If there’s one thing that children are a great example of it’s that they’re such trusting individuals. Their love
for us as parents is so big and the way they see the world is from such an innocent place, that it’s totally
understandable when the news of their parents breaking up leaves them, more times than not, utterly
Oftentimes, as a result, a crack in the foundation of that trust emerges. So, as parents try and move on with
their lives, they have the ever-so-delicate balancing act of attempting to do so while trying to avoid having
their children experience any further emotional trauma.
Therefore, it would definitely make sense that when it comes to dating, parents would need to be sensitive
in how they approach the matter while their kids being that they are still trying to adjust to their parents
being apart. If this is a dilemma that you find yourself currently in, consider these three points.
Your children didn’t choose to divorce, you did. Sometimes, in processing their parents’ divorce, what
makes a child even less responsive to it is that while their mother and father may have said, “This isn’t your
fault” or “We both love you very much”, what wasn’t stated was, “We know you didn’t make this decision
and that you’re having to deal with the consequences of our choices. We apologize for that.” That’s an
empowering thing for a child to hear because it sends the message that you’re going to do the best that you
can to help them to adjust to the “new normal” that they never wanted in the first place. And with that kind
of acknowledgement, while you should feel like you have to put your life on hold, as it relates to them and
their needs, it does send the message that you will do all that you can to be aware of your actions and more
importantly, the timing and delivery of them.
Keep the lines of communication way open. This will certainly depend on the age of your child, but as
you’re finding yourself more interested in dating, ask them how they feel about the topics of love, dating
and marriage (again). There are two benefits that come with this kind of dialogue. One, you’ll be able
to see how affected or infected they are when it currently comes to matters of the heart. For instance, if
they say, “I hate love” or “Dating is stupid”, then it wouldn’t be the right time to have your new boyfriend
or girlfriend over to the house for dinner. On the other hand, if they ask you, “Why? Are you seeing
someone?”, while it’s usually annoying to answer a question with a question, this time, it would probably
be appropriate. Ask them, “How would you feel if I was interested in exploring that option?” and be sure to
really listen to not just their words but their tone when it comes to their response. If they say something that
you didn’t really like, try not to get defensive. Everyone is trying to figure things out. Just know that the
more they feel like they can open up to you with the good, bad and the ugly, the quicker the healing process
can take place and they can prepare themselves for their parents being with someone else.
Leave the surprises for birthday parties. Some parents are sensitive enough to keep the person they’re
dating away from their child until it becomes something serious. But not mentioning your significant other
for 10 months and then bringing them along on a family vacation is not a good move, either. Children tend
to like surprises only when they benefit from them and your partner is not going to be received by them in
that way. In your mind, you may be thinking that life started after your Travis County divorce and so it’s
something to celebrate. That’s fine. Just make sure to keep those kinds of recognitions private. A person
that you think is going to be in your life for the long haul requires a lot of emotional preparation on a child’s
part. If you see a real future in the relationship, ask your child if they would like to meet your new friend.
If they initially say “no”, don’t push, revisit it at another time. Time heals all wounds and eventually, if they
feel loved, respected and safe, they’ll come around.