According to psychologists, losing a spouse is one of the most stressful events a person can go through. However, when you’re a parent the loss of your loved one is not only reflected in your eyes – it’s also reflected in the eyes of your kids as they’ve lost a mom or dad, and nothing can bring them back. After a certain period of mourning, you have to pick yourself up and dust yourself off, not only for your own sake but for the sake of your kids. They’ve lost one parent; they can’t afford to lose another one. Keeping in mind that life does go on, whether we like it or not, you’ll eventually find yourself in a situation where you’ll need someone by your side romantically.
Widowers dating is hard as it is because getting rid of your feelings of grief and guilt is no easy feat, and when you throw your children into the mix, the situation only gets more complicated. Today, we offer our advice on what you could do to make going back to dating easier on the kids, thereby lowering their feelings of resentment, and ensuring that when you meet the right person you can genuinely invest yourself in your new relationship.
No matter how old your children are, they can never see you as a sexual being, and can never get over the fact that you have needs and wishes of your own that have nothing to do with your role of being their mother or father. This is exactly why you shouldn’t force them to accept a reality that is incomprehensible to them and should let them come around when they’re good and ready. If they’re little, you don’t have to openly tell them you’ve met someone, but if they’re teenagers or older they should know because even though they probably won’t like it, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be informed.
Once you tell them, be discreet about how you conduct your affairs. Don’t talk about your dates or the person you’re seeing. Don’t text or talk to them in front of your children, and only mention him or her in passing. Your kids will be aware of your date’s existence, and they don’t need or want to know anything else for the time being.
Notwithstanding the fact that your children come first, it is now your job to find the right balance between seeing your new partner and being there for your kids. The older they are, the less they need you, which translates into more free time, but still, their needs should come first. Be prepared for their jealousy because they don’t like to share you with anyone, and make sure you do everything in your power that they don’t feel threatened by the fact you’re trying to move on.
Whatever you do, don’t let them see you’re feeling guilty by buying them more presents than usual, giving them more money or loosening their curfew. They will not appreciate it, and will only construe it as a sign of weakness. Like with wild animals, if your children sense blood, you’re running the risk of becoming their prey – they’ll start to manipulate you, abuse your trust, act out or completely withdraw to a point of making your and their lives miserable.
Widows and widowers dating is challenging on so many levels, and just like it gets easier for you as time goes on, it gets easier for your kids to find their peace with it. For the first several years of their mother’s or father’s death, chances are they’ll ignore the fact there is someone significant in your life, absolutely refusing to see you with another man or woman. If you keep putting their needs first, eventually they’ll come around and stop ignoring your partner. Your biggest ally during this time is patience because no matter how old they are they’re still your kids – little humans who refuse to see the world through the eyes of anyone but themselves.