Dear Barb—Take a Second

Dear Barb:

I have been dating this great guy for six months.  He has two young children and is a widower who lost this wife two years ago.  I have met his children and we have gone on a few outings.  They are not very receptive to me and tend to cling to their dad.  I tried to reach out to them, but they basically reject me.  Initially I was reluctant to date a widower; I had heard stories about widowers just looking for a replacement for their late wives and mother for their children.  We talked about this and Dan assured me that he loved his wife and always will, but he is ready to move on.  Recently we began to discuss a future together, but he does not want to cause upset to his children.  I fear if I keep reaching out to the children, it is going to make them retreat further.  We want to eventually have our own children and create a happy family for everyone.  Do you have any suggestions on how we can make this transition easier for everyone? Thanks, Miranda.

Hi Miranda:

Dating a widower brings up a lot of different issues, especially since haven’t been married and do not have children of your own.  It is very important that you make sure he is over the loss of his wife.  The stories you’ve heard come from something that happens in reality, after all.  Even if he has though, his late wife will still be in his thoughts and it’s important that he keep her memory alive for his children.

But if he is still in deep mourning, he most likely will not be able to fully commit his heart to you.  As well, when there are young children involved you will have be open to the possibility of his late wife’s family wanting to be a part of the children’s lives.  There will be grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins who need to be included in your lives to a certain extent.  You will have to be patient with the children; they have just lost one of the most important people in their lives and it will take time to adjust.  Don’t try too hard, because they will sense that.  Just be there and allow them to come to you.  They may feel resentment that you are there and their mother is gone.  Depending on the child, they may act out, or they may keep their feelings inside until they erupt over something little.  A family therapist or grief counsellor would be helpful as many other issues will arise if you do choose to have a future together and bring children of your own into this relationship.  Thanks for writing Miranda.

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