Gloria and Marilyn’s article, in closing, suggests that you keep the channels of communication open. Dialoguing and sharing experiences requires listening, not necessarily agreeing. Each party needs to be heard and wants to be understood. The challenge lies in working it out in a way that is respectful to family members. The reality is that being gracious takes less psychic time and energy, and you may indeed grow to like, even love, your parent’s new spouse or partner. Family harmony often means only relatively minor changes in long held perceptions or entirely new perspectives that genuinely reflect your own maturity.
Most of the Sandwiched Boomers who have made comments over the past few days tend to concur with these observations. Although some of them struggled with questions such as, Will this person take my place? What will happen to my mother’s treasured possessions or my inheritance? Will I still be special and loved? Yet, despite initial ambivalence, they want their parent to be happy and are relieved that someone else will share the responsibility as their parent ages.
If your family has already made this sort of transition, share your experiences with others who are facing it now. And if you widowed parent is beginning to date, think about what you can do to take care of yourself and still understand your parent’s position. How can you grow to know and accept your parent’s new relationship – and still savor the memories of your parent who has died. By giving yourself permission to be open, it’s a gift to both of your parents and yourself.