This is entitled, “Dating and the Single Parent,” since it holds true for all single parents, but this article’s focus is on the divorced or divorcing parent.
We’re all past the middle Ages to think that single or divorced parents are not going to date. Our concern is the children and what they see, imagine, and feel. We want to give you the best advice possible as to how to date, when to tell your child (ren) you are dating, and when is the appropriate time to introduce your child (ren) to the person you are involved with.
The bottom line rule goes as follows:
● You only introduce your children to someone you are seriously involved with. This means that you have been dating this person for at least six months, you are seriously involved in a monogamous relationship.
● Six months may seem like a long time, but it is never good to introduce your child to multiple partners! It is possible that you may not marry the first person you spend six months with, but the six-month rule is pretty widely accepted because it eliminates casual relationships.
● It is important to remember that whatever the age of your child(ren), if they are close to three years of age they have the cognitive skills to understand in their own way, what is going on and who this person is to you. Don’t underestimate your child, they may not have all of the words, but they do retain memory and do know what is going on.
So it is critical that when you begin dating, that if at all possible you either make the date for during the time that the child(ren) are with the other parent. You never tell them what you are doing and you MUST be careful about phone calls and becoming so consumed with this new person that your child(ren) have any sense of you dating anyone but their other parent.
If you intend on joining an Internet dating site, please be careful when you go on it or when you speak to the people you meet. Children have VERY LARGE EARS, and listen to everything. Do not speak to your children about dating or whom you are dating. You must be very sure about this other person before you even speak about them to your child(ren). You do not them privy to your desire for another partner.
Remember that children are very egocentric. They need to feel like they are the most important people in your life. It’s hard enough for them to accept that their worlds have fallen apart and that the life you brought them into, no longer exists.
One must be sensitive to the needs of children, which means that as a single or divorced parent, you will be dating. However, how you deal with this aspect of your life will affect your children for the rest of their lives.