Divorced and starting to think about dating again? Not sure what to say to your kids?
Blog-a-thon Day 2:
Today’s guest blogger is an expert on relationships after divorce who offers smart tips on handling your dating activity with your children. Alyssa Johnson, MSW, LCSW, created RemarriageSuccess.com to help divorced parents move forward from divorce and into new loving relationships, marriages and successful step families. She is the author of over 250 published articles and 4 books, and maintains an active counseling practice.
Relationships after divorce and dating are a natural process for you. It may take awhile to get there, but most of us eventually would like to be in another relationship. But, your dating is NOT natural to your kids. For teenagers, thinking about their parents having a boyfriend or girlfriend will probably elicit something like “Ooh, gross!” And for younger children, it just seems wrong that their mommy and daddy is with someone other than their mommy or daddy!
So, what do you do with these conflicting emotions from everyone? I want us to take a look today at steps you can take to make this transition a little easier for your kids.
1. Be open – Let your children know that you feel like you’re ready to date. Explain to them what that may mean exactly for them. Don’t hide the fact from them. You aren’t seeking their approval, but you’re letting them know so they don’t become afraid about what all of this means.
This is an excellent opportunity for you to talk to them about what dating is and isn’t. You can share your values with them about relationships after divorce.
2. Reinforce how important the kids are to you – One reason kids get leery when their parents are ready to date again is fear that this will mean some type of abandonment. Their family has already been split apart and they are seeing less of each parent now than they used to. What will this dating thing mean to the time they get to spend with you?
It’s also not uncommon for children, especially the oldest, to try to take on a caretaker role for their single parents. They may fear they’ve not done a good enough job or will be replaced. Let your children know that you love them very much, but you require adult friendships as well as the relationship you have with them. This is not a taking away from them, but an adding to your life so that you may ultimately be a better parent because your life is more well rounded.
3. Be prepared for anger and resentment – This is yet another change in their ever changing lives. And kids don’t like change! Honestly, does anyone? They may complain. They may ask a lot of questions or they may just sulk. You know your children and should be able to read their emotions. Deal with them head on. Don’t ignore them. Again, I’m not saying you shouldn’t date if your kids are unhappy. What I am telling you is that you need to address the issue with the kids, not ignore it and just assume they’ll get over it.
Another reason they may be upset is that your dating, forces them to accept that you and their other parent will not be reconciling.
This whole single parenting thing is tough. The only constant in it is change. Each time a new change occurs, it takes everyone time to figure out how it’s going to affect their lives and how to deal with it. Trying relationships after divorce is just another one of those changes. While it may be tempting to just not mess with the hassle of it all, remember that a happy and content parent is better able to parent than one who is frustrated and sacrifices their happiness for their children.
Preparing your kids for the beginning of your dating is the first step. What do you do once you’ve found that special someone? Helping divorced parents maneuver that minefield is one of the goals at Remarriage Success. I invite you to visit my website at www.RemarriageSuccess.com. I offer high quality information to guide divorced parents from the point of divorce through creating a successful remarriage and step family. If you enjoyed this article, why not join my newsletter, the Tip of the Week here ?
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