Many kids, no matter how old they get, never give up the dream that their divorced parents may someday get back together. For this reason, the subject of dating may be a burn that your kids are not yet ready for. It is important to be patient, loving, and understanding as you help them navigate the post-divorce dating waters with you.
Handle with Care
Kids may be extremely sensitive about the subject of dating, so, when you bring it up, remember to treat the subject with care. The key to a successful conversation about dating is to understand your child's feelings. Go into the conversation with the understanding that your children may have many questions, may react with anger, or may reject the subject completely.
Expect a Range of Emotions
All of the emotions that your child feels -- from sadness, to happiness, to anger -- are very normal and should be respected. You may be ready to date, but your children may not be ready to hear about or see you with someone other than your ex.
Keep it Age-Appropriate
Remember, the way you approach the dating conversation should be based on the age of your children. Studies show that younger children tend to deal with divorce and the dating process much better than older children. Younger children really do not have a strong grasp on what is going on; they know something is wrong, but they do not have enough life experience to know just exactly what that something is.
Honesty is the Best Policy
Honesty is so very important. With all that is changing in their lives, the one thing that your children should always be able to count on is their ability to trust you! Talk to them about your desire to date, your desire to get to know someone new, and make it clear that spending time with someone other than mom/dad does not ever take away from the LOVE that you or your ex have for your children.
Set Some Guidelines
Assure your children that you will not ask them to meet anyone that you are not serious about, and that you will always have their very best interest at heart. It is also very important that you do not allow your kids to control your decisions with temper tantrums, threats to move in with the other parent, or just general "UGLY" behavior. Your kids need to understand that you are the adult, you call the shots, and you have the right to be happy! Establish these ground rules in a loving and patient way.
It has been my experience both personally and professionally that children really just want both parents to be happy. They may be angry, sad, and jealous at first, but with your love, patience, and understanding they will come around.
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