My mother has been a widow for 12 years and, over the years, I have seen her date different men who always break her heart. I think it is just about to happen as she is in love with a married man. His wife and other people know about it and, according to her, he is in the process of divorcing his wife. However, it does not seem so as he always goes back to his wife even after spending days at her place. I am worried about her because she is so vulnerable and lonely but I know where this will end. I want to help but I don’t know how. I am 29, her only son and I have my own young family. Please advise me.
What the readers say:
I know how you feel for your widowed mother. The first step is to encourage your mother to go for HIV/Aids testing and see a family counselor. Encourage her to join groups for widows -- the kind found in places of worship and other social forums. It might be difficult for you to give any directives to your mum so you could also talk to a maternal uncle or aunt (not her in-laws please), or a religious leader to talk to your mum about all these suggestions.
Onyango Outha ?
Kevin, you are in a very confusing situation. You could be right but this matter is not for you to deal with. Engage other people to deliver this message to your mum, not you, brother. Love life is often confusing. What is good for you may not be good for others and vice versa. In life, never expect anybody to think and see things as you do. We are all different with divergent views of life. Engage your mother’s sisters or other maternal aunts, if any, to handle this. Bringing up this topic with your mother will amount to lack of respect for her. Be cautious about everything.
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At your age, you cannot talk to your mum about her ‘boyfriends’; she may get nasty enough to remind you to concentrate on your own family. Secondly, now that she doesn’t share with you her heartbreaks, you may be seeing what is in your mind but not what is on the ground so look at it again to be sure. Thirdly, if she doesn’t seem to learn from her past mistakes, assuming your observation is true, then involve her best female friend but remain very discreet since this is not your war. If this fails to work, she is your mother but she has her social life.
Dear Kevin, your mother may be undergoing what we call emotional loneliness being that her lifelong companion (your father) had gone to be with the Lord. Feeling lack of companionship is something all may experience at some point in our lives. In case you have had a close relationship with your mother and you normally confide in each other, then it may be easy to share with her the importance of staying safe to avoid heartbreaks. If not possible, seek professional intervention by linking her with a counselor.
Rev Willis Atoyo?
A mother and a son have a unique bond, the reason why your mom’s situation is weighing heavily on you. However, this is a delicate and sensitive matter for you to raise with her.
You have rightfully noted that mom is vulnerable. The loneliness and the subtle hostility widows face can push her to desperation. It is hard to fully understand what she goes through. I hope your feelings spring from a genuine love for her and not from a selfish point. Remember she still needs to be loved and this is the need that the wrong people are exploiting.
I would encourage you to use a close relative to pass this message to her. This has to be a person mom considers sincere and empathetic. Otherwise it would be difficult for you to do it. We are not cultured to give advice upwards or rather to our elders particularly in matters of relationships. Give all your opinion and sentiments to this person and let them be your mouthpiece. Through this person you can let your mom know that you do not mind her being in an honourable relationship.
I would also ask you and your siblings, if you have any, to be close to her. If you are all concentrating on your own young families she might feel that no one cares and therefore her actions do not bother anyone. Involve her in your lives. Let her know that she means so much to you. That demands accountability from her side and could potentially bring drastic changes on her conduct.
I do not know what she does to keep busy but you can suggest additional activities such as a business or hobbies. Do not underestimate the power of being preoccupied and how it can streamline one’s life.
Hilda Boke Mahare has a background in Counselling Psychology