Dating a Widower with Kids

What to Expect when dating a widower

Dating someone who has been married before and has created a life with someone else before you, is not easy and there are many struggles and challenges that you will face.

Thinking very carefully before entering into this relationship is of vital importance, especially if you have not been married before, or if you have had no children of your own, as you might not get the chance to be married or he might not want to have any more children.

A widower has made a life with someone else and he has been through a wedding, in-laws and has created a family already, so before you start to get serious you need to discuss a future and what you would like before you or he can fully commit.

A widower is even more of a challenge as with everything in life, time is the only thing that can heel wounds.

You need to be sure that he is in love with you and that he is over his wife or ex.

It is also important to understand that there is an external family that will want to share experiences with the children. Grandparents and siblings of your boyfriends late wife will want to stay in contact and there is no option here but to accept it.

Memories of their mother will be important to them and your boyfriend or husband will want to share these with his children so that they will always remember who bore them. This is also something that you will have to accept.

For a widower that was almost divorced before, there might be no hidden feelings but for a man that has just lost his wife, you can be certain that it will take time for him to move on and dating as soon as it has happened will ensure that he is not over his late wife. Should you date him soon after his has lost his wife, your life will not be a happy one as he will always be thinking of his late wife and will want to spend as much time as he can soaking in all the memories, his children will be constant reminders of his late wife and he might still be in mourning, with depressive behaviour and will not show much interest in you or your life.

Children who have Lost A Parent

Children that have lost a parent might display many emotions and act out, after losing a parent. You need to be patient and understand that they are hurting. It is important to know that they might suppress their real feelings and resent you. They will resent you in some way and if not now, later there will come a time where they will hate you and wish for their real mom to be there, instead of you.

Some children cry and scream and mourn right away, letting out all their emotions; anger, rage, sadness and finally acceptance. This is the best way for them to move forward.

Other children hold their emotions in and they move forward but will one day in the future have an emotional outburst, either with resentment towards you or they will behave in inexplicable ways by displaying unusual behaviour in many different ways. They could become distructive or isolate themselves from their peers and home- life.

Kids who are six years and younger will not have much of a problem moving forward as they are too little to understand what has happened but children who are six and up will know what has happened and you will have to face the fact that they will need help with understanding the pain and emotions that they will be going through.

It is of benefit to both the parents and the children to ensure that you have an open discussion about what has happened and how everyone feels. You will need to work through this as a unit in order for your family to move forward and be happy and at peace.

Some families need to speak to someone other than their parents or family and therapy is a good idea to get children who suppress their feelings, to deal with their grief.

Children need you to heal the hurt and let them know that there is hope for the future. You need to let them know that they can turn to you at anytime for any reason, to speak about their hurt.

Adopting Children from Older Ages

It is extremely difficult to take on children that have already been raised by a mom and dad. You are coming into a family that have already built a life and made their set of rules.

Your ideas of raising children might be very different to the way your partner has been doing it and change cannot happen overnight.

If they have been used to doing things in a certain way, it is extremely difficult to change bad habits or create new rules.

As partners you need to know what is expected from each of you and the children in order to build a life and a home together.

A mutual understanding between partners is important and you need to be supportive as well as your partner needing to support you too.

Your family will eventually develop and grow with the rules or ideals from both your backrounds, if you work together.

If you are alone in the way you believe children should grow up, then you are wasting your time as you will never gain any respect and your home will fall apart.

As long as you give love and affection to the children and make them feel that they belong, you will already be halfway there.

The older children remember more and it is important to let them talk about what they remember and allow them the freedom to speak about the past, whenever they feel the need to do so.

You are a parent but at the same time, they already have a mother, even if she is no longer there, she will always be considered their mother and you need to ensure that her legacy continues through to her children.

Give them all the love that you can give.
Give them all the love that you can give.

Becoming Mom to the Little Kids

The younger the child, the easier it is to raise them. They do not understand what has happened and they will not remember much.

It is your job to ensure that they will grow up to know who their mother was and to give them as much information as you possibly can.

Raising the younger ones is a lot easier as they will learn from you and your ideas and family values will be easier to install.

