My mother, late-60s, was widowed ten years ago. My parents had enjoyed a very happy marriage.
She’s attractive, fit, still works professionally, and travels. My father left her well off and she’s always had her own earnings, too.
Four months ago she met a man, 70, also widowed. He lives a continent away. They’ve seen each other twice in his country for five days total, when she visited our family there.
They plan to live six months in each of their cities.
She says it’s her last chance at having love and companionship, and I should trust her judgment.
But I’m worried that if it turns out badly, it could bring huge stress and affect her health.
How is a son supposed to protect and advise his mother?
It’s natural to want to “protect” her, but so long as she seems comfortable and certain, show interest, not alarm.
Get to know him through her – asking about his friends and close family, plus his work and life in his community.
If she has few answers, that’s a concern. Connect with him through Skype, along with her. Encourage both that he visit your city and her close people soon, before rushing the wedding plans.
It’s also fair to ask your mother what she knows of his financial state, just as he’s entitled to know hers.
Stay close and supportive during this time, in case either of you see red flags to question.
When I was a baby, my mother decided that staying home while her husband worked in another country, was not for her.
She left me with my grandparents who were loving but strict and raised me with old-fashioned values.
They also encouraged my becoming independent so I could always look after myself.
Fourteen years later, my mother returned to our city and expected to “raise me.”
It didn’t work. We clashed continually.
I left home as soon as possible and have worked and educated myself since age 17. My grandmother backed me on choosing my job path and said I should follow my own heart and mind.
I married, had two children, later divorced, but have an excellent job and a solid relationship with my two adolescent children.
But some people say I missed out by not growing up with my mother.
My ex-husband, who cheated on me repeatedly till I finally walked out, says it made me too strong-minded to be a good mother.
But my kids are doing well at school, still talking to me about things, still wanting hugs.
What’s your take on my being able to be a good mother when I didn’t have mothering from mine?
On My Own
It’s healthy for any parent to occasionally question how they’re doing, but the important fact here is that you had solid parenting from your grandparents.
They exemplified the best values - by taking responsibility for you, and instilling good values.
They also showed trust and confidence when they encouraged your being able to manage your own life.
They didn’t let you feel rejected. Instead, they always had your back.
While it’s important to have a checklist on how your kids are doing, yours sound fine so far.
If your ex is co-parenting with you, be open to discussing where he thinks you and he can cooperate to do better.
But if he’s just being critical due to bitterness/anger, carry on doing your best at what’s working.
FEEDBACK Regarding the man whose mother in-law instigates his divorce (Oct. 18):
Reader – “You mention that the wife will need to explain the grandmother’s interference to their son who misses his father.
“But why is it “the father” who must suffer the loss of the relationship?
“I hope that society and the legal system still don't assume that the mother’s always the best option for the child.”
Ellie – Good point. However, it was the father’s information:
“Each of the three times she’s visited, my wife asked me for a divorce. When she leaves, my wife wants me back….
“My world and my son's world have been torn apart.”
It seemed clear the father did end up leaving and the boy did stay with his mother (though likely with paternal access).
This should NOT be a foregone conclusion. Rather, the best interests of the child should be the family court’s deciding factor in custody, access, and support issues.
Tip of the day:
If an older parent’s suddenly rushing into a new marriage, ask questions rather than overreact.