Parents dating after a divorce
• Reassure them that you will not bring someone into the family unless you feel comfortable that they can fit in.
Once you are ready to have your children meet your new partner, don’t surprise them by having the person show up unexpectedly at an event.
It can be difficult for the other parent to get that news.
It may also be difficult for the children if they are unsure whether it is okay to tell the other parent or unprepared for an emotional reaction.
“When talking with young children, describe the person you are seeing as a friend,” suggests Jean Mc Bride, a licensed marriage and family therapist in northern Colorado. For example, you might tell them that you are going to a movie with a person of the opposite sex. They may also feel threatened and worry that you will have less time for them.
Mc Bride encourages being open with children over the age of 11 and telling them that you are going on a date. Ask your children how they feel, and give them the opportunity to ask questions. “Oftentimes, children will adapt to new situations more easily if they feel comfortable and reassured,” notes the Parenting Assistance Line at the University of Alabama.
Introducing them to someone who doesn’t stick around can be hurtful, especially if attachments are established.
Before introducing your children to your significant other, prepare them for the meeting.
• Let your children know that your new relationship will not take time away from them.
Children have many feelings about their parents’ divorce. For children, there is often a strong desire for a reconciliation between you and their other parent.
Your children may perceive a new person in your life as someone who could not only interrupt that reconciliation, but interfere with your time with your them as well.
Your relationship with your children’s other parent has ended. Perhaps you have felt some combination of hurt, anger, depression, relief, guilt, uncertainty, or hopefulness.
Maybe you’ve taken the time to address your feelings and are ready to think about getting into a new relationship, or maybe you left your relationship in order to begin again with a new partner.