Moms Talk: Dating and Kids

Today we discuss the dynamics surrounding relationships with the opposite sex in the family setting.

Last week's discussion was about divorce, and how children are affected by it, but this week we take a turn into the next step for some after divorce — dating.

When it comes to our kids, we've spent 10 months nurturing these creatures before we've even met them, and then instantly upon their arrival we love them more than we could love anything else in the universe.

The rest of our lives are spent trying to avoid hurting them in every way possible, and molding them to grow up to be the best they can possibly be. Yet having said all that, we are human beings too, and the need to be loved on an adult level isn't something that should be foregone because mom and dad aren't married anymore, is it?

At what point is it appropriate to begin dating after divorce?

When should kids become aware of their parent's dating? 

Lindsay Leppek April 13, 2011 at 05:03 PM
This is a topic I've come into contact with only from a far. I've seen kids benefit tremendously from a new parental figure in their lives, and I've witnessed grown up adult children act like down right toddlers when their parent begins to date. Wheres the point of comfort level in this area?
Tina DeBord April 13, 2011 at 05:09 PM
I don't know much about this topic either, but I'm definitely interested in knowing more.
Lindsay Leppek April 13, 2011 at 05:09 PM
I think its just you & me Tina.
Lindsay Leppek April 13, 2011 at 05:10 PM
But from our perspective, being moms of young ones, isn't hard to comprehnd the idea of introducing some new to these sensitive new beings?
Heather Camps April 13, 2011 at 05:12 PM
This is something that I don't have firsthand experience with since I am happily married and my parents are still married, but in the cases of friends or extended family that I know all I can say is....it depends. It depends on the age of the children, and I think it depends on the circumstances of the break-up/divorce. I do believe that as a parent it is your responsibility to shelter your children from additional pain so I do not think it is appropiate to introduce a new boyfriend/girlfriend to a child unless the relationship is serious. Bringing another person [a potential parent-figure] into a child's life only to break up and take that person away should try and be avoided as much as possbile. Plus, in the early stages of dating and getting to know someone you are still learning the other person's values etc and certainly it would not be wise to bring a new person around before you know whether or not they are a good role model etc..
Tina DeBord April 13, 2011 at 05:13 PM
Well, I guess I'll offer educated guesses to your questions. I'd say it's okay to date as soon as a parent is ready. And I think the kid(s) should be informed when the relationship becomes serious and mom's or dad's attention will be directed away from the kid(s) toward someone else. Kids are so so sensitive and should be allowed to make the transition along with the parent.
Lindsay Leppek April 13, 2011 at 05:15 PM
I can't imagine being alone, I would definetly need the outlet of an adult my age, but I think I would have to be pretty sure the person was someone who has passed the point of begining dates prior to meeting my kids. I'd like to think that dating adults don't let people into their kids lives that are still making excuses for. In example, "Oh he just screamed at me because he had a long day at work." Or, "She seems to drink alot, but probably because its summer." Those clues into who people really are, can't be rationed off or ignored when kids are involved. If your friends don't like them, chances are they aren't good people.
Tina DeBord April 13, 2011 at 05:16 PM
I totally agree, Heather. But I do think it's important to tell the kids as soon as they seem ready and to not keep secrets in families. Secrets undermine trust.
Lindsay Leppek April 13, 2011 at 05:18 PM
EXACTLY!!! Dating seems to raise certain hormones, I know I 've seen lust cloud mny of my friends opinions, and this is where my concern would lie. You've gotta have your radar on, because its no longer just you dating, its your kids so to speak, because the new relationship will affect them. Even it its just affecting you, and your kids are witnessing that.
Lindsay Leppek April 13, 2011 at 05:21 PM
Did any of you watch the Bachelor this past season? I don't watch it, but I caught one episode, the one where the winning woman introduced her 6 yr old to the "bachelor" guy. It was really wierd. I felt bad for the kid. The child was so excited to see mommy after I'm assuming no contact for a while, and mommy came with cameras and a dude she kept pushing her to interact with.
Lindsay Leppek April 13, 2011 at 05:26 PM
What about hte flip side of things? Theres older generations, like my parents who divorce, then find pretty quickly another. Its not uncommon in this age group to re-marry in less than a year. I suppose it has to do with knowing what you want, and not having the complication of young children to worry about in the equation. Yet it still bothers some adult kids. Are they justified in being upset at such a quick re-marriage?
Tina DeBord April 13, 2011 at 05:27 PM
I didn't see it, but that sounds awkward for sure. I bet it's super hard to continually put your kid(s) first. I've only been a mom for a year and I have a pretty stable life, but there are definitely time when I need/crave me time. For a divorcee, me time is probably even more important/necessary. How do you go on with your life and still be a responsible/sensitive parent?
