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February 19, 2017

MY DAD IS DATING MY 5TH GRADE TEACHER!!!!

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What’s up, Brandon! I have a major issue. My former 5th grade teacher is—gulp—dating my DAD!!! My father thinks that since I already know her, it’s not as strange as him dating someone totally new…but it IS! Whenever she’s over for dinner, it gets SUPER awkward!!! I’m getting REALLY stressed out! I really don’t want the other kids in my class finding out. It would be SO humiliating, and I’d NEVER hear the end of it. If anyone can help, it’s you!

Dad Dating Disaster

Hey Dad Dating Disaster,

Oh wow! This is…a unique situation.

But, maybe it’s not that unique after all. Plenty of kids have to go through discomfort when a parent starts dating someone new. And others feel uncomfortable when they encounter a teacher in a non-school situation.

But yikes, your dad dating a former teacher is definitely a special circumstance. It seems like there are two different things going on here. First, there’s the awkwardness you feel when you hang around them. And second, there’s the stress of what your classmates will think.

So, let’s talk about the awkwardness first. I mean, your dad is being kind of oblivious if he thinks it should be MORE comfortable for you because you already know the teacher. But hey, he’s in love! Or, at least it sure seems like it. Everyone’s judgment gets a little messed up when they’re crushing. Not excusing it, just saying.

I’m guessing your teacher has a better idea that you’re uncomfortable. Because she’s a teacher, she might understand how kids think and feel better than your average adult. But, maybe she’s crushing too hard on your dad to think straight too. (Sorry, I’m sure that’s weird.)

So look, you can’t change how they act. You can only control how YOU react to THEM. Maybe think about WHY you feel awkward. Would anything help you feel less awkward?

Maybe it would help to get to know your teacher better. Then you could stop thinking about her as “your teacher.” Right now, the idea of spending MORE time with her probably sounds like terrible advice. But, I wonder if it might help. Maybe you two could hang out for an afternoon without your dad around. Then you won’t have the dynamic of their googly eyes making things weird, and you can concentrate on getting to know what she’s like outside of school. If you find your own connection with her, it might not be as weird.

As for being humiliated if your classmates find out…what are you worried they’ll do or say? I mean, she’s not YOUR teacher anymore. So they can’t say you’ll get special treatment or something. And, YOU’RE definitely not the one dating her, so they can’t say you’re in love with her (that was supposed to be a joke, by the way. 🙂

They might express shock – “OMG, your dad is dating your teacher!?!?!” But then you can just respond with your own shock. “I KNOW!! I can’t believe it either!!!”

I think this is one of those situations where if YOU act like it’s a big, embarrassing deal, that’s what it’ll be. But if you don’t let it bother you—or at least manage to pretend that’s what you’re doing—other kids won’t see it as such a big deal, either.

And, if you’re stressed about the moment when other kids will find out, maybe take control of that and tell them yourself. If you’re the one who brings it up, that’ll take even more of the power out of it, I think.

How would the rest of you handle it if your mom or dad were dating a teacher? How do you get over the weirdness when your mom or dad is dating ANYONE new?