Widow, should I assume the role of father and mother?

Widow, should I assume the role of father and mother?

I have been a widow for almost two years. My daughter is 10 years old. Do I have to assume both the role of mother and the role of father? (Catherine)

Annie Cottet

Clinical Psychologist


Your daughter has a father, even though he is now deceased. She was raised by you two until she was eight years old. She thus has the lived experience of the difference of roles between a father and a mother . This difference in the parental relationship has already structured it, it has internalized it. However, the father leaves a void as well as husband as father. You can not fill this void alone, you are right. Especially since your daughter is in full need of her mother. From a full-fledged mother as you have been during your husband's lifetime, from a mother who can talk about her father to her daughter, from a mother who can listen to her daughter talk about her father, from what he would have said, of what he would have done.

By the way, you are certainly not alone in life , the extended family is there, family and in-laws. Is not there an uncle, a godfather or a grandfather, so many close relatives who could play a male role to your daughter or who could advise you what they do as a father in this or that situation? If you are concerned about difficulties in your daughter's education, bringing a family council together to make important decisions could be a solution. It is also true that many women are now alone with their children, after a divorce or because of a husband often absent, because very busy with his job. They often wonder, too, how they should react to the education of their children.

Finally, what you need to keep in mind is do not lock yourself and your daughter into a relationship only. Talk as much as you can with teachers, school counselors, your husband's best friends, the parents of your daughter's favorite friends, the doctors, your family or in-laws that you enjoy most. There are people around you and so some, if you ask, will be with you.

Annie Cottet is a clinical psychologist and practices at the Pluralis Center in Paris.


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