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10/08/2014 02:41 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Dating After Divorce: #1 Rule If You Have Kids

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With a high divorce rate in America, millions of people are now dating after divorce. But if you have kids, the intricacies can be tricky. When do you introduce the person you're dating to your children? Here is Dr. Phil’s top rule to consider:

You must be extremely careful about allowing your kids to meet a new mate in your life, and then about allowing your kids to bond with that person, unless and until you know or can predict with confidence that this is going to be a long-term relationship.

What Children Need Most When Their Parents Divorce

For example, if the kids’ dad is no longer living in their home or if you’re a single mom, your kids may be hungry for ongoing male attention and quite eager to attach themselves to a man in your life. If they bond with your new boyfriend and then you ultimately break up, it will be difficult for your children to grasp that this man is suddenly gone from their lives. Then, when the kids meet the next man you’re dating, they may go through that cycle once again, and before they know it, the kids feel like they’ve got a “revolving door” of men who leave them feeling abandoned or confused.

Dr. Phil reiterates: “It's OK for the kids to meet someone special to you, but keep that person at arm's length and don't allow the bonding to take place, unless you have a reasonable expectancy that your relationship is going to stick. I would be very conservative about allowing the bond to occur until you know where things are headed.”

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