In my last post, we mentioned everyone’s favorite blended post-divorce family, The Brady Bunch. Did you ever wonder how a woman with three daughters and a man with three sons “knew it was much more than a hunch” and formed a family? How did Mike and Carol manage dating with all of those kids running around? Was it the power of Alice? No…she didn’t come on until after the wedding. (Someone had to fill the center square, after all). What was their secret formula? I scoured the Web for answers to dating after divorce and kids.
Take it Slowly, Expect Resistance, Don’t Ask for Permission
The first bit of advice is take it slowly. Counselors say it’s a bad idea to introduce someone new into their kid’s lives until the dating parent’s own life has gained some stability. If you rush into a new relationship too soon after the divorce, problems await. Think about it – the children are just coming to accept the fact that mom and dad aren’t together any more. The kids may even blame themselves for their parents’ breakup. Bringing a new romantic interest onboard can cause processor overload in their young psyches. The new person may be seen as an intruder and the kids may even begin to wonder if the new person was the cause of the divorce in the first place.
Here’s another thing to consider: What if the new relationship doesn’t work out? Your children will have another front row seat to another crumbling relationship. That is a lot to bear. Becoming the Brady Bunch is something that only happens in Hollywood. Real life relationships are much harder and more delicate.
Here’s another thing. Resuming a romantic life is a decision you have to make for yourself. Don’t look for or expect your children to give you permission to date that certain someone. Sure, they’ll have their opinions, but their resistance is likely sprung from their fear of change.
Dating Other Moms and Dads
You might think it’s a good idea to seek out other divorced parents with kids the same age as yours to date. Not really, counselors say. Sometimes kids even try to “fix up” their divorced mom or dad with their friends’ parental counterparts. Going on dates with the kids in the back seat may feel like the Brady Bunch, but it may turn out more like the Addams Family. If the kids are all friends, it’s better, at least in the beginning, to leave them out of the dates so they can remain friends. When kids start fantasizing about their buddies becoming new step brothers or step sisters, they are setting themselves up for heartbreak. The bottom line is to not bring the kids into it until you’re sure the relationship is on solid ground.
Don’t Hide the Kids
If you are a divorced parent with kids, you owe it to your new dating partner to be open about it. Some divorced parents are afraid that the “baggage” of children will be a hinderance to getting back into the romantic arena. Counselors admit this is true, but beginning a relationship with honesty gives it the best chance of success. If someone loses interest in you because you have kids, take that as a blessing and be thankful you haven’t wasted more time with that person.
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