Kids a bit protective
Being a single parent is never easy but I am at a stage where 3 out of my 4 kids are all grown up (all in college) and thought it would be nice to be dating again.
It has been 17 years since I was separated from their biological father and have focused my time and efforts being both a mother and a father to them.
Now that they are older and need less of me, I am considering being in a relationship again.
However, my kids are a opposed to it. They say that I don't need a man in my life and that I should not have any worries because they promised to take care of me when I grow old.
I find it sweet that they have actually thought and made plans about my "retirement". And I know that the reason they are not keen on the idea of me having a relationship because they don't want me hurt again (we're really very close!).
Not that I'm in a terrible hurry or desperate to have a man in my life...but how do I make them understand?
I am a single parent too. My children are only 9 and 3 but even so my 9 year old has explored with me the possibility of a new partner. Fortunately being younger she is actually on-board with the idea because she understands that ultimately I don't want to spend my life alone.
I guess the first most important thing I have to say is - your children don't have to understand. They are grown. They have their lives. You have yours. While I understand you are close and they certainly seem to want to care for you, there are quite simply things they cannot give you - like romantic companionship and someone to share the daily burdens of life with.
If you feel the need to justify your desire to have a partner perhaps ask them about what they want out of life (likely in there will come love, children, travel etc). Then explain to them that your desires are really no different. Despite the gap in your ages, just like them you do not want to walk through like alone and just like their siblings would not be a substitute for a partner for them, children are not a substitute for a partner for you.
Consider also that in addition to fearing you may get hurt, your children may also feel that they have earned a certain place of authority in your life beyond that of child. This often happens where children are raised by a single parent (for whatever reason). That's not to say that as single parents we raise our children up to the status of partner. Children in single parent relationships often do more, get more of a say in the everyday workings of the family's life, and are consulted and relied upon more by parents.
This can result in a child who is mature beyond their years and more compassionate than most. But it can also mean that they then have trouble with what they perceive as being replaced when another adult comes along to share the load that they once did.
Speak to your children if it is important to you but also make a decision beforehand whether you intend to yield to their desire that you not have a partner, or seek one out regardless. Then be open and honest with your children. If you intend and want to seek a partner, thank them for their love and concern while explaining that this is something you need for yourself and after many years alone you feel you have earned. If you preference is to grow old with someone rather than alone (I know mine is!) then tell them so.
The reality is that you may get hurt but love always carries that risk for all of us. Avoiding the risk won't necessarily prevent hurt. It's just that rather than being hurt by someone else we are likely hurting ourselves.