Grief is such a complex soup of pain.
Grief can make EVERYONE more self-centered for a while. EVERYONE, including parents. And kids. It is like a large, mortal wound - how can you be clear thinking and focus outside of yourself much when it is bleeding and throbbing. Maybe this is where families can sometimes get into trouble, in that they have all acted differently and self-centered after a loss and as things settle out in a different pattern there can be some issues that arise.
I was 12 when my father died.
Please know that these ages are some of the hardest to lose a parent - hard because there is a dance between independence and dependence going on that is now misshapen by a shocking short circuit. It is not your fault - but it is not their fault either.
Ultimately, I would have been happy if my mother would have found someone that worked for her. I was old enough to understand that she had a lot of living beyond me to do.
I do not mean this to make anyone uncomfortable, but honestly? I probably would have preferred that she wait. I am not sure for how long, but it was already a lot to cope with and if she added more discretionary confusion onto that, I would have resented it. I was not as sophisticated in dealing with my problems like an adult, even if I looked like an adult. I probably wanted a couple years.
To be honest, I would be embarrassed and uncomfortable at the behavior around the dating - the giddy sexy silly mushy stuff. You have to admit that new dating behavior is often more amped up than seasoned married behavior, which is how they are used to seeing you. But, at that age everything your parent does might be embarrassing, so.
As a child, I was receiving less physical affection because my father was gone - it is just a natural byproduct of a parent dying. It hurts to see the surviving parent getting their affection needs met and I still have less affection in my life.
All widow/ers talk about how hard it is to see couples. Can you understand that it is the same for children of a certain age? Believe me.
There are no easy wins in this scenario. It is not a situation built for easy solutions - all solutions now will be costly in one way or another.
I think adults must build their lives and not do things out of guilt, BUT your kids deserve for you to meet their pain half-way. Only you can judge if you have or not.
I was concerned that the life that I used to have, now gone - was being replaced - and with it my relevance was being replaced.
After the death the surviving members often need to start to reshuffle roles. Teens often move into a closer adult role to cope with the missing parent - and then later asked to return to an old role or a side role. It does not feel good.
I turned to early dating and having boyfriends for the lack of attention and male physical affection in my life after my father died. They were more than happy to cooperate. Luckily, I had boundaries that did not make that a complete disaster.
I hope this reflection from my past and it's challenges might give one person insight.
A&M, your insight is incredible, thank you. I immediately copied this and sent it to my boyfriend who is an very kind man who cares about my kids alot. One of the things you said struck me especially and that is about how a child receives less physical affection after one parent dies. My son has always been the more huggable kid and he comes looking for it, my daughter much less so. But I think I'm going to try to focus on giving her more affection, because I know she is missing that from her dad. That was a good point.
I am not physically affectionate with my BF in front of my kids. We laugh a lot, and talk a lot, but I am very wary of touching him in front of the kids. I had wondered if this was the right way to go, but your words make me feel like I'm on the right track.
The idea of meeting the kids pain half way is a very good one.
Thanks for this great and helpful response.
A & M, I see that what you have written is from your heart, and I appreciate your ability to convey such strong and personal emotions.
I understand what you say, and have been trying to be as considerate as I can be to the needs of my teen daughter. It is a delicate balance at best. She was also 12 when her mom passed and we had a full year of just the two of us before any of her sisters returned. She is and will be my main consideration for a long time to come. I make sure that I do alot of the things you were saying. I think I am on the right track, but your insight is invaluable and I have learned something else every time I re read it.
Thank you again, Floyd
maybe try not introducing him so early next time. I think girls long for the male figure.. I can see her having issues if she is hopeful that the male figure will be replaced and then is not. So hard to know when the right time it. (hug) on that.
Wow, no one has made a comment on this in nearly 2 years. Is no one dealing with kids that cannot accept their parents moving forward in their lives with someone else? I have a 23 y/o that refuses to accept that I am dating, says he will never want to be around him or his child (my grand child) be around him. My husband raised him since he was 4 years old but my son always spoke poorly of him to my mother off and on for years and all of a sudden now, he cares that I found a really nice person. My son works away often, when he returns to our home town, he got rid of his apartment and wants to come home. I want him to come home because I want to see him and my grand baby. But, he refuses to come here when my "guy" (I HATE the term boyfriend too!!) is around. So, what do you do? And, when do I put my foot down and say "he is not leaving tonight, you need to find a place to go". My "guy" is very hurt and is beginning to loose his patience with my son's behavior towards me and his lack of respect and I am just confused with how to deal....
You can read my posts below. I am also dealing with my kids being rude to my boyfriend. They are younger at 18, son and daughters are 16 and 12. I have been dating the same guy now for almost two years and it may be over by next week. I tried to have us all together for xmas and it ended up in a disaster. I do not want my kids to dictate my love life and at the same time I want to acknowledge their feelings and their needs. My boyfriend has since given me the silent treatment which I hate. Talking to him on the phone is like pulling teeth. He has been this way since I last saw him new years day. When we spent new years eve together it was all fine. That was after the trip. We were alone. Anyways…feel free to comment!
Wow! I hope this is still an active discussion as it has been a huge battle with my kids. They have not been very supportive of me dating at all. I will be widowed four years this Feb. and not much has changed. What has changed is I fell in love almost two years ago with a wonderful older Italian man. I really took my time to have the kids be introduced to him and spend much time with him. I wanted to make sure everyone was ready. Well… the first time he stepped onto my driveway my youngest already said something rude right at the gate! My kids are now 18, 16, and 12. This xmas my parents invited the whole family, my sisters etc,. to the Turks and Caicos for xmas and to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. My kids have spent some time with my boyfriend, and we traveled to Los Angeles to see family together for my birthday last April. That was an eye opening experience but I thought we all came out better for it. Think again… So this big trip approaches and my parents kindly let me invite him to come though they have only met him a few times. During the trip my kids were not very nice….really the girls…and esp the youngest. Fortunately they had their cousins to spend most of their time with. but, it left my boyfriend distant and at the end…unwilling to have dinner with the whole family the last night we were there. He proposed to me before the trip and I accepted. When I told my parents, they were less than supportive and no one in my family seemed very happy for us. It was never brought up at any toasts or topics for the rest of the trip. Now…my fiancee is refusing to talk to me and has given me the silent treatment since I last saw him. I live in Napa and he lives in Marin, 45 min away. I did spend new years with him and it seemed to go ok but I told him that I had to stay home with the kids this weekend and Ive got the silent treatment since I left him on new years day. I do not want my kids dictating, nor my family, my love live. I am depressed, bummed, and totally frustrated.
signed…completely ignored. Kirsten