In the beginning, they might be a little moody and cry but this is because they are missing the nurturing, which you cannot give them but as a women, we all have a maternal instinct and all you will need to do, is give lots and lots of love.

Patience is something that you will need a lot of and as long as you try your best to give them all the love that you can, then you will be fine.

What Children Expect from You

If you have come into a relationship before the children have lost a parent then things might be a bit easier for you because they are already familiar with you and might be able to communicate their feelings to you.

You can never expect to take their mother's place and it will be important for them to learn everything about their late mom, they will want to look at photographs, they will want to see home movies and they will also want to stay close to their mother's family.

The children will want information from their father and he will be expected to give them that information freely.

Family of the late wife, might resent you from the very beginning as it is part of their grieving process and they will also be unsure of your intentions with the children.

Having an open communication with them is important so that they can see that you do care and you will love and cherish their little ones.

The children will expect you to give them information about their mother and they will want to be in a loving and understanding environment with people that they can share their feelings with.

Be a mom, someone to talk to and let them know that you are there for them. Help them heal and let them know that there is hope for a future.

Father's who are Widowers

Men do not do things in the same way that women do and most of the time, ensuring that children eat properly, get enough sleep and stay healthy is up to the mother to do.

Father's usually allow their kids to eat sweets whenever they want to and let them go to bed anytime as they do not think maternally. Women understand that if you eat too many sweets you will get sore teeth, if you do not go to bed and get enough rest, you will not be healthy.

With this you need to know that he will feel guilt and the children will be given things and they will be allowed to do anything that they want in order for their father to stop them from feeling sad.

Making rules and taking over from the bad habits that he has formed, will be a very challenging and daunting task as the children will resent you or they will let you know that their father has allowed them to do what they do.

Father's do not really think of the consequences of eating badly, or lack of sleep or even too much television as it has always been left for mom to deal with, whilst dad is at work.

Changing bad habits is something that needs to be done immediately or else it will never change and things might get unpleasant otherwise.

You and your partner need to talk about health and the care that children need so that you both understand from the very beginning.

Your partner also needs to understand that your commitment to him and his family is a huge responsibility and that if you are in it for the long - term, then you have to get the respect as a parent and the support from your partner.

Allow him to give his children what he wants to but there are limits for guilt and it cannot be something that is done too often as this will teach the children that love can be bought and when they act up, they will know that dad will give them what they want.

Give him enough time to help them grieve and eventually talk about things but once they have all settled then it is time to ensure that the children grow up knowing about discipline, respect and love, unconditionally.

If he does not support your efforts by talking behind your back or by allowing his children to treat you badly, then your relationship with him and the children will never work and you will have only frustration and hurt.

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Adoptive or Legal Guardian

When taking on the responsibility of becoming a legal guardian or adoptive parent to your boyfriend or husbands children, you need to know that the road you choose is not going to be an easy one for you.

There will come a time, now or years down the line where the children will wish that you were not around and they will either hate your or accept you, but they will never really see you as a mother figure.

You could be living happily and suddenly find that the children you have sacrificed your own life for, will turn around and acknowledge their father and their birth mother. You might not be mentioned or thanked for being there as a parent.

With this, you must understand that you need to do the best that you can with raising them and even though they will one day knock you down or leave you alone, the concellation will be that you did a great job at raising these children as your own and as long as they are healthy, happy and successful, then that is all you could hope for.

Great Advice for Women Dating Widowers

These points are of great value to you if you are thinking of going out with a widower.

Before you date, you must know whether your partner is grieving or if he is ready to move forward.

You can never replace the children's mother but you can be a goo mom, that will love and care for them.

The family will always want to remember the mother and memories will always come up and be referenced.

Never compare yourself to their late mother

Ensure that there is a mutual respect between you and your partner about how you would like to raise the children.

Give them all the love that you can even though, they might never really appreciate it.

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Comments 14 comments

tamron profile image

tamron 3 years ago

Its not easy being a parent but when you become a parent for someone else kids its even harder especially during the teenage years.

Tashaonthetown profile image

Tashaonthetown 3 years ago from South Africa Author

Absolutely the most challenging thing to face.

sallybea profile image

sallybea 3 years ago from Norfolk

I would think you would have to be absolutely one hundred percent certain that this man is for you before embarking on this journey. Definitely not one for the faint hearted - easier perhaps if the children are younger.

