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01st May 2024

Expert advice: What to do if you don’t like your child’s partner

Sophie Collins


“If this partner is making your kid happy, be happy for the kid”

Every parent’s worst nightmare is meeting their child’s new partner, only to be left with an uneasy feeling or a plain dislike of them.

It can feel very isolating as you try to navigate the situation and hide your true feelings to save any awkwardness.

It will be reassuring to know that according to Counselling Psychologist Leslie Shoemaker, this is a “worldwide problem”.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast earlier this week, the psychologist said she has experienced a similar situation within her family, admitting; “My sister married the guy my mother hated”.

“I love my brother-in-law, he’s fab,” she went on to say.

She explained that her mother was a “snob” and that her brother-in-law was not the right suitor in her eyes for her daughter.

“My Mom is lovely and she wanted the best for my sister.

“But the irony is my brother-in-law loves getting his hands dirty, so he’s always dirty,” she said.

“He’s not a doctor, he’s not an accountant, he didn’t meet the standard [she wanted for her daughter].”

Having experienced this while being equipped with the knowledge her profession provides, Shoemaker gave some great advice to anyone else going through this.

What to do?

It is important to understand parents approach it from a place of “love and caring” for their child, she emphasises.

We’ve all heard the following advice before, but it is so important to understand that: “The difficulty is, if parents go and just point blank say, ‘I don’t like them, they’re lazy, they’re this’, you’re going to push your child into the arms of that individual.

“You have to wait it out and hope the kid will see things [that you don’t like].

“As long as it’s not big red warning flags… and I think it’s an opportunity for parents to take a step back and look at themselves.

“Go, ‘Hold on, what’s this really about? What does this say about me?’”

Ms Shoemaker went on to advice that you need to always remember to “put your kid first and foremost”.

“If this partner’s making your kid happy, be happy for the kid,” she said.

This could be down to the fact that your child likely shares values with you, but they also have their own and their partner may align with their unique values.

“They may not be your cup of tea but it could be because your kid has some different values that you do and that relationship just reflects that.

“If a parent is bringing in racism or some sort of bigotry, just check yourself.”