Family Relationships

Join other women in the sandwich generation - share ideas and solutions as you learn to nourish family relationships without starving yourself.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The comments from Sandwiched Boomers yesterday were thoughtful and, in some ways, similar. Readers felt uncomfortable initially when their widowed parent began dating - then more positive, seeing them involved and happy. What follows are some tips from Gloria and Marilyn on how you can make this transition a smoother one, for yourself as well as others in the family:

With a life of your own and different priorities than when you were younger, consider what’s really important and allow the small things to fall by the wayside. Establish weekend visits, holiday meals, occasional celebrations, perhaps vacations together in a new way. So what if your parent's choice is not ideal. Be appreciative that someone cares for your father. Consider these suggestions:Try to put yourself in your parent’s shoes and consider how difficult it might be for them, caught in an emotional tug-of-war between their new love and adult child.

Don’t put your parent in the position of having to choose between your love and that of their new mate when both are important to their sense of well-being.

Don’t discuss issues such as family inheritance, your late parent’s possessions, and your feelings of being pushed aside by their new love.

When you're angry, try to understand where your feelings are coming from so that you can calmly discuss your concerns with sensitivity and caring.

Keep reminding yourself that your parent is an adult and has the right, and smarts, to choose their new mate.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your ideas make sense but, in real life, when faced with a heartbreaking situation, it's hard to turn the other cheek. My father remarried a much younger woman who was divorced for the third time. Of course he was lonely and infatuated. But once she moved in, took over the finances and sold most of what my mother intended for me, I was so upset. I stayed in touch for my father's sake but it was very painful. Linda

9:44 AM  
Anonymous Gloria Lintermans said...

Comments thoughtfully posted on this subject have been terrific and will, I'm sure, help others. I applaud readers support for their widowed parent and, Linda, your ability to "stay in touch for my father's sake but it was very painful". My heart goes out to you upon discovering that your father's new wife "sold most of what my mother intended for me, I was so upset."

Please allow me to remind everyone reading this important blog that my book, THE HEALING POWER OF LOVE: Transcending the Loss of a Spouse to New Love, by Gloria Lintermans and Marilyn Stolzman, Ph.D., L.M.F.T.(ISBN 1-932783-51-2) shares the experience of twelve new and loving relationships of twenty-four widows/widowers; the problems and pitfalls, honestly told. The book is affirming of both life and love and would be very helpful not only to someone coming out of mourning who feels the need for a meaningful relationship in their life, but to you, their adult children wanting to understand their parent's needs and challenges.

11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At first when my father started dating, I was very upset. As I began to see that he had grieved his wife respectfully and it was the second year of mourning, I began to feel happy for him that he had found an activity partner. Later, when the relationship grew to be more serious, and I could see that he was happy and moving on with his life, I was able to express more joy for him and was pleased that he had found someone that met his needs and he was enjoying his life and was less lonely. Anonymous

1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My new husband and I, our relationship shared as one of the couples in Gloria Lintermans' book, THE HEALING POWER OF LOVE: Transcending the Loss of a Spouse to New Love, have been very fortunate with our children's responses to our marriage. I know that ours is an unusual circumstance and I am very grateful for the acceptance that we have received from our families. My husband is my ex-brother in law, my late sister's husband. Throughout our lives our two families have been close. Although we lived in different cities, we brought up the children to be close and loving cousins. My husband died first, and then, a year later, I lost my sister. My "new" relationship with Pete grew slowly, after we both had mourned the loss of our spouses. When I asked my nephew how he felt about "us" he said, hugging me, that he was the only person he knew whose "stepmother" has known him all his life--to which I responded--I'm not your "stepmother"- I will always be "Auntie Judy"- and that's what Pete's children and grandchildren call me.

Our relationship is great and I am grateful! As for my children, the first words that came out of my son mouth when we told them were "Uncle Daddy!!!"---"Auntie Mommy and Uncle Daddy" were names that our children came up when they were growing up-----after which he opened up a bottle of champagne. There are always hugs of greetings and good-byes both with my children and Pete and my grandchildren. He is "Poppa Pete" to my daughter's children and "Uncle Petey" to her. They remember his birthday and/or send a card. The same goes for Father's Day.

Today we are gratefully one big family, yet we will always cherish the memories of my late husband and sister - Pete's late wife.

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I lost my mother at the age of 35 and I never had to deal with the feelings that my father's second wife would take her place. I was not looking for another mother. However, I was not prepared for the changes in my father and his relationship to our family. I was disappointed with his choice and I realized a similar dilemma that many parents face when their children select their mates. I never really accepted my father's wife with open arms but I came to understand how her life's experiences shaped her character and behavior. I always wished he had chosen a different type of person, someone I could love and be close to...someone that would have kept me closer to him. But life takes unexpected turns and twists and it is important to roll with the punches. barbara

10:14 PM  

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