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Remarrying with Teenage Children?

Remarrying with Teenage Children?

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Dear Rachel,

I am a 50-year-old man, and I have been widowed for the last two years. My wife and I had a wonderful marriage, but unfortunately, my wife died in a tragic car accident. Understandably, both I and my children (then 12 and 14) were devastated. We will always miss her and no one can replace her, but, I am so lonely. I miss the companionship of marriage. I would like to start dating again, and if I am truly lucky, I will find someone else to marry.

My daughters, now ages 14 and 16, feel very differently. They don’t want me to date or remarry, as they feel that I am replacing my wife. We have grown extremely close since my wife died, so I understand their apprehension of losing that aspect of our relationship. But, I have my own emotional needs that my children cannot and should not fill. Should I start dating, or stay alone? And, if I do decide to start dating, how do I handle it?

Lonely Dad

Dear Lonely Dad,

If I do decide to start dating, how do I handle it?I would like to start by expressing my condolences on your loss. Even two years later, it can still be so hard to deal with. What a terrible tragedy for you and your children, to lose your wife and mother so suddenly, so tragically and so young. I can hear from your letter the love you have for your late wife, and, even though she is gone, that will never go away.

For your daughters, the loss of a mother when so young is especially tricky. Having to navigate the teenage years, with all that entails, without their mother can be very scary and overwhelming.

I am happy to hear that you have tried to make amends by creating a close relationship with your girls. While your girls are benefiting from your close relationship, this is adding to their anxiety about your dating as well. While I am sure that part of their apprehension about you dating again is you “replacing” your wife, deep down they are also struggling with the fear of possibly losing you as well. Now, while I am sure that if you do start dating you will continue to be the loving and attentive father that you are, it is still a scary possibility for them.

You sound very unhappy being alone. This is not surprising, as the Talmud states, “One who lives without a wife lives without happiness.” Additionally, the Torah itself says, “It is not good for man to be alone.” These are two very clear indications that man needs marriage, and should be married. So, how should you handle this?

First, let your daughters know that you are not betraying them or their mother by dating again. Don’t be afraid to express your feelings about your late wife to your children. Let them know that your wife would want you to remarry, and to have someone take care of you and help care for your daughters. You can let them know this on many different levels. Talking with them is always good. In addition, make sure that you continue to spend as much time as possible with them, and continue any and all special rituals the three of you have created.

Respect their wishes as to how much they want to get to know any new woman you may meetWhen you do start dating, let your daughters know that you are going out with someone, and respect their wishes as to how much they want to get to know any new woman you may meet. They may want to meet her right away, or wait to see if things get serious before any introductions are made.

If and when you do find the right woman, make sure she is aware and willing to take on the responsibility of helping to raise your daughters. While she will not be their mother, she will be the only one they have. Someone who will see them as “not my responsibility” is not the one for you. Both you and your daughters deserve someone who will love and care for everyone as a package deal.

Your being a happy person will ultimately make you an even better parent. I believe that if you tread with appropriate caution, dating and finding a new wife will improve everyone’s lives for the better. Best of luck to you.

“Dear Rachel” is a biweekly column that is answered by a rotating group of experts. This question was answered by Beryl Tritel.

Beryl Tritel, MSW, is a therapist with offices in Jerusalem and Ramat Bet Shemesh. She has been living in Israel for over 10 years with her husband and their 5 kids. She also offers Skype sessions. She can be reached at BerylTritel.com.
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jeremy June 30, 2014

sorry for the loss 100 % all respects intended sir, from an only child of a broken situation, now 45 in nyc:

i say wait. join a support group for others involved, keep things separate. its best to wait til nest is empty, however nowadays that's longer than it used to be.
in any shape or form, keep roofs separate.

consider kids trauma/compound trauma, usually ripples an entire lifetime.

after the kids get their OWN LIVES if something finds you, great. you had your lifetime be grateful for yesterday.

no doubt life is brutally tough, however boring it may seem, and it can get boring, finding inner peace is basically as good as it gets.

peace to you brother and i am sorry to hear of such a loss; you must be a strong man to have made it this far. Reply

Lisa Providence, RI February 7, 2014

Widower with teenage children wants to remarry Lonely Dad, you need to tell your daughters that NO ONE can replace their mother, but you don't want to spend the rest of your life all alone. Your teenage daughters need to understand that it's NOT uncommon for people who are divorced or widowed to feel lonely and want companionship. If you want to remarry, don't rush into anything. Many people do this and end up divorced. Reply

Anonymous valley January 21, 2014

Lost I have been dating a 54 year old man for 2 years, I am 48. He has four children with two at home boy 13, daughter 16. He has been divorced for almost 3 year. We would love to get married but he won't because he said his kids don't want him to ever get married and that makes him sad and feels like he will always be lonely but he needs to be a parent to his kids first until they feel comfortable with him marrying (which could mean never). I am so in love with him and want to marry him but feel it will never happen. What should i do? Reply

Anonymous NJ December 26, 2013

In same boat as LD Hi, Im 48 and I was widowed for only a few months when I met a woman incredibly compatible to me. I have two daughters age 18 and 20 and they do not have a problem with me seeing her, but they have made it known that they are not looking to share a home with her (or anyone else). They are quite independent and live away at college for most of the year, but I also dont know how to handle this situation. I would like to get married (and prior to that live together) but I dont want to alienate them.

For now... my only advice is to Enjoy Life! Its too short!

