The objective of this article is to provide some guidelines for parents about dating issues post divorce.
By: Susan Adams, M. Ed
Summary: Parents ask me frequently how to decide about dating issues when children are part of the situation. This article speaks to those issues. When do you introduce children to someone you are dating, do you introduce them at all, and how do you manage single parent responsibilities and your own social life?
Loneliness is a problem that plagues widowed and divorced parents. It is natural for you to want companionship from someone of the opposite sex. Yet dating can create difficulties with the children. They may develop overly high hopes or unrealistic fears about the new man or woman who enters the family picture.
One question that frequently stumps a parent is, “why doesn’t “aunt” or “uncle” – come around any more? Or, one parent who was widowed told me that she had been out with a number of men who were all nice to her little girl. The child was hoping that each last one would be her new daddy but it hadn’t happened yet.
In such a situation, don’t be pressured into anything you aren’t ready for. Only you can decide how you remake your life. Explain to your child that some men and women are just friends and it is not easy to find a new mate. people need to know each other really well and think about marriage for a long time and when you are sure you will let your child know.
Sometimes the men that a solo mother meets are unwilling to take on the responsibilities of marriage or of a ready-made family. Often they are only seeking a pleasurable escape from other ties. Similarly, a woman whom a solo father dates may be reluctant to assume the role of a stepmother. As the prospect of marriage recedes, discouragement may set in and the children suffer from its spin-offs.
Accept the fact that you may get depressed now and then. Try to keep busy with activities that interest you and take you out with people. Possibilities include, folk dancing, a new language or skill, or talk sessions with other single parents. A little inquiry will turn up single-parent activities in your community.
However you choose to spend your time, I recommend that parents who are dating, keep their dates to themselves until and unless they meet someone special with who marriage is a real possibility. THEN, it is time to bring the children into the relationship. To do so with casual dates repeats the losses for the children and can interfere with trust later.
The fact is that single parenthood is more often than not a temporary and transitional state. Five out of six divorced men and three out of four divorced women do remarry–usually other divorced people. Also, about half of all widows and two-thirds of all widowers between the ages of 30 and 50 also marry again.