The greatest gift given to children of divorce occurs when both parents have a child-focused approach to their new lives.
If your children are still showing signs of emotional distress (anger, sadness, fear, surprise, non-compliance) in reaction to the divorce, then you may want to hold off.
It is my belief that a successful It is best to keep your dating activities private as much as possible until you are in a committed relationship.
She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children.
She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana.
It is crucial to assess how well your child is adapting to the divorce before considering the introduction of a new adult into their lives. In terms of a time frame for introducing dating partners, it should not occur until at least a year into the dating relationship. It takes at least a year of exclusive dating to see how someone handles stress, to determine whether or not they fight fairly, and to assess their character. The “newness” fosters considerate behavior and conflict can be avoided more easily. Your child may feel loyalty conflicts no matter who you date. Don’t create additional instability and risk your child developing mistrust toward relationships in general. Introducing new loves before you’ve had time to really get to know them. Spend time with them, listen to their viewpoints, and respect their feelings.
You must be sure for yourself that this person is someone with whom you would like to build a future. But bringing an affair partner into their lives is certain to cause pain and result in resistance from your child. Let them know that having new people in your life doesn’t diminish your parent-child relationship in any way. Give your ex, your child’s other parent, the courtesy of knowing that you will be introducing your new partner.
They may also perceive that they are “losing” their parent when dating begins. Is he/she angry or sad or experiencing behavioral regressions?
Be mindful that children are egocentric and, although we strive to teach them empathy, their worldview is about themselves, and not centered around you. Is your child able to express their emotions openly? Please make sure that their lives are stable before allowing them to become emotionally attached to someone who may or may not remain in their lives. Dating should be happening with privacy so you can evaluate the desirability of a new person in your child’s life. Assure your child repeatedly of your commitment to them.
Be sure they understand that any and all feelings they may have are completely okay.
I find that younger children tend to be more welcoming of their parents dating, while older children and teens may express a lot of anger. Let them move at their own pace so they can come around to acceptance without feeling forced.
If the first meeting is hard, encourage them to try again another day (it only gets easier with time).