 3 years but I think if I had just gone with the flow instead of letting her know how I really felt, she would have broken up with him sooner. My advice to you is to ride out the storm. If forced to choose at this point, she will probably choose him just because kids that age don't want to admit mom is right. She'll probably drop him sooner if she thinks she is doing it because it was her idea & not moms. Oh, by the way, when my daughter finally told me they had broken up, I just said, "Oh ok" & that was it. I didn't make a big deal about it. Hope everything works out with you.

I can remember that age very well. I have 21, 20, 15 year old kids myself. I got married when I was 19- yup still married to the same guy. LOL But my dh is only 4 years older than me. ;-)

I would say 19 yr olds think they know it all, so you are not going to be able to 'talk sense' to her at all. What I think I would be tempted to do....and this may or may not work.

I would ask her about his kids. Rather than focus on him, focus on the kids. I would simply ask 2x at most...."What do the kids think about your dating their dad? Do you get along with them? Do you think you could handle the 15 yr old if you were alone and he pulled some stupid stunt (wrecked the car, smoked pot, got arrested)?

And one other that I think all people dating divorcees need to really look hard at.....WHY IS HE DIVORCED??? AND IF THE WIFE WAS UNFAITHFUL, WHY? There are always two sides to a story. What did he find wrong with his first wife? I would not make this an issue but just casually ask about it and say, "Oh, okay, hmm...just wondered."

I would only ask each question once. And I would ask only 2 at a time when she is receptive to talking calmly. I find the best thing is to ask in a questioning, open manner like you are curious about why someone likes blue cars. Not in a "ARE YOU STUPID?" manner. If you know what I am trying to convey.

Get her wheels turning about the WHOLE picture.

I think if you find the man arrogant then it is most likely he is just a bit of a control freak and has found an easy target. 19 year old girls "Fall in love" easily and you can't talk them out of it. They have to figure out for themselves if the man is the one they want to spend the rest of their life with. They have to figure out if they want to essentially help raise his kids. They have to figure out for themselves what they want out of life--their whole life.

It is hard but this is where we practice treating them like an adult and they practice acting like one. LOL

Dear C. S.,

I am currently doing a research on this subject for my university. I would appreciate it if you would like to talk to me about this, if you are willing to please send me an e-mail.


B. van E.

Remember unconditional love! The absolute worst thing you can do right now is have her choose between this man and her family. She needs all the support she can have right now. The thing she wants the most right now is support and you do not have to agree to what she is doing right now to show her support. Do not remind her all the time that she is making the wrong choice even though you think she has because if you do then she will stop calling you and coming around. And remember that this guy walked into a home where he knew that he wasn't wanted and put up his defensive right away. You never know he could be a great guy. My husband and I started dating when he was 29 and I was 19. Everyone said wow that is a huge age difference and alot of friends and family thought it was not a good idea. Here we are four kids and 6 years of marriage later and we are still crazy about eachother. Unfortunately some family thinks that I "settled"(mostly my father and stepmom) and I still to this day dont talk to them cause I do not want my kids around their negativity about our family. Please don't let that happen to you and your daughter! Plus by showing her support she will know that no matter what her family will always be there just like a family should!

I went through that too. I dated an older man with kids and I thought it was great. I thought I wanted a family, and wanted to be a Mother and wanted to feel needed...this man gives all of that to your daughter. I can only hope for your sake that she gets bored like I did. The only way she will lose interest, is for HER to lose interest and nothing you guys say will change her mind...quite the opposite with us hard-headed types. What is she doing, working or going to school.. sounds like she needs to get a good-looking peer to show interest...now I am not condoning this...but my Mother once took a guy to where I worked and pointed me out and told him to ask me out :) Good luck and let the baby out of the next to fall on her own! (maybe you should talk about birth control at this point so she doesn't end up stuck in the relationship heaven forbid!)

Hello, C..

All of the advice given so far has been really, really good. I teach sex education to teenagers and work with parents on how to best parent teenagers - especially around issues of sex and sexuality.

I want to reinforce the other posters who said that disapproving will only push your daughter away. However, I disagree that you should let her know that you disapprove any more than you already have. As one person pointed out from personal experience - she always knew when her mother disapproved even when it was unspoken. Your daughter will know too.

You don't want to express your dislike of the man or your disapproval of the relationship for exactly the same reason that someone else posted about: It will make her cling to the relationship more strongly. Here's why: When you express your disapproval, your daughter is put into the position of defending the relationship. By defending the relationship, she cognitively and emotionally aligns herself more firmly in that relationship.

I also want to emphasize the importance of you genuinely being kind to this man. Maybe the relationship won't work out. But that's not something you should bet your money on. Couples with a large age span happen all the time. The man's kids do make it harder - especially because the oldest is so close in age to your daughter. But accept that this may be your daughter's path. And either way, it is not yours to choose.

