When Parents Clash
Saving Your Sanity
If one of your parents has moved on to another relationship,
watch out for the tendency to reject their new partner or try to pretend that
they don't exist, says Goldscheider. While you may not care for that person
yourself, he or she is important to your parent. "Don't ever put a parent
in a situation where they have to choose between the new spouse and the
child," says Eth. "It's unfair and painful for everyone."
Lindsey wasn't pleased when her father married the woman he
left her mother for. But she knows that a relationship with her father includes
his new wife. The tension is there, but Lindsey tries to take the high road
when visiting their home.
Knowing your parents and talking with them about potential
issues ahead of time can help things go more smoothly at special events, says
Buchanan. "Don't avoid it," she tells WebMD. "What if they start
fighting over the front pew at your wedding and ruin the entire day?" She
says you're better off broaching these topics ahead of time -- when people have
time to think it through and prepare themselves emotionally -- than crossing
your fingers and hoping for the best.
Beware Unrealistic Expectations
Sometimes it's not just the parents. Unrealistic expectations
on the child's side can also wreck havoc. "Sometimes even adult children
fantasize that their parents will get back together again," Goldscheider
says. For example, if your parents can hardly be in the same room, expecting
them to dance together at the wedding is a sure recipe for disaster -- and
probably a fantasy you need to let go of, she says. "In some cases if they
are in the same room and are behaving themselves, that has to be enough,"
Eth also warns of falling into the fantasy of the perfect
event. "It's a setup for disappointment," he says. "Don't do that
to yourself." Working with things as they are rather than wishing things
were different will make the event easier for everyone, he says.