My son wasn’t even two years old when his daddy died. I remember a friend coming over to my house shortly after the funeral and saying “You’re the man of the house now.” You should have seen the weight on his shoulders. His little boy frame must have lost two inches in height as soon as the statement came out of her mouth. I knew enough that this was NOT going to happen to my son. He was too little. I don’t care if he was 18, I would not allow this to happen. I responded both firmly and quickly that: “He is not the man of the house. He is a little boy and he needs to be a little boy.” You should have seen the change in my son. He was so relieved!
My role had completely changed. I was not a wife any more. I was now a solo mother of two children. I was now a single woman. I may have to change my roles in life, but it was so important that my children were allowed to be just that: children. This can be harder than we think. Kids have a natural tendency to want to protect their remaining parent. My oldest child, a girl, wanted to step in and mother her younger brother. For his entire childhood, he would wait up at night anytime I was on a date to make sure I got home safe. He was trying to step in as a father. I have had to keep reminding my children that they are not a parent, I am the parent. You are my child. I continued to remind them a decade later.
There are ways that children who have lost love ones have had to grow up faster than other children. They have a wisdom many other children don’t get until they are much older because of the loss. They have had to do more around the house to help out because there is just one parent not two. They have also watched their parent date and have hopefully seen a positive role model for standing up for your values. This can help when they started to date. Through all this they need to live their childhood as children and teenagers-not little adults.
Remember, our children still need to go through their own childhood to get to adulthood. They have already lost a vital part of their life with the loss of their loved one. Their roles change too. If you or your children are struggling with the loss of a loved one, it can be helpful to find a support group or meet with a therapist. I offer therapy in South Fort Collins Colorado.