Tashaonthetown profile image

Tashaonthetown 3 years ago from South Africa Author

Yes it is definitely something that you have to think about very carefully before you get into a relationship like that.

duivelijntje 2 years ago

I came across this article on my never-ending search of how to deal with everything that comes around when dating a widower. I recently started a blog on it too, in the hope to channel everything I feel and come across, and share it with people that go through it or have been there (you can find my blog here:

I don't know if the author of this article has gone through dating a widower, and what the circumstances might be, but from where I'm standing it's a very black-n-white view on things.

For instance, I'm 24, my boyfriend is 34. He lost his wife 3 years ago, when their daughter was only a few months old, and I've been with him for 5 months by now.

He has his own business, leaving little time to do the household, so he hires people to do it for him. Except for cooking, which he's pretty good at himself. His wife had a full-time job as well, so it's probably not the pampering he misses (I think this rather applies only to older widowers from a previous generation, where gender roles were more stereotypical).

He never spoils his daughter, if so it's giving her "too many cuddles", if that's even possible. She can't have candy whenever she wants, she even won't get a bedtime-story read to her if she doesn't wanto to brush her teeth (with her dad's help of course). If she doesn't want to eat her vegetables, there's no desert. If she wants to watch TV but it's time for bed, tough luck for her. He only overcompensates on the love he gives her, which might be more than a child that still has both parents would receive from her dad, but there's nothing really wrong in that.

Then, in the first part of your article, you say: "you need to be sure that he is in love with you and that he is over his wife". If you've been through this, I hope to hear how and when you knew for sure, but I find it darn hard to give a conclusive answer to that one.

He will never get "over" her, because it's not someone he wants to forget, and how can you (in any relationship for that matter) know from the beginning he's "in love" with you? At my age and also at his', you can't start dating and when things start to get serious immediately jump into "so, how do you see our future? I will need this and this and that to be happy". It's a process a lot slower than that, and should be handled a lot more carefully than just setting up a game-plan with him.

One thing I've learned so far, is that what he says or feels initially might change, may change back too, but there are episodes and periods of time where the grief and his own insecurity towards a new relationship take the upper hand and he might not be all too sure about sharing that previously discussed future with you. And if you're supportive enough to him AND the relationship, he will gradually switch back to being optimistic about the future. But it comes and goes, and nobody can tell beforehand when the grief or the doubt will kick in again.

If you've been through this, please share how you dealt with it, and how you got the facts straight before it got serious. I think many things actually change WHEN it gets serious. Because that's when my boyfriend is confronted with an actual future with another women, long term speaking, and that's when certain feelings kick in that can be confusing for him and for me. Now it's just ups and downs, and at the moment he even avoids talking about specific things in the future, but keeps on affirming he does want a future with me, he's just adjusting to the thought and discovering his own feelings. What to do with that, I ask...

Tashaonthetown profile image

Tashaonthetown 2 years ago from South Africa Author

I think that if he has told you that he does want a future then that gives you the answer straight away. Don't waste your youth on holding on to someone that has no interest in a future with you and he is kindly letting you know where you stand but he could just be saying that.

If he is adjusting then it is probably a good idea to back away and let him grieve and adjust without you there.

Also if he has been married before and has had a child, the chances of him wanting to do that again whilst having someone supportive and loving, are slim because he has you already and the relationship can go at his pace.

Dating a widower with a child is serious from the beginning especially when the children are old enough to understand.

The grieving process for someone that has spent many years with their spouse takes long for them to go through and during this time they are not fully committed to you, their whole world has fallen apart now, especially because they are solely responsible for the children.

It is good to know that your partner has rules and maintains the responsibility of being a parent.

There are times when he will recall the past as it is going to be a part of his childs future and that you have to accept.

The first thing that you have to do is establish what you are doing there? Is it just for fun and friendship, someone to get him over the bumps or does he actually love you and have genuine feelings for you? You need to ask if the relationship is a serious one and for you, you need to understand that your whole life will change by becoming a parent to the child. It is a huge responsibility and if he is not wanting a serious commitment than time wating is time wasted.

I would have a discussion with him to let him know where you stand and where you would like the relationship to go and see what he says.

