Children who "discover" that their parents are in loveoften feel betrayed when the situation reveals itself.
Already anxious about the changes in their lives due to the divorce, and often feeling closer to a parent than they did before, they may now feel that a trusthas been broken -- exactly at the point when trust and reassurance are most needed. Rather than forgo romance, Neuman and parents interviewed for this article suggest addressing children's concerns head-on before dating begins: Make sure the introduction of your new significant other takes place only after you've had a privateconversation with your child about the relationship.
It's not necessary for him to meet every person you go on a date with — this may be overwhelming and confusing.
Wait until you know if a relationship has serious potential before introducing your child.
If he's really put off by the idea of you dating a man other than his father, explain that you're making new friends, just like he does when he's in a new situation.
Try to maintain your usual routines with your son so that your dating doesn't disrupt his day-to-day life and he still has lots of time with you.
The story illustrates the confusion and anxiety children often feel when parents, eager for some measure of happiness and success in a new relationship, struggle over how much distance to place between their children and a newly developing romance."Seeing a parent date is an odd scenario for kids," says M. "It sometimes hammers home the message that our parents are never going to get back together."The power of the reunion fantasy is not to be underestimated, says Neuman, observing that some childrencling to the belief that their parents will get back together even after one parent has remarried.
The reasonis simple: A child's own identity is very much tied to that of his family.
I think it's horribly unfair to children."Joe B., father of 7-year-old Cathy, was initially very careful about how much time the two of them spent with his girlfriend and her son.Both boys were brimming with news about Daddy's new friend, Joanne.But when she referred to their father as someone who was dating, the children were quick to insist that she was wrong."Daddy told us he won't date until we're in college," they declared.Then, Neuman suggests choosing a setting where the focus will be on an activity, not "getting to know each other better." Meeting at a playground or going to see a baseball game will be easier for kids than making conversation with a stranger in a restaurant.On theother hand, casually introducing Sally or Pete at a huge Christmas party might not give kids a true senseof how important the relationship really is.That's not an argument for or against divorce, for or against dating.It is an argument for honest, direct dialogue with kids about new relationships: Why Mom or Dad wants one, what Mom or Dad will doif a new relationship becomes serious, and how Mom or Dad's relationship with the child will be affected. had been divorced for six years when she announced to her children that she was thinking ofstarting to date again."They fell on the floor laughing," she recalls.The child urged herto say goodbye to the man she'd been seeing, and Eva is now moving toward doing so, in part because she was so impressed with her son's observations.But despite such late-night chats and an occasional "flurry of activity" on her social calendar, Eva hasno interest in introducing any man to her sons."Some of the people I've met have said, 'Why don't my son and I meet you somewhere?These feelings may be scary and overwhelming for him.Talk with your son about how your dating makes him feel.