One of the most important things to realize as a parent who is dating after divorce is that, for your kids, the fantasy of mom and dad getting back together is officially slipping away. That can be a difficult fact to accept. No matter how much your divorce had to happen, no matter how fractured your marriage was, the children that you created together will likely always harbor a little hope that their parents will indeed get back together. So, there’s your first obstacle: Overcoming the guilt of disappointing your children, yet again.
Divorce is fraught with guilt. But presumably you have chosen to end your marriage for very good reasons, one of which is to live a happier and more fulfilled life without your partner in it. Your children, however, aren’t going anywhere, and so every decision you make after divorce will affect your kids – especially when it comes to dating.
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Here are some dos and don’ts to observe when you’re a parent who’s dating after divorce:
- Don’t introduce anyone you’re dating to your children until you’ve reached the point of a serious relationship and a commitment with this new person. Your children do not need to be exposed to a parade of new people coming into your life or theirs. And they do not need to get attached to someone only to have the relationship end and then be forced to deal with feelings of rejection.
- Do meet your dates away from your home so your kids aren’t constantly faced with the reality of you dating.
- Do use joint custody and parenting time to your advantage and try to schedule your dates when your kids are with your former spouse so they don’t feel like someone else is taking you away from their time with you, and so you can do your dating more privately until you’re ready to talk to your kids about it.
- Don’t lie to your kids about your dating life. If they ask questions about it, be honest that you are now dating. If your children are old enough to really understand the situation, you may want to consider discussing the fact that you’d like to start dating again. You might be surprised at their response. Plenty of kids just want to see their parents happy again, and they may be in full support of your decision to date.
- Do respect your child’s potentially negative reaction to your dating news. Watching their parents date can be a confusing thing for kids, and they may feel like they’re now competing for time with mom or dad when they used to have their attention all to themselves. This is another reason why it’s better to keep your dating encounters away from home – your kids might not be all that nice to the people you’re dating.
- Do reassure your children that they are always your No. 1 priority and that, even though you are now dating, this adult endeavor will not threaten your relationship with them, how you feel about them, or their importance in your life.
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Ultimately, if you’re mentally and emotionally prepared to date again after your divorce, then you’ll be a happier person, and that can only benefit your children. You also have the opportunity to model a healthy adult relationship to your children, which is especially important if they were exposed to the damaged marriage of their parents.
Contact Femminineo Attorneys in Mt. Clemens, MI, with all of your divorce questions or to schedule a consultation.