Children often require time to process and adjust to the changes divorce brings into their lives. Introducing the prospect of a new relationship into the mix can be extremely challenging for children, no matter how old they are.
Consider that with recoupling, there may also be new “siblings,” a new home, new routines, and of course, a new step-person who is going to have his or her own parenting styles and views.
So how can you start dating again without putting additional stressors on your children?
Keep these 3 tips in mind if you’re considering dating soon after your divorce.
- As part of your custody agreement, settle with your soon to be ex-spouse on a waiting period before introducing a significant other into the children’s lives. This can be a negotiated provision in your custody agreement so that you and your ex-spouse are on the same page. You may also want to agree not to introduce non-significant others to the children.
- If you are just “dating” and also have joint custody, spend your time with the children when they are with you and date when they are at your ex-spouse’s home. Then, the children aren’t involved in your dating life and their time with you is focused on you and them. If they are old enough to ask, you can handle date-related questions in an age-appropriate manner such as: “This person is someone who keeps me company when you are with your mom/dad.”
- Take cues from your children. If they are old enough to understand the issues, respect their wishes and show empathy for their feelings. Ask them if they want to meet a new person. If they say “no,” try not to push. One comment I hear frequently when I represent children is that they want alone time with the parent, unencumbered by the new boyfriend/girlfriend. Respect their wishes.
For more tips and research done on dating after divorce, read my full article on the topic from Psychology Today, “Dating After Divorce.”