What To Do When Dating With Children Involved
By Tom P Blake - Finding Love after 50
When people become single later in life and decide to date again, often their children have a problem dealing with it and get in the way.
Sue, not her true name, is in that situation and has a dilemma. She and the widower she is dating have many things in common, love one another, and enjoy their time together. But, a 19-year-old daughter of the widower is putting a strain on the relationship.
Sue said, "Our relationship, while great in some ways, has its issues. He feels sorry for his youngest child, spoils her, and doesn't expect her to do much at all, since she lost her mother at age 13.
"While I sympathize for them both, he is doing her and me no favors by treating her like a wounded princess. For this reason, I doubt if we will ever live together. His daughter lives with him, and while she complains about living with him, neither of them seems to be moving in a direction of helping her to become more independent."
Sue feels as if the widower and daughter are married and she's the outsider.
"You have written columns about widowers who have not gotten over the loss of their wife--I think he has processed that--but I think he is not able to let his daughter go through any pain, and spoils her in order to make up for her loss of a mother, which is a different sort of inability to let go," Sue said.
She doesn't want any child to have undo suffering, but sees the daughter as manipulative and lazy. She tries not to comment about the situation, but says it leaves a bad taste in her mouth. Sue has read online that taking care of and spoiling adult children is a common problem with widowers.
"Although my significant other and I have discussed this issue many times, it is a sore spot for us. We both know we can't move forward while his daughter lives with him.
"He talks about he and I living together in the future, however, I predict his daughter will live with him, at least off and on for many years to come, because she does not know how to take care of herself (doesn't clean, cook, work, goes to community college, but after two quarters is ready to 'take a break'), Sue said.
Sue cited specifics: "The daughter uses anger (yelling and swearing), as well as eliciting his pity (crying over small things) to get him to give her what she wants. This lack of responsibility in my significant other's daughter is very difficult for me to accept.
"I have thought about going to counseling on my own to sort out whether to leave or stay with a good man whose way of relating to his adult child is very different than my own-- my adult sons (ages 26 and 29) knew how to cook, clean, and be respectful by their early teens.
"I made sure they learned the basics of caring for themselves as well as a house and its belongings, because I wanted them to eventually be partners/husbands who could effectively pitch in."
So, what is Sue's choice? Either she accepts the situation or terminates the relationship. For now, she stays because of their strong compatibility in other areas.
Sue said, "For now, I am mostly satisfied with what I term a long-term, dating relationship. In most ways that is fine with me, since I have my own house, career, friends, family and hobbies."
Have you experienced problems with children? What would you tell Sue?
More on adult children
A second anonymous woman said, "I've been dating a widower (widowed for 19 months) for four months. He won't tell his children (in their 30's) that he's dating. It bothers me. Should it? Or, should I leave it alone and go with the flow?"
Tom's comment: I told her to go with the flow for now, but tell him that you'd like to meet his family--when he feels comfortable introducing you. One of these days he'll do it--we hope!