The following is a summary of a lady's question in another Internet grief support group with my response.
I’ve been spending time with a guy our family has known for some time. Up until now we have kept to zero affection in front of the boys. Tonight my friend pulled me into a hug on the couch and I sat next to him. My son immediately asks “mom why are you sitting with him like that?” (My son is 5)
How do you approach talking to your kids about this? He was 3 when his dad died and I don’t think he remembers seeing Mom and Dad hugging and kissing or any affection. I just don’t know what to tell him or how to explain any of this.
My response :
Honesty is the best policy. Ask him what he thinks about it, but be ready for some push back. Then if you get push back from him do your best to let him know that he is not in trouble for sharing his true feelings with you. I believe our kids need to have a person who they can go to and say anything, within reason of course, and not be judged or get in trouble.
I figured out real fast that I needed something better than sneaking out of the house, like a teenager, to go on a date. My 1st date after loss was with what I call a troll. I had no intention of getting serious with her. I only went out with her to 1) shut my mom up about my uncontrollable crying, depression, etc. When I was 2 months out from loss and 2) I wanted to get the troll to quit bugging me about going out with her. I remember telling my daughter that I was going to the gas station when I was leaving on that get aquainted date. Upon my return home my daughter just smiled at me (instinctively like all women are born to do) and said "so dad how is the gas station ? ". From that point on she referred to this person as the "gas station".
So when I was fixed up on a blind date with what turned out to be my Second Chapter Wife (Tamela) that is where I got to having "check-ins" with my daughter. Initially she wasn't on board with dad dating anyone. But she said she could see that it was good for me and this person (Tamela) made me happy again and have a reason to get out of bed. It took all of the time we dated (14-months) plus another 6-months for my daughter to fully let her guard down with Tamela. Now the Tamela and my daughter would go shopping together and to see them they looked like they were having a great time and they did. But afterwards sometimes my daughter would withdrawal from Tamela.
To Tamela’s credit she took a class at her church on blending a family when we were engaged. There she learned to be ready for push back and possibly never getting full acceptance from my 2-daughters. Also, she learned to keep going back and even after withdrawal episodes (kids grief coming out nothing personal) and just maybe she can have the relationship between my daughter that she had hoped for.
For me it was tough to have this open dialog with my daughter because we all want the best outcome. But I continually reassured her it was ok to say what she was thinking. I was able to relay a lot of the information gained to our grief counselor to help my daughter work through her grief and on top of that "Dad Was Dating" !
I then invited this lady to our group and provided a hyperlink. In the event she takes me up on joining our group let's show her the power in Widville and provide your thoughts on this !