Even if you and your ex have an amicable divorce, and you both see the kids all the time, your children are going through a disruption. You need to consider them when you start dating again. It’s understandable that you may want another man in your life. If you lay the groundwork carefully, you have a better chance of your children and your new partner developing a good relationship.
The Reuniting Fantasy
After you divorce, it is common for children to have the fantasy that mom and dad will reunite, says M. Gary Neuman, author of “Helping Your Kids Cope with Divorce the Sandcastles Way.” A child’s identity is his family. If that ends, many children can feel lost. That is why it is important to be honest with your children about what you want for your future and how that will affect your children, according to Neuman.
Wait to Introduce
Your children, hungry for male attention, may attach themselves quickly to the first guy you bring around, according to TV personality and psychologist Dr. Phil McGraw. If things don’t work out between you and your new boyfriend, your children will have to deal with another loss. If you continue the cycle, your children can end up feeling abandoned and confused. It’s best to keep men away from your children until you are sure the relationship will be a long-term one.
Talk to Your Children
If you do become serious about someone, it is best to tell your children. If they have to discover or figure out that you are serious about someone before you tell them, they may feel betrayed by you. If they are already anxious because of the divorce, this may break any trust they had with you, says Neuman.
Reassure Your Children
Make your children a part of your dating life when the relationship becomes serious, says Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. Your children need to feel part of your life and to be reassured that your new boyfriend will not take you away from them. Sometimes, children will become angry and not like the person you are dating. Listen to them, because sometimes your children may have insight that you are not seeing. Other times, children are just jealous. Explain to them gently that jealousy is the wrong emotion for them to have. Boteach advises that you should not let your date spend the night or move in with you. That is disrespectful to your children and exposes them to adult situations that they cannot handle.
Signs Your Boyfriend is Trouble
Although you have the right to be happy and date again, you don’t have the right to do so at the expense of your children, who have the right to be safe and comfortable in their own home, says Neuman. It is inappropriate for your boyfriend to engage in inappropriate teasing, such as calling your children names they don’t like. It is not your boyfriend’s place to discipline your kids or to offer unsolicited advice. Your boyfriend should not go into your children’s rooms unless he is invited. He should never touch your children if it makes them uncomfortable.
- mother with children on boat image by Pavel Losevsky from Fotolia.com