Divorce, Dating and Telling the Kids

Posted by on Feb 28, 2015 in Healthy Separation and/or Divorce Counseling | Comments Off on Divorce, Dating and Telling the Kids

How to introduce your new relationship

It’s perfectly normal to want to pursue a new relationship after divorce. We are social animals. But dating can be complicated when kids are involved.

If the process is rushed, it can create unnecessary anxiety for your kids or obstruct their post-divorce adjustment. It may even become a barrier in your relationship with your children.

Take the time to introduce someone new in a way that prioritizes your kids’ needs. This will better facilitate a healthy transition.

You may be wondering the following:

When should I begin dating again?

Experts agree that it takes one to three years to recover from divorce or separation. Waiting at least a year reduces distraction from the necessary work of establishing a new family routine, working through custody matters, and helping your kids adjust to the monumental change in their lives.

Should I tell my kids when I start dating?

Realistically, even young children expect that their parents will date other people at some point. If you’ve prioritized their post-divorce recovery, telling them you’re dating probably won’t be an overly distressing experience.

Generally, younger children need less information. Simply describing the relationship as ‘time with your friend” is usually enough. Pre-adolescent and adolescent kids are certainly aware that people date, and may be provided more information, if they want it.

Understand that you need not ask your child for permission to date. Children should not be given the power to determine your personal relationships. That is an adult decision. However, do give your children the opportunity to share how they feel about your dating.

Finally, protect your children’s feelings by maintaining the focus on your time together and conducting your casual dating life away from them. This includes time spent texting or calling partners. Your children should feel that they are your priority when they are with you.

When should I introduce the person I am dating to my children?

Minimize your child’s exposure to relationships that may not go anywhere. Children quickly form attachments and may be hurt or struggle with loss when relationships end.

Make sure your relationship is serious, lasting, and solid before considering introductions. One of the biggest post-divorce dating mistakes parents make is rushing this step. Take it slow.

When introductions are made, ensure that the new relationship does not detract from your parenting relationship now that you are all together. Balance your relationships thoughtfully. Kids still need their time alone with you.

What if my kids don’t like who I am dating?

Unfortunately, your children may not be as excited as you are about your new partner. While kids should not be allowed to make your dating decisions, they do have the right to feel safe and comfortable in their own home.

Consider whether your relationship is good for your children if your partner:

  • Uses nicknames your kids dislike.
  • Enters their personal space without permission.
  • Touches or interacts in ways that make them uncomfortable, no matter how innocent.
  • Attempts to coerce them to do anything they don’t want to do.

Any disrespect of your kids’ personal boundaries is a red flag.

Should I tell my ex and co-parent that I am dating?

Your former partner has no say in your casual dating life. However, plans to introduce your children to a serious relationship partner should be shared. Parents want to know if their kids are in close contact with another adult. Try to arrange a meeting of all adults, if possible. Consider it a matter of safety and courtesy.

More importantly, prevent a situation where your child is put in the position of sharing or withholding your relationship news.



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