What do you do when you feel uncomfortable about moving in with your parent's new partner? We share advice this week about how to communicate your concerns while respecting your parent's happiness

Hi Friend

My household has always been just my mum and me, as I am her only daughter. Recently, my mum started seeing a guy, and they are starting to get serious. They told me they wanted me to move into her boyfriend's home. There, we would also live with his 12-year-old son, who is one year younger than me. I do not like this idea. 

Living with a man and a boy deeply troubles me, but I also want my mum to be happy again. What should I do? 

Conflicted Only Child 


Hi Conflicted Only Child

It is thoughtful that you care so much about your mum's happiness, especially when you feel reluctant to live with her boyfriend and his son. But remember, she likely also wants you to be happy. 

While your experience might feel isolating, many other people are in similar situations even if their problems might not be exactly like yours. According to Hong Kong's 2011 Population Census, there were 81,705 single-parent families with children under 18 years old. 

For many young children and teenagers, after being accustomed to living with one parent, moving in with new family members can be difficult and can even cause anxiety. In addition to the everyday challenges, they often feel frustration, anger or envy, especially because it can seem as if they are losing their parents' time, care and love. 

This is not an easy dilemma to solve because it has been only you and your mother in your family for so long, but there are potential benefits to moving in with your mum's boyfriend. One upside is that your mother has the chance to develop her new relationship with someone who might be able to take care of her in the future. Some of these changes could benefit you too - having another adult figure to rely on and a sibling to build a friendship with. 

When it comes to living arrangements for families with children from previous relationships, there is no absolute right or wrong way to approach the situation. But the one thing that is crucial? Having respect for every family member, including you. You should share your reluctance and worries with your mother because genuine and thoughtful discussion will help you find common ground. 

Reflect first about what your needs and worries are. Why do you feel troubled living with new people? Are you worried about not having privacy or about potentially losing your connection with your mother? What would it take for you to feel safe in this proposed living situation? 

Ask your mother what her needs and worries are as well. Why does she want to start living with her boyfriend? Does it need to happen soon, or can the move wait until you feel more comfortable? What are the positives that she hopes will come out of this living situation? How will she support you when there are conflicts? 

once you have discussed these things, you will both hopefully have a better understanding of each others' perspectives, so you can start planning what to do next. You can suggest to your mother that you should interact more with her boyfriend and his son for a few months before deciding together whether to live with them. 

Keep an open mind, and respect them as friends of your mum. As with any relationship, it will take time to build trust and understanding, so don't feel rushed to get to know each other and feel comfortable right away. 

Even when there are conflicts, you should feel comfortable talking about it with your mum and eventually with her boyfriend and his son. Resolving conflict in a healthy manner will be important if you do decide to live together. Of course, if they say or do hurtful things to you or your mum, then it is not a safe situation to move into, and you may need to seek help elsewhere. 

On the other hand, if there are past relationships that cause you to distrust your mum's boyfriend and his son, it also may be helpful to discuss this with a professional. You mentioned that it deeply troubles you to live with a man and a boy, and it might be useful to explore the reasons behind this. 

If the new living situation is unsafe, or you have past relationship issues that are affecting you now, here are some places where you can find help: 

  • Counsellors or social workers at your school 
  • Hotline for youth emotional support: 2777 8899 (The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups)
  • OpenUp online counselling via WhatsApp or SMS: 91012012 (Funded by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust)

Regardless of whether or not you decide to make the move, we hope you and your mother will support each other as you adjust to the changes in your family. Remember, your happiness is just as important as hers, and communicating your thoughts and emotions with her is necessary so she can understand your needs too. 

Best of luck, Friend of a Friend

This question was answered by clinical psychologists from the Department of Health under their "Shall We Talk" initiative, jointly organised with the Advisory Committee on Mental Health. 
Source: Young Post