13

My situation is perhaps a bit unusual for a single parent: my wife passed away three years ago. My kids, six and eight, have clung to me since. When I approached the topic about six months ago, they specifically asked me not to date. Which was fine since we're for the most part happy and busy.

However, this spring, I totally went into heat. It was bad. I may as well have been half my age. I'm in no hurry to seek companionship, but I'd like to start moving in that direction. My kids will be hurt and take it personally; I believe this to be unavoidable. But I hope it can be reasonably manageable somehow (unless I want to wait another ten years).

My question is: How can I explain to them the importance of adult companionship in an age-appropriate manner, reassuring them of their paramount importance to me but slowly accepting that daddy (sooner or later) will bring a partner into our home?

4

Wow, your situation is a difficult one and I really sympathize. I've not been through that, but I've heard that the best approach is simply telling the truth and not being evasive - you need to be healthy yourself. Eventually your kids will leave you to seek companions for themselves, and they will need a healthy model to build their approach upon. Even if your kids are hurt, if they see you are honest and genuine, (and genuinely considering their feelings), then, even if saying whatever you have to say is less than perfect, it's better than seeming manipulative or evasive. (Not that you're doing that, but they may perceive it that way.)

Also keep in mind they are kids, so they really don't know what's best for them (or you) yet. But they'll have a keen sense for honesty and genuine emotion.

You could just start with something in the vein of, "I really miss your Mom, but I need wife... I don't want one, no, I need one to be happy. I have a hole in my heart. You're both going to grow up and leave me for your own companions. I don't want left alone when you do. Tell me when you're okay with finding a new wife. I want to find her with you two."

I'm sure they'll freak, but you are the adult. If you guys fight about it, forgive each other and move on.

So I guess whatever it is that is the most beneficial to all of you, which is clearly not being single for the sake of your children, is the best choice.

I know if my wife passed, she'd want me to be happy and to live a good life. But yeah, it'd be really difficult. Best of luck to you.

3

I think its not the matter of explaining them adult companionship, its ensuring them that you love them and will be always be there no matter what. It's ensuring them they have nothing to lose. Ensure them with words and actions.

If the women you are dating behaves accordingly to this philosophy, good to you, your kids and herself.

If not, whatever you explain will only have temporary effect, until the next fight comes.

You can also instruct your kids to tell you when they need time alone with you, instead of supressing their feelings about it until they explode. Just remember: its not about you, its all about them (at least in your kids head)

  • I liked some of your comments. However, it's mostly about me. A cohesive household with a loving adult couple can have a great positive influence, but my kids would call me out if I tried "it's all about them" BS in this situation. – Stu W Jul 23 '16 at 0:18
  • I mean that on their head, its all about them :) this effect affects you a lot, even if you dont want it. I say this because I have a kid and I am on a similar situation as you. I will edit the post – user5193682 Jul 23 '16 at 0:30
  • @StuW: It's not bullshit, it's the truth (hopefully). As always with children (and adults), it doesn't matter what you say, it matters what you do. If you show them they are important, they will believe. This includes openly communicating to your (potential) mates that there is someone else with a "prior claim" on your time and attention. – sleske Jul 25 '16 at 8:12
2

I have an idea for you Stu that you might actually work with.

Here's my idea:

Start talking to your kids about how loneliness can arise in adults when they don't have adult companionship as well as the companionship of kids. I think they will completely understand how lonely you can be because of the passing of your wife. Once they've accepted that you are feeling very lonely in this regard, they will come around. I don't think it will take much time particularly if you describe the loneliness in terms they can understand.

After they come around, you might even consider giving them a little bit of control in helping you find a woman. Don't cut them out of the process. You can have them look at photos of women or talk to women you might be interested in if you see available women at the grocery store or wherever. If you decide to approach it this way, let us know how it worked out. Thanks.

  • My 6 yo daughter has been the b-o-s-s since turning 5. – Stu W Jul 23 '16 at 0:20
  • 3
    The "involve the kids" part can backfire - I think it can be very confusing for a child to look at photos (are we shopping for a new mommy?) or chatting up strangers. – Stephie Jul 24 '16 at 7:59
  • 1
    @Stephie Yes. Much can backfire in this case. – Inquisitive Jul 24 '16 at 15:34
  • I would also advise against letting children "help". This is not their decision to make, and acting like it is will probably backfire - because, frankly speaking it is dishonest. – sleske Jul 25 '16 at 8:13
  • @StuW That's a separate problem, and a big one (re: "boss"). – Zayde in NY Jul 25 '16 at 17:28

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.