It's natural for kids to resist the idea of a parent dating. Some are still hoping that mom and dad will one day get back together. Others balk at the thought of sharing the parent with an outsider or enduring one more intrusion on life as they know it. At the same time, though, dating can be a healthy part of your adult life, and it's not something you have to postpone until your kids are grown. Instead, use the following tips to help your kids get used to your new social life.
Talk With Your Children About Your Plans
Before you even begin to date, sit down and have a heart to heart talk with your kids about your intentions. Let them know that you’d like to begin dating, and why. Remember, too, that you’re not asking their permission to date, and you should avoid making promises about where your dating will or will not lead. At this point, your goal is to inform them of your intentions and to help them feel that they are not being left out of the process.
Encourage Your Kids to Share Their Thoughts
It’s likely that your children will resist the idea of you, or the other parent, dating. When you’re facing an issue like this, where you know from the start that you’re not going to agree 100%, it’s important to allow everyone to be heard. Give your kids a chance to say what’s on their minds and express how they feel about the idea of mom or dad re-entering the dating world. Ask them what most concerns them about the thought of you dating, as well. Even if they can’t put it into words yet, it’s important for them to know that you’re aware of their feelings and how the idea of a parent dating may affect them.
Talk About What's Important to Them
As you continue talking, turn the conversation toward what, if anything, would help them to feel more comfortable with your dating. For example, older kids may ask you not to have sleepovers, or not to date anyone they know (like the single parent of a friend). Let them know that you’ve heard them, but avoid making promises you can’t keep, like saying you’ll never remarry. At this point, it’s enough to respond to what they’ve said and let your kids know that you’ve heard them.
Continue to Spend Quality Time With Your Kids
One of the biggest concerns kids have with parent dating is not wanting to share mom or dad with another adult. While you can’t promise that that won’t be a challenge at times, you can make a concerted effort to show your kids that they won’t be losing you by continuing to spend quality time together on a regular basis without bringing a boyfriend or girlfriend along.
Be Sensitive to the Impact of Parent Dating
Finally, remember that this isn’t a conversation you’ll have once and be done with. As you spend more time dating, you’ll likely revisit this conversation again and again with your kids. Remember, too, that your actions speak much louder than your words. Your kids need to see that they’re not being left out of your life to believe it, so be open with the men or women that you’re dating about your need to be considerate of your children and reserve one-on-one time for them.