As a divorced parent, it is never an easy decision to begin dating post divorce. There are so many questions. Who asks whom? Who pays? When do I introduce him to my children?
Well, I am here to offer a bit of tried and true advice.
But first, some background. I have been divorced for eight years. My children were 5 and 13 when I got a divorce, so I was very nervous about introducing anyone to them. I began dating a year or so after my divorce which was a comfortable waiting time. To be honest, there really is no need to engage your children in your dating life at this point. To maintain your independence, go ahead and pay for your half of the date or ask the guy out. You are really just getting your feet wet after being on land for some time. You should plan to pay your own babysitting expenses. Partnering with a friend can help offset babysitting expenses.
While having fun dating, you may find one person takes your heart and you decide to spend more time with them. Do it!
Get to know them better. However, still, keep your children at bay at this point. It is still too soon. Dating a person for at least a year before introducing them to your children allows you to get to know that person in their habitat. You also get to observe how they handle holidays, their family, stress, etc. These experiences will help you decide if this person has the right temperament to engage with your child(ren). You may want to share your partner's name with your children at this point and begin to plan a fun, but short outing. After a year, is a great time to introduce your children to your partner.
Here are some helpful tips:
- Have a firm beginning and end time. This way the children know the day won’t drag on and on if they don’t click at first.
- Make the activity interactive.
- Engage your partner slowly, always checking in to make sure they are comfortable.
- Communicate with your children and answer their questions. Don't post photos without consent.
- Limit affection in front of your children.
- Be prepared for your children to “test you”. They may be naughty on purpose to see how you react to them. My suggestion is you discipline them as you would in public. They are trying to see if you are being your authentic self in front of your partner.
- Don’t expect your partner to pay for your children. Discuss this before-hand and be prepared to pay for your own children.
- Have fun!
Remember, children will want to connect with your partner so only introduce your child(ren)to someone you would consider a long-term partner. Also, review personal boundaries with your children and your partner. In the early days of your child(ren) meeting your partner do not assume that person is a babysitter. Refrain from leaving your children with them until both parties are comfortable. It is completely normal to want to get your groove back and find a new partner. Just take your time and always consider your children. What has been your post-divorce dating experience?