Be patient. One way or another, it will get better.

K. Rayne
My blog: http://www.karenrayne.com

That is crazy...I dated a 32 year old guy when I was 19. Honestly for me it was a phase. He introduced me to different things and although I was mature for my age there were so many times we clashed. I hope she is not easily manipulated or swayed. Older men have a way of trying to control the relationship and molding the girl into the type of woman they want...which is why I think a lot of them go for younger gals. I was so headstrong and unmanageable in his eyes (lucky for me) that he couldn't tell me "what" for nothing. I finally just got sick of him and his going to bed at 8 pm that I ditched him! I think it will pass. If she doesn't figure it out soon eventually she will. good luck

Does your daughter actually spend time with his kids or are the children's mother raising them? You would think your daughter would feel weird dating a man with a daughter not even 5 years younger than her. Maybe you should emphasize that, but don't, by any means, tell her to chose between him or family. She has to know that you'll be there if he dumps her or something. If she feels like her family doesn't love her it will make her want to be with him more, because it will be her "safe place." even though he's clearly not if he's as errogant as you say he is. I'm only 21 and I have two kids. My first son was 1 when I was 19 and I couldn't imagine dating someone as old as my dad. Do you talk with her friends? Sometimes getting them to disaprove will make your daughter sort of realize that what she's doing isn't really great for her. Friends seem to communicate better than parents with their children.

I really hope I could help some.

Wow. I am so sorry that you are going through this. I'm not much older then your dd and I couldn't imagine dating a whole family like this. That is a ton to take on. I'm so sorry that this man doesn't mesh with your famly also. This sounds like two seperate issues to me.
The only advise I can give is to tell you what my mother has always done with me. She has this way of disaproving silently. I can always read it in her face, though. As I've gotten older, I have learned to recognize the look, and now I even thank her for it at the time. She knows that I will do what I want and am the type that has to make my own mistakes.
I think that the most important thing that you can do in this situation is to support your dd. It will be hard, but she needs to know that she has a gracful way out if/WHEN she sees this is not the best idea that she has had. BUT it HAS to be HER choice. Whether it is a look or a quiet talk in a neutral place (ei a cafe, in a store, somewhere neither of you will feel threaten and will feel compelled to keep it down.)I would suggest offering your opinion and your support.
Good luck. You will be in my prayers.

I can only give the opinion of someone who did something similar. When you tell your daughter that you do not approve and to end the relationship, all you're doing is driving a wedge between you and your daughter. You're going to drive her away and I know that's not what you want. She will either realize that he isn't what she's looking for or she really loves him. At least this is a man who can honestly say that he knows what he wants. He has been married before and he has quite a bit of life experience. I married at 19 and am now divorced 7 years later. I had to realize that I had some growing up to do before I could've possibly known what I wanted in a man. She is going to have to make her own mistakes and learn from them. My advice to you is to be supportive. Try having them over just the two of them for dinner. Explain that you think everyone got off on the wrong foot and that you want to start over. Start with an open mind and an open, non-judgemental heart. I realize that he is much older and "should know better," but what if this man is really truly in love with your daughter? Don't you think that's what she deserves? You can also think of it this way, would you rather she be with this man or a boy closer to her own age that is far less deserving of your little angel?

She's 19, she's still a kid herself... just trust in the fact that a 32 year old guy with 3 kids is not going to be exciting for very long.... she will get bored with the whole playing mommy and having to stay in after a while, especially when she sees her friends going out having fun and she is having "family night" with daddy.

Keep in mind, the more you object, the more she is going to want to be with him, so maybe tone down the objections, it will make him alot less attractive.

Edit: when i was 22 i dated a 35 year old man (a farmer... so about 245 since farmers age in dog years and he'd never been married) and i was in LOVE with him. because of our age gap we didn't have alot in common so eventually the relationship just fizzled out. although i still look back on those feelings fondly, i can see God's plan in all of it and am happy that things didn't work out. anyway, i guess my point it, whatever happens was meant to happen for her, but chances are the novelty of dating an "older guy" will wear off.

I can't speak from a mom stand point but i was your daughter when I was her age. What i can tell you from that perspective, is it probably won't work, and when it doesn't she will need a safe place to fall. don't burn any bridges before then. my mom let me know she did not like him, but would always be there for me. she never made me choose between her and him. at that time in my life i would have chosen him and pride would have kept me from admitting i was wrong. instead she rode out the storm and it all ended up right in the end. i will pray for your guidance during this situation and insight on what lies ahead! good luck!

D. Mattern-Muck
The MOM Team
"The only thing that counts is faith, expressing itself through love." Galatians 5:6

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