Dilemma: my son won't accept my new girlfriend

Katharine Whitehorn / 12 January 2016

Agony aunt Katharine Whitehorn hears from a widowed reader who wonders how he can encourage his son to give his new girlfriend a chance.



Dilemma: unnaccepting son

Four years ago my wife died after 44 years of very happy marriage. Some time after, I met a lovely woman, also widowed after a happy marriage, and we have been together ever since.

I have three sons; two of them live in Australia. However, my eldest son here in the UK will not accept my new girlfriend and refuses to meet her. 

This has made me very unhappy and I cannot see an end to this problem.

Katharine Whitehorn's advice

I don't know if it will help you understand why your son is acting this way, but I'm afraid it's common enough.

He sees you as replacing his beloved mother with another woman and he probably doesn't realise – because no one who hasn't been been through it usually does – how to you it was a 'short' time after; how the weeks and months after you've lost the person you love seem to stretch endlessly on and on.

But he may come round, given time. I have a friend who married a widower and his grown daughter actually wept at the wedding, but they get on well now – now that the rawness of losing a mother has worn off, and the daughter has got to know her.

I think you have somehow to engineer a meeting, so the 'new lady' ceases to be a spectre and becomes a person. Do your other sons ever visit, so there could be an unmissable family event? Or perhaps a friend could set up an apparently impromptu meeting?

In the meantime, you have to reassure your lady that it's nothing personal to her, and guard against letting your son split you up. 

Joanna Trollope's novel Other People's Children has a devastating account of how a daughter manages to wreck any budding relationship of her widowed father; you mustn't let your son do the same to you.

Read our guide to when your children won't accept your new partner.

Our readers say...

We also asked our Facebook followers for their advice...

"Tell him he is very selfish and your friend isn't out to replace his Mum but you need companionship after her loss ,after all you have been through I would never put my sons in this situation they would want me to be happy."

"Don't put him first, children don't think of us they will do what they want xxx"

"Don't try, but don't let him win or you'll be lonely for a long time."

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