Obviously if you have just started dating then take it at a relaxed pace and see where it goes but if you have been dating for a while, then you do need to communicate what you are both expecting.

duivelijntje 2 years ago

Hey, thanks for your reply!

A few things I wanted to clarify; his daughter is 3 years old so she's always been used to "just daddy and her", but she allows me into her life without much of a hassle, she has even started becoming attached to me. She's too young to recall her mother, so I don't think she will give me a hard time on trying to be there for her (without "replacing" her mother of course).

Him and I have been together for almost 6 months, so I would say it's gotten serious. He was married to his late wife, and I'm pretty sure I'd want to be married to him one day, also have a child with him.

The discussion you talk about, to let him know where I stand and where I would like to go, we had that a few weeks ago.

He said that if he just wanted my company, my support and all the physical advantages, he wouldn't have lasted more than 3 months into the relationship before pulling out and moving on to someone else, afraid of the commitment and lack of future. That gives me confidence about his intentions, I am 100% sure he has genuine feeling about me. He just might not be madly in love, because that's an emotion he has litterally shut off in order to cope with what happened and came after his wife had passed.

He looks at things (everything in his life pretty much) on a day to day basis, so he says he wants a future with me yet can't make any long-term future plans yet (moving in together, children or marriage are all things he steers away from and can't give any conclusive response to when I ask him about them). This is because he hasn't fully opened up yet to a longterm-relationship, he admits loving me but not necessarily being "in love". He doesn't like the pressure when I talk about future plans, he wants things to go well at the moment being but doesn't want to get ahead too far. Nevertheless, we do make short term plans often, every weekend we go places, we recently went on vacation to Kenya, so he does do things and make plans ahead, just not too long term.

He is kind of afraid of commitment and falling in love again yet he knows he has to commit in order to continue his life. So he moves back and forth between short-term and long-term commitment. He wants to have a future with me, he just isn't sure how and it scares him too.

I'm being patient but we talk about it often enough so he knows where he stands. He just isn't much of a talker when it comes to emotions, but he says he can't give me any promises on the future, just that his feelings towards me are genuine and that his intentions are good. But it's really hard sometimes not being able to go further and push it until he says the things I really want to hear. I'm letting him be honest and do his thing without neglecting me, and it's worked out so far.

But I am worried that I will be waiting eternally for him to open up completely. I expect many things, he doesn't expect anything at all. But he does embrace pretty much everything that we do and our relationship, he just isn't able yet to modify the life he's established for the past three years to give me a full-time place in it.

I'm constantly torn between "I shouldn't be waiting on him because it might never happen, I want the whole picture and I want to know that I will have it, not just a good, loving relationship with mutual affection" or "he's worth the wait, he's been nothing but honest to me about that he does struggle, and I'm the first partner he has had since his wife's passing that he actually wanted to have a future with. That should be reason enough to keep going".

What are you thoughts on this?

Tashaonthetown profile image

Tashaonthetown 2 years ago from South Africa Author

I think that your relationship is still fresh and there is plenty of time to talk about the future. For now have fun and enjoy each other but without compromising your own future. In time he will be able to commit and be in love but this will take time as it takes more than three years to get over the grieving process and for him to let someone else take over the role of mom, will be a big decision. I personally think that so many complications with going out with someone that has a child, that has been married before and also is a widower. Why complicate your life when you are so young. Leave your options open and try not to get serious because I say that you know if someone you are dating is serious about you and you deserve to be treated as the best thing in that persons life, adored and loved because in this type of relationship he is probably not wanting to commit seriously, especially if he was married before, he is not looking to commit again for a long time.

