As a parent, one of the things I’ve often learned the hard way is how much your kids watch and imitate your behavior. For example, the other day my 9-year-old son blurted out a mild swear word when he got upset. Where did he learn that from? Uh, that would be me. I don’t swear a lot but occasionally when I get upset I let that mild swear world fly. My son was just imitating what he had heard Dad say when he gets angry. That wasn't my proudest moment as a father and since then I've a conscious effort to stop using that word when I get mad.
So what does this have to do with dating a widower?
Many of the widowers, GOWs, and WOWs who read this blog have kids of their own. Whether they’re young and living at home or adults with lives of their own, they watch how their mom or dad interacts and treats the significant other in his or her life. If they see their Mom being treated like second place and putting up with it all the time, what kind of lessons are they drawing from that? If they watch Dad go through a series of relationships with women he’s crazy about one day and could care less about them the next, what kind of impressions are being made? Then there are teens and adult kids who are allowed to treat the new squeeze in their father’s life like crap. What kind of lessons are they drawing from that?
I’m not saying that your kids should only see should be roses and sunshine when it comes to mom’s or dad’s love life. No relationship is perfect. Rather, what’s the overall message that the kids are learning from the way you treat your significant other and how are they incorporating these lessons into their own relationships. If they see the two of you argue, do they also see the two of you apologize to each other? Do they see you treat your significant other like the number one person in your life or like someone who will never quite be good enough. Don’t underestimate what conclusions they’re drawing from your behavior that will affect the way they behave in their future or current relationships. Just like when my nine-year-old swore the other day, you may learn too late just what kind of influence you've actually had on them until it’s too late.