Dating as a recently divorced adult with older children can be a very confusing experience. When you’re older and have been married a long time, dating again can be weird. Who are all these other people, and what do they want, and how can you make that work with all the habits you’ve developed over a lifetime of marriage and childrearing. Now one confused dad went to Dear Abby to ask if it was normal that his new girlfriend gets angry when he holds his daughter’s hand. Fortunately, she was there to tell him that sort of behavior is not normal at all.

The letter-writer told Dear Abby that he was recently divorced, but he’d already found a new love. He has two grown sons and a 15-year-old daughter. The problem is that his new girlfriend gets angry when he holds hands with his teenage daughter or shows affection in public. She told him that behavior was inappropriate. The poor dad was worried that she was right, and people would think it was inappropriate.

His girlfriend says dads can’t hold their teenage daughters’ hands in the U.S.

“I’m a first-generation American from Latin America, and I have a question regarding holding hands with my daughter in public,” he wrote. “I spoke with my mother about it and she told me she hugged, kissed (pecks on the cheek) and held hands with her father until the time she moved away from home.”

Like any doting parent, he doesn’t want to stop being affectionate with his daughter if she’s still comfortable with it. He also doesn’t want to have to rebuff her if she wants to hold his hand.

“As a father, I want my daughter to feel she can hold my hand if she’s inclined. I will not discourage her because I love her. I understand that one day she may no longer want to do that, and I would accept her wish,” he wrote. “Because I live in the United States, I need to know if the custom of daughters showing affection for their fathers is acceptable here in the U.S.”

The girlfriend’s fight is what’s weird and inappropriate.

Everything he describes sounds perfectly fine. The weird thing is that this dad’s new girlfriend is getting upset about this. If he’s explained to her that there’s nothing inappropriate going on, and that this is how people in his family act with each other–and has been since grandma was a girl–then she should have dropped it immediately. If she’s still fighting about it and telling him to stop holding his own daughter’s hand, that is weird and inappropriate.

 

(Image: iStockPhoto / jacoblund)