When your son announces that he will be bringing home his girlfriend for the first time, the expectation is that you will be greeted by a woman around his age. However, there is a decent chance that this will not be the case. We have all heard of the term “cougar”, but surprisingly, according to a survey conducted by AARP, over a third of older women between the ages of 40 to 69 are seeing a younger man.
If your son is dating an older woman, there are a few things to do before speaking your mind on the matter. Despite the fact that it may seem like she is robbing the cradle, it is likely that there is another reason for this unexpected match.
I’m assuming your son is over 18. If your son is younger than 18 and the woman he is dating is over 18, you’ll want to take a closer look into your state’s/country’s consent laws and take action from there.
Why Would He Want to Date Someone Older?
First and foremost, take a deep breath. Your son has brought home a woman who could very well be your age and that is quite a jarring realization. Not only that but if you have ever watched a movie where this scenario plays out, it is implied that the younger man prefers a “more experienced” woman. While a crude reference, the phrasing can be applied to other aspects of life, meaning that there are actually some reasonable explanations for this courtship.
The first reason is maturity. Many young women like to go out and party and tend to be a bit superficial. An older lady who has already sewn her wild oats may be more grounded, self-confident, and better educated than a 22-year-old. There is a lot of appeal in finding someone with that type of dating profile.
Moreover, building on this basis, a mature woman is more likely to sit down and engage in lively and intelligent conversation. Conversely, a young broad may be more in tune with trivial pursuits like creating TikTok videos and keeping up with her Instagram following. If your son has always been someone who prefers more “grown-up” activities, this could be a better fit for him at this time.
According to reports out of Stanford University, men are not becoming fathers until after reaching the big 3-0. Conversely, most women have children in their mid-20’s and with that biological clock ticking away, many young and hopeful potential mothers-to-be are prone to pressuring their significant others to rush into parenthood. Thus, dating an older woman can be an attractive alternative if children were not their main prerogative.
Unfortunately for you though, attaining grandchildren becomes a very exciting premise if your child was reaching that age range. If you are thinking “this hope quickly vanishes if my son is dating an older woman”, know that there are other ways for someone to build a family. Moreover, until they say “I do” this is not set in stone. Hence, there are some important things for you to do until your son makes that final leap.
Dealing With Son Dating an Older Woman
Here are a few ways to start dealing with the fact that your son is dating a woman older than him.
Although this video is made for young men, you can learn a lot about the dynamics of your son’s relationship.
After the initial shock has worn off, give the woman a chance. For all you know, they are a match made in heaven. While it is not what you pictured for your son, what is important is that he is happy and that they are both in the relationship for the right reasons. Take the time to get to know her and how this courtship developed. Find out if she supports his endeavors and goals for the future.
It is important to remember that if you are unaccepting, there is a chance that this will ruin your relationship with your son. Additionally, it will likely solidify in his mind that this is the right scenario for him.
Talk About Life Goals
Over the next few weeks, take the time to meet up with your son privately and inquire about how things are going with work, school, and his relationship. Make a point to show support. As time progresses, bring up topics about his plans for the future.
Where does he see himself in five years? Will he still be living nearby? Is he hoping to travel? Will he be getting a pet? You never want to directly point out that a life with her means no kids or that she will be slowing down in a handful of years. Instead, you want to have natural conversations about his current existence that draw him to think about his future.
Additionally, if other family members have kids, invite everyone over for a Summer barbecue or extended family game night. Consider these two proverbs: “Out of sight, out of mind” and “A picture is worth a thousand words”.
You hounding him about his life decisions will get you nowhere. Instead, this subtle reminder of what he would be giving up is a much better method for self-realization. If, in fact, he loves this person and is truly happy with this being a long-term relationship, then that is all that matters.
How Old Is Too Old?
Age is just a number, right? Well supposedly, there is a formula to calculate if this difference is appropriate or not. A French author from the early 1900’s claimed that if you cut the age of the older party in the relationship in half and then add seven, this dictates the absolute minimum age that their significant other can be while still maintaining appropriateness. Hence, a 50-year-old woman could date a man who was 32 according to the math. (50 ÷ 2)+7=32. Let’s just be honest though, an 18 year age gap is a bit much for any parent to swallow.
While it looks bad on paper, what should be considered more than the actual number is their status in life. Is your son just graduating from college and starting on a new chapter in his career or is he fully established at his job and in his living situation? Furthermore, how big is the gap? Ten years may seem like a lot, but in actuality, it is not a huge difference in life experience. Take into consideration what you know about your child and where they are in their professional and personal journeys before passing judgment.
When is Dating an Older Woman Not Okay
The only situation in which your son dating an older woman is 100% not acceptable is if your son is younger than 18. Depending on your state or country there are laws protecting children.
If your son is 16 for example and he is in a relationship with a 30-year-old woman, it is your job as a parent to protect them from her. Sexual offenders are not always men.
Obviously, this is an extreme example but it happens more often than you think.
Final Thoughts – My Son Is Dating An Older Woman
While you may want to wish this scenario away, it is your son’s current reality. In order to preserve your relationship, it is important to keep your disappointments to yourself and avoid alienating him. Continue to treat him as you would if he were dating someone his own age. It is likely that over time this infatuation will fizzle out.
However, it is important to remember your life experiences. Your parents likely didn’t love all of your significant others. Think back on how they reacted and the way those interactions impacted your relationship with them. Don’t let history repeat itself. You don’t get to choose your family, no matter if it is by blood or by marriage. What you can choose is how you act and react to this situation.
Ultimately, this is his decision and as long as he is over 18, this is out of your control. Therefore, have faith that you raised your son well and that he will look for good qualities in a partner.