As things progress I will let you know. Reply

Anonymous October 16, 2012

life need to have some one to share, it is good to have suitable partner to fill the life with joy. Reply

Dr. Amy Austin Psy.D., LMFT Rancho Mirage, CA/USA October 15, 2012

Marriage after... First off, I am so sorry for your loss. And, for your children's loss.
The percentage of divorce due to the blending of families is higher than divorce between bio parents. It is most difficult and often traumatic to bring in different DNA into a family. You may love the person, but your kids may not. And, remember that the person you are marrying brings her history and children into the marriage, pften creating contention between step siblings. Parentling responsibilities bring new challenges. Should the step parent discipline or leave it up to the biological parent? There are cases where the children of men visit the home of their father, watching him live full time with his wife's children while they perceive themselves as visitors. I may sound like a bah humbug pessimist, but I am also a realist. My advice? Wait until your girls are 18 and out of the home. This will give them time to grow emotionally, become more autonomous, and be able to handle such a new change in their lives. Reply

Anonymous October 7, 2012

welfare of children your state is very sensitive. home needs a woman to look into care and maintain mental well being. you can discuss/convince your children and choose a suitable partner who can substitute the loss.
good luck. Reply

Simie Brooklyn, NY October 2, 2012

one day at a time I got divorced when my daughter was about 11 years old.At that time she begged that she does not want a new Daddy. However time changes and she sees me being lonely, so today she truly wishes i should get married. So hey you never know what time will bring. For now if you feel you want to date, let yourself be heard and you can practice dating. It doesnt mean you will find one quickly. Take it slowly, date, enjoy it, practice it, and if the right woman appears, you can then involve your children, either with therapy, or you and the woman, or time will tell. But for now do what your heart tells you. Of course make sure the woman knows you want her to be a wife and Mom
Good luck. Hashem will look out for you and your children. Reply

Anonymous Akron, Oh October 2, 2012

Agree with Not Optimistic I have to be honest: My father remarried when I was a teen and it was a very unhappy home life for me from then on. I have always vowed that if something happened to my husband, G-d forbid, I would not even think about remarrying until the kids were grown. The person who is marrying a man with teens doesn't really want the teens, (teens are tough!) but knows the will be grown in a few years. There is no way to know how a stepparent will turn out with teens. my advice: date, but leave marriage for later. The right woman will understand. Reply

Anonymous Yavne''el, Israel October 2, 2012

remarriage with teenage daughters It is truly a difficult situation, one that can be almost impossible. The more you understand the potential difficulties before you set out, the better your chances of success for a second marriage. There must be flexibility on two sides - in your future spouse, and in your daughters. The third party, yourself, must stand firm. In brief, your daughters have come to fill in the position of the female strength in your household. Another woman coming in to your triad will be seen as a threat. Roles and responsibilities within the household will have to be explored, and a non-parental friendship encouraged. My advice is to do all that you can to dispense with the role of parent for the new woman of the house. At the same time, make sure that you keep your wife informed and ask for her input on your parenting decisions. If the girls appear unfriendly or unwilling to accept this woman into their life and into their home, wait. Reply

chaya l. san antonio, tx September 30, 2012

still waiting my condolences on the loss of your wife. losing a spouse and the adjustments one has to make are very difficult, especially when there are children still at home. i lost my husband almost 20 years ago. first because of my children and then the grandchildren, i have been waiting for the right time to begin dating and remarriage. there has been plenty of love and companionship from them throughout the years. however, it is not, and cannot be the same, as that shared with a companion. now 65 years old, i pray that someday i will meet someone to share life with. don't wait to begin - begin NOW. you don't want to look back years from now wondering WHY you didn't. perhaps, a counselor for your daughters would help them understand. also, the woman you choose should first become friends with them. if they see her in that light instead of a threat, they will be accepting. your children will always be there no matter what, who, or when. Reply

Vince Leesburg, GA/USA September 27, 2012

Remarrying With Teenagrs I too am in a very similar situation. I was married for 15 years and went through a divorce and have custody of my children. I have three teenagers and an eleven year old.

I tried several different dating sites and met a myriad of different women. My children never met anyone I met online. Then one day, the most beautiful woman walked into my office by mistake. We sarted to chat and have been in communications with each other at least once a day (4 months and going strong).

Fortunately, my chidren love her and we all go out and do things together. She and her son has definitely been an inspiration to my children and myself. I see light at the end o the tunnel.

Don't give up... I hope you are surprised just as I was. Reply

Frankie ny, US September 24, 2012

Life has to move on I can understand you. I have been widowed for the past 3 years since I lost my wife. It was really a tough time I do not want to recall. I know that life has to move on, then I joined a great dating site for over 50 to to find love, friendship etc. And I met the one for me. I hope this can help. Also be sure to communicate with your children what you really think. they would understand, Reply

Cindy NY September 23, 2012

It might be a good idea to start dating and not introduce them to anyone till you are very serious. Too many people in and out can be confusing and painful for children. Try to be honest with them to a certain degree. You do not have to tell them everything you do. Its not healthy for them. Good luck in your future. Reply

hilary Howard torrance, ca September 23, 2012

to remarry i am a widow have been for 4yrs. i have a 151/2yr old daughter for the first two years she was like that to but now she would like to find someone. Also as she is the only chlld would like to have a sister or brother. Reply

R Narz Saskatoon September 23, 2012

Not optimistic I would seriously recommend that, if you are unable to win support from the daughters, that you remain alone til they are out the door. Reason, if you marry against their will, they will dream up a thousand and one ways of making things difficult.
And of course they would be "jealous" in the sense that they are losing out on the amount of attention they got previously. Reply

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