Dating too soon after divorce with children
As if that’s not complicated enough, parents are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.
Telling kids about a new romantic partner doesn’t guarantee that kids aren’t going to be resentful either. Like Hadfield, I’d be inclined to suggest that despite the risks, parents shouldn’t talk with their kids about every date they go on.
In truth, most ex-lovers are not going to want the contact.
But for those who do, and feel connected, a few visits, birthday cards, and texts could make the transition a lot smoother for everyone involved. As far as entering new romantic relationships when you’re a parent, there seem to be two competing ideas about how to handle telling the kids.
Many parents prefer not to tell their children about their new relationship until it becomes more serious, usually after a few months.
That’s normally my advice too, but it seems kids in Hadfield’s study didn’t like being lied to—and sometimes resented their parent’s new lover when they were finally introduced.
After all, older children especially can feel like they have a close relationship with their custodial parent and might feel betrayed that something as big as a new love interest wasn’t shared.
Kids, Hadfield says, may actually mistrust the new partner more if they feel like he or she was the reason their parent lied.
After all, they didn’t choose to break up and can become very upset when they lose contact with another caregiver, especially if they had begun to like having that person around.Being dumped with a babysitter rather than snuggling up to watch Friday night movies with mom can make kids blame the new love interest for robbing them of their parent’s attention. Online dating has made it easier to meet people, but that doesn’t mean kids should be subjected to the instability that an active dating life brings with it.The fact is, kids don’t really want to meet all those new partners, even if they say they do.Parents figured that a new adult in the home would help them put some much needed distance between the family and the last romantic partner who was there, whether that person was the children’s biological parent or not.
Second, parents expected a new romantic partner to help firm up the hierarchy in the family, putting the children back in their place and mom or dad back to being less of a child’s friend and more a parent with rules and expectations.It’s even worse if the child’s parent says disparaging things about their ex-lover.