Everyone is excited to meet him but I am not ready to introduce him to my inner circle just yet. My primary reason are my two little boys. Since divorcing their dad last year, we both have been focused on seeing the kids settled through this transition.
I believe there are multiple factors to take into consideration when introducing a new person to your kids who is not their parent. Below are some of the points I believe have and will work for me.
1. Timing. You need to ensure this person is here to stay. It is not good for little kids to see a revolving door of people in and out of their parents’ lives. I made a decision not to introduce the person I am with until we reach the 1 year mark. Now, we have had a few little meet n' greet mishaps. But I have introduced him as my friend. I believe it's important to create stable environments for your children so they are able to create stable relationships in the future. Remember, they are watching you.
Also, keep in mind the length of the divorce and how it ended. In my situation, we separated in October 2011, yet did not finalize the paperwork until April of 2012. It took time for my ex-husband to accept it was over. Once he did, we put the house on the market in June 2012 and it took almost a year for our family home to sell. Believe me it was uncomfortable co-parenting in the same home for almost 18 months. Yet once the relationship was no longer a priority everything became focused on the kids. Although, when I look back on the situation, I think we all needed that time to heal into our transition. Our children were saddened by us not being together, but did not display any signs of trauma from the divorce. Truthfully, they have thrived. Also, their dad is still welcomed in my home, to family events and holidays.
But if your divorce is long and drawn out, and if there is still bitterness and tension, your children may need some more time before they are ready to accept someone else in your life.
2. Age of Children. Kids at different ages react differently to divorce and have different issues. My children were ages 5 and 7. They transitioned with ease from the divorce, but that doesn’t mean that an older child necessarily will. Older children can be really territorial of their parents inviting a new person into their family dynamic. Hence I stress the importance of ending relationships gracefully. When you end your relationships on good terms it can allow you and your children the opportunity to heal much faster. If the other parent is bitter or wants to war with you, you can’t control how they’ll respond but you can control your own behavior. If you decide to introduce someone into a peaceful dynamic regardless of age, your kids are likely to be more receptive than under strained circumstances. Keep the communication pathway open with your kids by talking to them openly about what is going on in your personal life by speaking to them first before introducing the person.
3. Purpose of Relationship. Consider why you are engaging this person. Are you looking to be married again? Or are you looking for temporary companionship for the sole purpose of sexual gratification? It's important to define these parameters because the latter arrangement is most likely not what you want to expose your children to. Move slowly, you need to know exactly what you are getting yourself and your children into with this new person. Anyone you allow into your life on an intimate level should be looked at as a potential parent. If they don't meet the criteria of parent, then ask yourself, what are you doing with this person?
4. Be Realistic. I recommend not putting any expectations on the relationship in the beginning. You don’t want to jump out of one relationship right into the next. Yet, sometimes you may meet someone sooner than you think. The excitement of connecting with a new flame is such a beautiful experience when done all over again with great intentions. But give yourself time to enjoy the experience of enjoying another person and discovering yourself all over again. Also, once introducing your children, the new person in your life is going to need time too. You love this person but that doesn’t necessarily mean that your kids will. Allow your new beau and children the opportunity to feel each other out on their own terms. It will be well worth it.
Ultimately, how you deal with dating with your kids after a divorce is based upon your needs, wants and desires. Recognize the new person in your life deserves your honesty to know where they stand on being introduced to your children. And in turn, your children deserve not to be blindsided.
Dating after divorce with kids has been wonderful for me. It’s the first time in my life I feel I have it all at once. I just want all of you to never forget that every great love story has the opportunity to have a great beginning and happy ending. How you write your new love story after divorce is up to you.