Suzanne cared for her ailing husband for five years before his death. Now, the 75-year-old widow is falling in love again. But her grown children strongly object. What if this guy just wants Mom’s money? How can they talk marriage when we’ve never met him?
Many adult children bristle, at least initially, at their parent’s remarriage or talk of later-life matrimony. After losing a parent to death or divorce, the introduction of a stepparent to the family can be unnerving because of a shift in roles within the newly blended family. Adult sons and daughters may want to over-protect their single aging parent when it may be time to loosen expectations.
Here are a few cues adult children can follow when their elderly parent remarries:
- It is OK for some family traditions to change. Keep an open mind about what the new stepparent may bring to favorite everyday and holiday family customs.
- Give the new marriage some space and time. As with any newlyweds, be sure to allow older parents room to set up their new home and schedule … their way.
- Talk about the sensitive issues of finances, inheritance and care decisions. When the time is right and emotions are calm, initiate a conversation with your parent about the monetary and health aspects of the remarriage. Review the Right at Home RightConversations guide for tips on how to communicate clearly and well.
- Keep the grandchildren involved with both parent and stepparent. Allow the grandkids to develop their own relationship with their new grandparent. Kids often teach the adults about acceptance and flexibility in relationships.
As family members adjust to the new marriage, good can come from the original turbulence of trust. Learn to embrace even the little ways the new stepparent offers endearing love and companionship to Mom or Dad and brings fresh vitality to the family.
What are some things adult children should consider when a parent remarries?
An award-winning journalist who has documented stories in nearly 20 countries, Beth Lueders is an author, writer and speaker who frequently reports on diverse topics, including aging and health issues for both U.S. and international corporations.