Care and Feeding

My Dad’s New Girlfriend Is Seriously Creeping Me Out

Do I really have to be around this?

A fortysomething man holding papers and a teenage girl in a backpack.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Ridofranz/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

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Dear Care and Feeding,

My parents separated about a month ago. My dad is now dating a girl who goes to the community college he teaches at. She dropped his class to date him, and she’s 18, so technically there’s nothing wrong with it, but … well, honestly, it’s weird for me. I’m 17, and my 41-year-old dad is dating someone only a year older than me, who was in high school at the same time I was. I like her fine—she’s really sweet, and I feel like we would be friends if we met at school.  But I can’t relax around them, and my dad can tell and it makes him mad (understandably—I mean, this is his life, right?). I feel incredibly uncomfortable seeing them kiss. She spends the night, too. How do I deal with this?

—Anxious About Dad’s New Girlfriend

Dear Anxious,

There is something “technically” wrong with this. I can pretty much guarantee that your dad is not supposed to be dating a student at the community college where he teaches, even if she did drop his class. There is also something morally wrong with it. You should not have to be the one to tell your dad either of these things, though—and you should not have to witness this relationship, either. It is absolutely not “understandable” for him to be angry with you. You don’t say anything about your mother, so I am wondering if you are splitting your time between their two homes or living full-time with Dad. I also don’t know what kind of terms the two of them are on. But all things being equal, your mother needs to know about the position you’re being put in (it’s a very bad position!). And if there is another adult (other than or along with your mother) you can talk to about what’s happening, perhaps they could talk to your dad and point out to him how bad this is for everyone involved.

Meanwhile, get out of the house when she comes over. Go to your mother’s place, whether it’s “her” night or not (if you don’t feel comfortable telling him why you need to do this, it’s perfectly OK to just say you’d rather stay with Mom tonight—for as many tonights as Girlfriend is in residence). If Mom’s is not an option, stay at another relative’s, or at a friend’s. I hope your refusal to be present will knock some sense into your out-of-control father. But whether it does or doesn’t, you do not have to be a witness to his grotesque behavior.

— Michelle

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