Once a bad relationship or divorce finally comes to an end, parents often yearn for the return of a “normal” life with a companion. In this quest to move on, parents may rush into another relationship. As difficult as dating is, it is even more difficult and complicated when there are children involved. Above all else, parents must first consider how their children will be affected by the introduction of a new partner. Rushing someone into your childrens’ lives will not benefit any of the parties involved. An introduction at the appropriate time is the key to success.
Even long after a divorce children often still harbor the hope that their mom and dad will get back together. Seeing a parent with a new partner destroys this fantasy. Therefore, it is essential to TAKE THINGS SLOW. There is absolutely no need to introduce your new partner to your children before the time is right. If this person is as wonderful as you think they are, they will be patient and understand your children’s need to adjust. Rather than forcing this new person on your children, allow them to develop their own relationship with the new partner. Your children will then be able to discover the new partner’s merits.
Before introducing your children to someone new that you are dating, keep in mind how your children are reacting to the divorce. If your children are still exhibiting signs that they are angry or sad that their family unit has dissolved, introducing a new partner will only cause them to resent your new partner. Allow them time to grieve, and help them to work through the effects of the divorce before forcing them into a new situation. It is important to remember that children are innocent bystanders to your relationships. Also remember that there is always the risk that the new relationship will not work out. Breaking up with a new partner will be even more complicated if your child begins to form a bond with that person.
Talk to your children. It is important to explain that not every dating relationship will end in marriage. Ask them for their thoughts and feelings about meeting a new partner. They might be excited about meeting your new partner, or they may be anxious about allowing a stranger into their lives. As they express their hopes, concerns and fears, help them see the situation clearly.
Dating after divorce can be tricky, but if you take your time and navigate carefully, it can be a win-win for everyone.
Hoang-Anh Zapien is an Associate with Kring & Chung, LLP‘s Inland Empire office. She can be reached at (909) 941-3050 or [email protected]