I’m a divorced dad dating, wondering at what point do I tell my 3 boys? They are 11, 15 and 18.
Telling your kids you are dating isn’t an easy thing to do for any divorced dad or divorced mom. It’s very stressful, due to the uncertainty about how each one will react.
With emotions that include shock, anger, sadness, depression, but sometimes even happiness, kids’ reaction to their divorced parents dating can be all over the board.
So, when is the right time to let your kids know you’re dating? I think it is different for everyone, and that there are many, many factors involved in the decision. They include:
- How long you’ve been divorced.
- How long you’ve lived out of the house.
- Why you got divorced.
- If your ex is already dating and the kids know.
- How your relationship is with your ex.
- How the kids are doing emotionally from the divorce.
- The personalities of your kids.
These are only a few things you should think about.
Also, how should a parent tell his/her kids they are dating? It all depends on the relationship you have with your kids. Some people are very open and honest with their children, and don’t lie and/or sugarcoat things. Others are more protective and delicate. It’s your prerogative.
A good way to start the conversation might be:
“I’d like to share something with you. Now that your mom and I are divorced, I have decided to work on my social life a little bit, and that includes going on dates. When you are with your mom, I’d like to share the company of people my own age. That could mean watching a football game with my friends or having dinner with a woman. “
Always ask the kids how they feel and try to turn it into an open discussion. Make sure to say, “The women I date will never, ever take your mom’s place, and will never try to be your mother.” And “I will always love you the same as I do now, no matter who I meet and even if I end up falling in love with someone someday.”
There are some guidelines I think parents should consider when it comes to starting to date and their children:
- Don’t have sleepovers until the kids have met the man/woman several times and feel comfortable with it.
- Introducing your kids to a string of dates is never a good idea. In other words, save the introductions for those really special people in your life.
- Don’t push your new girlfriend/boyfriend on your kids. You still need time alone with your kids-even if you remarry!
- Ignore snide comments your kids might make about the woman/man. They are just self-protecting and want a reaction out of you. But, don’t laugh along with them. It’s disrespectful to your girlfriend and is teaching your kids that that is OK.
- Reiterate over and over again how the woman/man is never taking the place of their parent and that he/she just wants to be a mentor, friend and another person they can rely on for support.
- Don’t be too touchy feely with the new girlfriend/boyfriend in front of the kids.
- Try to put yourself inside the mind of your kids and understand how they might be feeling: insecure, scared, sad, wishing you were back with your ex.
In closing, when it comes to dating, any divorced dad or mom knows IT”S COMPLICATED! Selflessness is key here. I get it. When you meet someone you are crazy about, it is so hard to “hide it” and not see the person a lot, but good things come to those who take it slowly and put their kids first!