The dating game can look quite daunting after you have been through a divorce. Odds are, your whole perspective on relationships has changed since you and your spouse split. For many former spouses, dating is a sensitive topic to bring up, especially around your children. In the spirit of fostering a healthy and respectful co-parenting relationship, it is best to know how to let the other parent know about someone else potentially being a part of your life, and your kids’ lives. The process of telling your children can also be very challenging. The mediators at San Diego Family Mediation Center have extensive experience with this topic and are happy to walk you through a few techniques that may prove useful in discussing your dating life post-divorce.
Not Serious? No Problem
If you are dipping your feet in without pursuing any serious relationships, you don’t need to discuss it with your former spouse or children. In fact, it is probably better for your co-parenting relationship that you keep your private life and your parenting life separate. That being said, it can be traumatic to bring non-serious relationships around your children. Be very cautious about who you introduce to your children. Children will occasionally bond with your boyfriend or girlfriend. It is important that you try to keep things as consistent as possible. If you feel as though a particular person won’t be around for a while, keep them out of your family dynamic until you are sure they are committed.
Discuss with the Other Parent First
After you start dating someone new, your children will likely have a lot of questions for you and your former spouse. Giving the other parent a “heads up” before telling your kids can help them prepare some answers. Schedule a meeting with your former spouse. During the meeting, you will have an opportunity to get on the same page about how to explain the situation. You both can also discuss potential issues or concerns about dating outside of the presence of your children. If necessary, you can hire a mediator who can help direct the discussion and keep you on task.
Be Honest and Straightforward
When discussing dating with your children, tailor the conversation to their age. A younger child may not grasp the concept of dating and may need some examples. Older children may just need reassurance that you are not attempting to replace their parent but rather find someone to be happy with. Address your children’s questions or fears and always try to be as honest as possible.