Dr. Jim shares his dating advice for those who are divorced with children.
Dear Jim: DO YOU HAVE ANY DATING ADVICE FOR THOSE WHO HAVE CHILDREN?
Children’s emotions also go through emotional turbulence during and after a divorce. When the parent(s) begin to date, this can significantly cause a lot of stress and pain in the family. I am the child of a divorce as well as have counselled many with children. Here are some considerations as relates to the children of a divorce:
Spend time with your children
Spend time with your child (children) to bring as much stability to their lives as you can. Show them how you are depending upon God and allow their faith to be built along with yours. Do activities and give affirmations to your children that demonstrate your loyalty to them during this upsetting time.
Help your children build confidence in God
Do not allow the relationship with a child to in ANY WAY be an attempt to replace the missing spouse OR the desire for a new one. Allow the child to be a child and develop in as normal a manner as they can.
You can give your child no greater gift than to help them build confidence in God and themselves during this time. Find a ‘healthy’ children’s/youth ministry in a local church. You may have to check several out before you find a fit for your children, but this can be a great asset for you.
Seek out classes/books relating to single parenting from a Christian perspective. Focus on the Family has a web site that can be a great resource to you.
Get ’emotionally healthy’ before dating
Get as healthy as you can emotionally before you consider dating!!!
Avoid the parade of dates in front of your children
When the parent is ready to begin dating again (highly recommended to not do this for a year OR more after the divorce), they should not begin by bringing ‘dates’ to the home for the children to see a parade of men/women.
Children will either want the parents to get back together and set out to sabotage the new relationship OR try to make the new relationship the ‘rescue’ for them as well as for their parent. Either course is very unhealthy for all parties. Children have to work through their emotional scars left over from the divorce too. Bringing ‘dates’ to the home can bring about more scarring.
When the parent is ready to return to social interaction, they should go to events and meet people at church, parties, movies, dinners, etc. but not bring them to their home.
Be aware of ‘the rescue’
A parent is more likely to be motivated to find someone to ‘rescue’ them if they have children at home. Being a single parent is a challenge for anyone, and this ‘force’ at work is to be reckoned with when opening up your social world.
Set out to make friends – not date
Do not ‘date’ initially, but set out to make friends. Be sure to develop friendships with your own gender first, even to the point of building an accountability group with one or more people of your own gender. Let them be a resource to you when you being relating to the opposite sex.
Communicate with your kids
Do keep the communication open with your children and let them know what you are doing socially (in a general sense). You do not need to share every detail, but keep them informed enough to keep their comfort zone.
This will allow them to progress with you through this social development. You may still have a reaction when you begin to ‘date’, but it should be lessened when you approach it this way.
Are they emotionally/spiritually/financially sound?
As you consider becoming serious about someone else, be sure that they are emotionally, spiritually and financially sound before proceeding. This should apply to all relationships, but is especially significant when children are involved.
Above all, pray – pray – pray. Ask God to guide you as you relate to the particular personality of your child (children). Do not hesitate to seek the services of a good Christian counselor for your children as well as for yourself. There are surely many more considerations as relates to dating and single parents, but I am hopeful that the above points will serve you as you seek other input.
May God bless you AND your children!
What are your thoughts on being divorced with children and dating again? Let us know in comments below!