Many seniors share this problem: their kids just can’t accept the fact their parent wants to date. Although many people might think of this as an act of selfishness, from the kids’ point of view, things do look a bit different.
No matter if you are divorced, or widowed, or you’ve simply never been married to the other parent of your children, the absence of one parent makes the connection between the children and the parent who’s around even stronger. Very often, the roles become completely reversed, and your children live with the urge to protect you, and even parent you. This is not an uncommon situation and many single parents have gone through this stage, especially parents who have become single just recently.
Your kids might be seeing your marriage to your ex (or late) husband as something sacred. No matter how bad it might have been for the two of you, your children see you two as one whole. In cases of a spouse’s death in particular, the children can’t bare the idea of the remaining parent being with someone else. They might think of it as betrayal to their late parent’s memory – this goes especially for the idea of intimacy with someone else. They also might worry your new relationship would occupy too much of your time, and you won’t spend time with them as much as you used to. Also, they might not like the fact some stranger might become important to their mother, and finally, they could be dealing with the fear of losing their mother to a stranger.
Your children might be overprotective about you, they will worry that you might become a victim to some crazy person from the internet, they might worry you could get scammed in any way. It’s not just your potential broken heart they worry about: everything you’ve ever worked for could be taken away by a scammer, and your kids know this.
All of these concerns are downright legitimate, but most often, the truth is your children just aren’t ready for you to meet someone new yet. It is natural for them to be protective, but you need to make sure you and your future happiness are not smothered by your children.
What to do?
First of all, you need to show your children that you are competent. Being a single parent takes more than just taking care of your kids, as you already know. It also means taking care of the house, the finances and everything in between.
Then you need to explain a few things to your children:
- Make sure they understand no one could ever replace them in your heart, or in your life.
- Explain to them how lonely you feel and how much you need companionship. They are probably dealing with their own relationships, and they don’t see you standing in their way. They should follow your lead and do the same thing.
- You need to promise your children that you are going to be careful when you meet someone new, and that you won’t give out any personal information to this new person. Let your kids take you to your first date and let them have a look at the person you intend to date. It will make them feel more in control.
Your kids’ protectiveness is only natural and motivated by nothing but love. Stay calm and try to explain everything to them, let them know they have nothing to worry about. If you think it would help, you can ask a family member to help you out and talk to them about your issue. Seeing a wider picture from a third party might help them realize they’re overreacting.