Dear Amy: I am in my 60s and have been a widow for four years. My daughter misses her father very much. I have been dating a very nice man (divorced, my age) for more than six months. My daughter says she is happy for me. She likes my "boyfriend" but says she doesn't want to see me with him at too many family events because it makes her cry to see me with another man. I told her that I respect her feelings, but he makes me happier than I have been and I don't want to leave him at home.
Please offer me your sage advice, Amy. I am willing to be patient, as we haven't been dating for very long, but I sincerely believe we could be together for the rest of our lives.
— A concerned mother
Dear Concerned: First you need to truly understand, deep down, that your daughter is responsible for managing her own feelings. Then you should hold her hand and spend time sitting with her at your kitchen table — talking, going through photos and reviewing memories of your family's life together, so that she knows that this is what she owns, and this loss is what she must come to terms with.
Her past (and the past you two share) belongs to her. This is unchanging and resolute. Your future (and hers) belongs to each of you as individuals.
Your patience and understanding will help her. However, you should not give in to her emotionally loaded demand that you not include your partner in family events. You can tell her, "I understand that you are sad. I realize this is hard for you, but I trust you to find a way to handle this. You can do it."
If she is struggling beyond her ability to handle it, you should offer to attend a session with a grief counselor with her.
Dear Amy: I followed your advice on giving books for the holiday season this year.
In the past, I have typically bought gift cards for the grown-ups and plush toys for the kids.
Results this year: Yowsa! Especially with the children. The kids compared books, the adults (privately) were gratified that no batteries were required, and I smiled all day at hearing stories being read and told.
— A fan
Dear Fan: This makes me smile. Thank you so much. Long after the batteries have worn down, a book will resonate and inspire its recipient. This year at Christmas my family had a storytelling session/contest that I'm still laughing about.
You can contact Amy Dickinson via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Twitter @askingamy or "like" her on Facebook.