It's hard for kids to watch their divorced parents date new people. Even harder: tagging along on their parents' romantic getaway. In the new movie The Way, Way Back, Pam (Toni Collette) takes her 14-year-old son Duncan (Liam James) to Cape Cod, where they live with Pam's new boyfriend Trent (Steve Carrell). The "vacation" is anything but relaxing, mainly because of the tension between Trent and Duncan. Below are six love lessons we can learn from the divorced parents in the movie.
1. You're a parent first.
Pam is excited to spend the summer with her new boyfriend in his beach home-away-from-home; and she's dragging her 14-year-old son Duncan along for the ride. Duncan doesn't know anyone out there, although later he finds friends — and a male role model — through his job at the water park, Water Wizz. The job becomes an escape, and there are some positive people there to make him feel loved and appreciated. It's clear that Pam is looking to start over and excited the new relationship — but she shouldn't let it get in the way of her parenting. Her actions are pretty relatable, but she should still put her son on the front burner, instead of just dragging him along.
2. Don't talk trash about your ex in front of your kid.
Betty (Allison Janney), the mouthy, often-tipsy next door neighbor, frequently talks trash about her ex-husband, who has come out of the closet since their divorce. She's constantly asking her kids (Susanna, played by AnnaSophia Robb, and Owen, played by Sam Rockwell) to choose sides. Not only is it disrespectful to ask your children to choose a side, but they're also often not mature enough to accept this type of information.
3. Remember: You're the biggest relationship role model your kid has.
When you're in a relationship, you're constantly showing your child how to communicate, how to fight fair and how to express your feelings for another person. You want to make sure that you're modeling the healthiest behavior you can. No parent is perfect and no relationship is perfect, but imagine that your child is going to do exactly what you're doing someday: How would that make you feel about your behavior?
In parts of the movie, we see the kids shying away from making connections. Duncan, especially in the beginning, is withdrawn, brooding and upset. And Susanna shies away from him even though she likes him. It seems they are afraid to open themselves up to new relationships because the relationships they have observed aren't the healthiest. Keep reading...
More divorce advice from YourTango: