Dating Again as a Parent

Dating Again as a Parent

Parents dating is a hot topic in Comfort Zone Camp’s Healing Circles and support groups.

Some kids are open, even hoping, that Mom or Dad will remarry. But, many kids are so strongly opposed, adamant not only about how they don’t want their parent to start dating again, but many claiming that they won’t allow it.

My thoughts are this, I have seen and heard the tales of parents who have done it right and done it wrong. Because of this, I recommend to be careful not to start dating, or get involved in a serious relationship too soon. As is often true in life, if you are not at a good place emotionally, the persons drawn to you will be in at that same place.

In addition, dating too soon adds an extra layer of stress on kids who are still adjusting to their “new normal,” without their loved one, and are not ready to accept or comprehend a new relationship. Immediately after a loss, kids need to sit with their grief and process their feelings, and the surviving adult modeling that same behavior is important to help them heal.

When you are ready to date, I recommend taking your time to introduce him or her to your kids. From the beginning, be honest with your kids; let them know you are going to start dating, or that you are dating someone you like. Prepare yourself for their varied reactions. It’s okay to respond to a negative response with, “I am sorry you feel that way. However, I am going to continue to date from time to time.” While you need to be sensitive to their feelings, your kids are not the ones in charge of if you date or do not date. And if you are at a point in your healing that you are ready to date, you are allowed to make that call—if you communicate and reassure your kids, they will likely come around.

No one will ever take the place of their loved one for you or for them. Explain there is room in your heart for a new person if you eventually meet the right person. Those feelings will not touch the love you had for __________, but you can care about more than one person in your life.

Also, let them know that person you are dating is not in your life to become their new mother/father. Tell your kids that you hope that they too will be able to make room for a new person in their lives, but you appreciate it that this is your relationship and you hope they will have one with the person you are dating over time too. Sometimes it is good to take your kids out to a place outside of the home to take about this. It can keep emotions a little calmer in a neutral place.

Also remember that children can be extra sensitive to missing quality time when a parent starts dating, so make sure to spend some special one-on-one time with your kids once you start. Reassure them of your love and your special bond with them.

On the flip side, it is also okay to tell your kids you are not ready to date if they are pushing you to start. Young children have a tendency to ask, “When are you going to get me a new Mom or Dad?” Again, reassure them that as a family you are going to be okay, but you don’t feel the need to date at this time. Older kids may also worry about you when they go off to college, especially if they are only children, or the youngest, and wish for you to find some companionship.

Dating can be done right, but it is a delicate dance for everyone in the family. The key to successfully make this transition is to wait until the right time for you emotionally, and to maintain communication and reassurance with your children.

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