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I Want to Date but my Kids Say “No!”

senior woman workingThis was an email I recently received from a reader named Shirley:

“I am 72 years old, and have been on my own for five very lonely years since my husband died.  One day, after seeing all the commercials showing happy couples who found each other on online dating sites, I decided to take a look at what this was all about.”

“I met a few nice men (of the right age) but one in particular really is someone I could see myself starting a relationship with.  I am not looking to jump into anything serious like marriage, but I think it would be so nice to have someone to go out with.  I miss that companionship.  The problem is that my son and daughter are totally against it and I have purposely held off on meeting this man because of my kids.  He is very patient and understands, but I can’t expect him to wait forever for me to sort out these issues.  I know they are just being protective, but I am not a child.  What can I do?”

Well Shirley, this is not an uncommon problem (believe it or not!).   Let’s take a look at why you find yourself in this situation, from your kids’ point of view.

The death of a parent oftentimes makes the kids’ relationship with the surviving parent even stronger.  The roles can completely reverse because your kids feel the need to parent and protect you through this stressful time in which you are all adjusting to life without your partner and their parent – the one who took care of you before.

They likely see your marriage with your late husband as something almost sacred. The idea of you even wanting to consider a relationship may be (in their minds) a betrayal to their father’s memory – especially the idea of any intimacy between you and someone else.  They may also be worried that a new relationship will occupy too much of your time normally spent with your family and that they would ultimately lose their mother to a stranger.

They will worry that you will become prey to the crazies and scammers on the internet. That nice little nest egg that you and your husband took a lifetime to grow together could be gone in a heartbeat if someone wants to take advantage of you.  It’s not just your heart that could end up broken. They might worry that you could become totally dependent on them financially if this were to happen.

These are all legitimate concerns that children have, but the truth is that they probably just aren’t ready for you to meet someone, even though you are. Their protectiveness is natural, but it is your job to ensure that you and your future happiness are not smothered by it.

First you need to show them that you are competent. And you can do this, assuming you have managed practical details (finances, home and car maintenance, medical visits, friendships, food and shopping etc) capably and responsibly since your husband died.

Then you need to explain to them that no one could ever replace your husband and that you feel some companionship would take away the overwhelming feeling that you are facing your own mortality and the resulting loneliness that you have been feeling since he died.  They need to know that all their lives you have been concerned with their happiness and now this is what you need for your happiness.

You need to promise them (and stick to it) that you will be on your guard about giving out any personal information or money, have them take you to meet him for the first time (if he is a good guy he will not only understand but appreciate their concern for you), and reassure them that any relationship you would ever consider would never exclude your family and certainly never interfere with the special time that you spend with them.

Your family has been by your side for a very long time and their protectiveness is natural and motivated by love. If you are having a very difficult time making your argument, try eliciting the help of a respected family member, long time family friend or even your family physician. An outside opinion may help them see the bigger picture.

Remember this is completely uncharted territory for your children to see you with someone other than their father. It may take some time, but these tips should help ease the tension with your kids so that you can begin dating and start enjoying your life again.  Good luck Shirley!

5 Responses to “I Want to Date but my Kids Say “No!””

  1.  Anthony Trevellick says:

    Hello, I look on this problem as complete selfishness on the children’s part. First of all if the Parent is over 70 the children are well into adulthood and should have the wisdom to know better. Secondly it is none of their business…period!
    It’s about time siblings put their own feelings on the back burner and looked to future happiness of the parent who has needs the same as they do.It’s not as if they are in their teens(then your advice would be appropriate) or that the Father died a short time ago….Shame on them.

    Posted on 16-May-13 at 11:02 am | Permalink
  2.  C L T says:

    You are assuming that because she thinks they are nice people they are. Sure it’s nobodies business but if your family doesn’t like someone or has valid reasons maybe you should consider what those reasons are. You can do whatever you want but when you isolate yourself by not settling issues with family before adding a new member yog may cut off your face dispite your nose. Maybe your family doesn’t want one to be without a partner but maybe they aren’t as blinded by love as the one in it.

    Maybe one is just assuming they don’t want the mother today’s because the father is past. Maybe who they have chosen really aren’t good guys. We only have one side of the story in this case.

    Posted on 10-Jun-13 at 3:15 pm | Permalink
  3.  jim dunham says:

    Maybe they really care, but the smart thing to do is NOT fight
    moms idea, go along with it, then if mom finds someone get to know that person do things with him or with him and mom, then you will know what he is really like, but go into it as a neutral, get info before you make a decision, Moms and Dads all
    need companionship don’t kill it in the bud, Let her live…
    Let her live happily, grow op, wake up, Bin there done that

    Jim Dunham 76 single, lonely in Meaford Ont. Can.

    Posted on 26-Nov-14 at 9:45 pm | Permalink
  4.  Martin Lyons says:

    I can understand the Shirley’s kid’s point of view, because my dad who is in his late 50’s is in the same boat. He is planning on bringing a Russian woman over to the house at the end of the month, he speaks to her on a dating site, to which he wont even tell me what the site is, so I have no idea if it is safe or not. He has only been speaking to her with three weeks and already she is coming over soon. I’m not too happy about it, Id say something if he had met this woman in a bar. The whole thing makes me feel uneasy.

    I have warned my father to be aware of the possibility the woman could be a scammer or a gold digger, just looking for money, and that he must not give money if she asks for it!

    I understand Shirley wants to move on with her life and meet a new person, as does my father. She must understand to be aware , none the less, I hope everything works out for Shirley and the man she is meeting is genuine!

    Posted on 21-Jun-16 at 8:51 pm | Permalink
  5.  Evie Allen says:

    Jim, appreciate your smarts! Having reached a certain age does not mean anyone male r female has suddenly gone totally stupid. Sadly our children fail this see our loneliness especially if we are hiding it behind pasted smiles and make work. An Army Brain, I grew up in the company of men. The conversation of males who can find their way out of town and back again is more enjoyable for me than chit chat with the knitters and like. Sadly have now been alone some 14 yrs and recently discovered am bit too independent! Seems it was off putting when I failed to stop and wait for doors to be opened, an order given directly to a server, etc. Best Friend late husband taught me not to be helpless when on the road or with a crisis at home and fear those lessons are too well engrained today. Thankfully my children sometime express health concern for extended road trips but trust my judgment in meeting and reading people.

    Evie, age 76, outside metro Atlanta, GA

    Posted on 06-Aug-16 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

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About This Site

Kathy Damer studied Sociology at University and has worked as a marketing executive in the Retirement and Senior care industries for many years. Kathy has a deep understanding of the issues unique to senior dating and relationships and has been featured on the radio.

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