December 7, 2010
Since your mother died a year ago, your 77-year-old father has started dating a widowed family friend. You'd like to know more about what's going on, but how do you begin the conversation?
If you want to introduce the topic, a gentle inquiry like the following would be fine: "So it seems that you've been seeing quite a bit of 'Fran' recently." After this, you should probably see whether your dad wants to share additional information. If he doesn't, that's his prerogative. One exception would be if you have some information that there is abuse or exploitation in the scenario. For instance, if you sense that your dad's love interest may be taking advantage of him financially, some additional probing might be justified, depending on the specifics. If your dad has money and this friend doesn't, and suddenly the friend shows up driving a new luxury car, you might ask your dad, "Do you know who bought her that car?" If the friend moves in with your dad and a lot of new things appear around the house, which don't fit your dad's style, you might ask, "This doesn't look like your kind of thing, Dad. Did you buy this?" Otherwise, be happy that your dad has a girlfriend and don't force him to disclose more than he's comfortable telling you.
Research: Nearly half (47 percent) of adult children are "not very" or "not at all" comfortable speaking to their moms or dads about their parents' romantic lives.
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