Tasha111 2 years ago

I have been with my man for 3 years, his first wife died of cancer (very rapidly) 4 1/2 years ago. He is 53, I am 52, his wife was 54 when she died. We started out our relationship very slowly and were friends for over 6 months before we got 'serious' (he felt like he was cheating, so we took it really slowly) Anyway, I eventually met his daughters and granddaughter. Everything went fairly well, even dealing with all the different personalities. The eldest girl, (35) I got on the best with, we would have a few drinks together and talk about absolutely anything..well within reason. She is not his, he adopted her at age 7, she was his first wifes. The granddaughter is painfully shy, but loves me to bits! and I do her too, His eldest girl is 24, and away at uni, we get on really well too, Middle one is 22 and very reserved, I had to tip-toe around her at first, youngest is 20, scatty as hell and I adore her. Anyway, we had discussed it with the family and told them we were going to be getting engaged then married, they all seemed delighted. We got engaged 3 days ago, and, the eldest one (who is the ONLY one who had mentioned marriage....) does not seem at all enthusiastic about it. The other 3 phoned their Dad and me in floods of happy tears, I also got good news about my stage 4 cancer on that day... Just wondering how best to deal with the eldest daughter. Let her come to terms? Have a chat? I don't know. Thanks for listening. J xx

Tashaonthetown profile image

Tashaonthetown 2 years ago from South Africa Author

I am sorry to hear about your cancer and remember to be strong and you will get through it!!!

I think after 3 years and at her age she should be accepting of your happy news and perhaps she feels that her dad is the only link she has left, the fear of you getting married and taking the only parent away might be what she is thinking.

I would sit her down and speak openly about how you feel, that she will not loose her father by marrying and also ask her why she does not seem happy? It is very important to open up and talk.

Let me know hoe it goes.

kat 6 months ago

Is anyone else the wow with teenagers?

I am completely lost in my relationship. I love my husband, I'm fond of the kids.

I feel guilty because I want the kids to go away to school by the age of 20 , have jobs and outside interests.

I entered my marriage with the expectation of having family life until the 14 year old goes to college. After that I want to spend my life with my husband. I don't like being accused of being needy because I want a companion. We have the kids who are 20, 17 and 14, 24/7. They are home the majority of the time as high school becomes less as they get older and college classes can be taken on line. I feel stifled and long for the days when my husband and I can have our home to ourselves for a few hours. Am I very selfish?

Tashaonthetown profile image

Tashaonthetown 6 months ago from South Africa Author

Kat teenagers at home can be very tiring as they are demanding and the house seems to be very small at times but this is having kids and it is good that they are home and not wanting to be away from you as one day it will change and you will be longing for them to come and visit you. I think in every family you need to have a date night with your spouse so that it doesn't feel as though you are only mom and dad all the time. A date night allows you to be a couple where you can talk freely and feel relaxed without having to discuss domestic issues. Plan a night out for the two of you at least once a week so that it is an escape away from home life and you will feel refreshed and appreciated too.

It is also important to keep the kids busy if they are home all the time and get them into routines where they study at a certain time and go to bed at a certain time, allowing you relax time on the couch in peace. Chores are also a good idea as it gives them responsibility which keeps them busy. When you feel that you need a time out, you need to discuss this with your spouse so that it doesn't bottle up and let you explode later on. Organise for the kids to do outside activities as well so that it gives time to clean and do things that you cannot do when they are there. Perhaps a sport or an extra mural activity.

Nani 6 months ago

Thank you so much for your useful insight. I have been dating a widower for 5 months and we already met our respective children from previous marriages. His late wife has passed away 2 years ago and his children are young teenagers. Mines are young adults, both in University. We have been talking about moving together, specially because we live in different cities and, because of the distance, we can only see each other twice a week. We miss each other constantly but when we get together we do many things that we both enjoy: dancing, movies, dinner, spiritual talks, etc. We do not know how to address the big change and we do not want to hurt his children who, already suffered a lot. Do you have a thought you could share with us about how to deal with this complicated issue? Thank you kindly.

Tashaonthetown profile image

Tashaonthetown 6 months ago from South Africa Author

Nani - it is never easy for children when it comes to change. Teenagers can be very difficult especially if they are girls as they will get jealous and sometimes hurtful because they assume you are taking their fathers love away. You need to be honest with them and tell them that you are not there to replace their mother but you will be there to support them and they should feel free to speak about their mother or their feelings. Let them know that you will be there as a parental figure and both you and your partner need to be ready to stand together as one or it will not work at all. The children need to know that you are both strong together and that you love each other as well as understanding that you will both love them too. I think a sit down as a family will be a good idea so that you can discuss what your plans are and let them ask questions if they need to but you also need to make them understand that it is going to happen and that they will be loved either way.

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