Dear Barb – Dating Dilemma

Dear Barb:

My father is 55 years old and has been widowed for several years. He didn’t date for a long time after my mother passed away and I know he was very lonely. The problem is that now he is dating indiscriminately.

When I go to his apartment I find women’s clothes, makeup, etc. all over the place. Often he has women there when I visit with my children, or he will bring different women to my home. Some of these women are much younger than my father, even closer to my age. I am concerned about AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases he may be exposed to.

How can I get my father to stop this foolish and risky behaviour without causing problems between us?

Thanks, Cathy

Hi, Cathy. Sorry about the loss of your mother; she must have been quite young. Your care and concern for your father is expressed clearly throughout your letter. After grieving for so many years your father may be trying to make up for lost time. On the other hand, he may be feeling a sense of time running out for him, even though he is still a young man.

It does appear your father’s behaviour is somewhat reckless and perhaps you should be concerned. You certainly don’t want your children to have to experience so many different people coming in and out of their lives. AIDS is a real threat in today’s society, but one that individuals your father’s age may not see as real. They may believe AIDS and other STDs only happen to young people.

My advice to you is to request a meeting with your father, just you and him. Bring along some pamphlets on AIDS and other STDs. He may not read them right away, but just leave them with him. Communicate to your father that you are pleased that he is out socializing, but that you have some concerns about all the women coming in and out of your children’s lives. Hopefully, by bringing these issues to your father’s attention he will understand and appreciate the nature of your anxiety.

However, it is your father’s decision how he chooses to live his life. There is not a lot you can do about many aspects, but you do have control over whether he brings these women to your home. Perhaps you can tell him that you would prefer that he not bring his lady friends to your home until he is involved in a somewhat steady relationship.

You seem to have a loving, caring relationship with your father, so most likely he will appreciate and respect your feelings. He is entering a new phase of his life and hopefully will find a partner to share this special time with him. I hope this information is helpful, Cathy.

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