Heather Camps April 13, 2011 at 05:31 PM
About the Bachelor, first off that show is wrong on soooo many levels and the fact that the mom and the show producers included a child is disgusting that is way inappropiate...I know in terms of having young kids and being in a relationship a friend of the family had family dates bc he had a daughter and his new girlfriend had a daughter so for the first few months they acted like they were going on playdates with another kid instead of it being a date-date...he also never had his girlfriend over night when he had his visitations and it seemed like it worked great for them bc they had those boundaries in place before they even got serious, now they are married and blended and happy.
Tina DeBord April 13, 2011 at 05:31 PM
Maybe. It's possible that children need more time to adjust. And, if someone isn't supporting them through the adjustment period, blame and animosity probably develop pretty quick. At the same time, though, single parents might be justified in thinking that the ideal household includes two parental figures living under the same roof. Like Heather said early, it seems to depend on the situation and the individual kid(s). Therefeore, it's important for the caregivers to be in tune with their kid(s) and respect their emotions.
Tina DeBord April 13, 2011 at 05:34 PM
Seems like the kids would have been glad to have someone in the same situation, too--even if they never discussed it.
Lindsay Leppek April 13, 2011 at 05:35 PM
I have a bit of an inner struggle when it comes to my parents. While one is upset and reeling still from the divorce they petitioned for, the other has given up trying, and is ready to move ahead, and find and create their own happiness. At first I found my self irritated that one was "moving on", but then I thought, we live once. Our happiness is absolutely up to no one but ourselves. Why should they both wallow in misery? And why should one of the divorcees have to continue to wallow just because the other is?
Susan Halliday April 13, 2011 at 05:39 PM
I'm not in this situation either, but I agree with Heather's comments and don't think a new person should be introduced until it is a serious relationship. The kids should know that you're dating (if old enough to understand) but don't need to meet the person. For older parents, I think it makes a difference if they are divorced or widowed; but they are the only ones that can know when they're ready.
Tina DeBord April 13, 2011 at 05:39 PM
That raises the question: Whose happiness is first priority: mom's/dad's or the kids'?
Lindsay Leppek April 13, 2011 at 05:40 PM
Oooh, I like this scenario! What a cool way to blend things!
Lindsay Leppek April 13, 2011 at 05:41 PM
Tina, I meant grown children reacting this way. Like a 35 year old upset her mom remarried so soon.
Lindsay Leppek April 13, 2011 at 05:44 PM
I agree Susan. In any case, an open dialog seems to go along way. Whether the kids are fully grown, or still young, telling the kids your prepared to start dating gives everyone who might have feelings a fair warning as to whats happening. Then another discussion should ensue when things turn serious with a particular person, then a meeting should take place.
Heather Camps April 13, 2011 at 05:47 PM
If the kids are grown and on their own then the parents should be free to find their own happiness, whatever that is...
Lindsay Leppek April 13, 2011 at 05:47 PM
I think it depends on the age of the kids, HOWEVER, I will say this from experience. Seeing your parent happy, in a good way is so much easier than seeing them in a deep depression.
Lindsay Leppek April 13, 2011 at 05:51 PM
Theres alot to be said about that angry, hurt parent, and how they negatively affect their kids. In my opinion the negativity pushes the kids away. As a parent, you can't expect the kids to be as upset as you, or feel as scorn, and then be filled with hurt when your kids aren't. It's like making them take sides. Being upset mom/dad is dating again, or even just happy, and being forced to take sides. Sometimes as the offspring, you just want to live your own life, and yes, a happy parent makes it easier. I know thats has to be painful, especially when or if there was a marriage breka up over an unfaithful spouse, or the like, but as the kids, you have no control over it, and being made to feel as if you have to choose sides, only leaves a whole other set of anger from the kdis.
Lindsay Leppek April 13, 2011 at 06:00 PM
In the end, for most of us, emotions are powerful things. They can cloud our judgement when dating, and can over whelm us and cause us to react in ways we never thought we would when in the midst of a divorce. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we become victims of our own emotions. We involve our kids when we shouldn't, or we ignore things we need to see. I think its a safe bet to say when dealing with kids, and life changing decisions that involve alot of emotions, its a good idea to stay on the sober side of the road. Limit the alcohol, and always refrain from drugs. The surge of adreneline and hormones we get from emotions is enough to confuse matters. When our kids are at stake, its of the utmost importance to use the clearest mindset possible. I feel I have to say this, Dominic Calhoun's life was ended after horrific abuse at the hands of his mothers neglect, and her boyfriends abusive ways. Drugs played a role, as well as evil. Finally, if you suspect any danger from a new person in a friend or family members life, speak up. You could save a life.
Sondra Pavlak April 19, 2011 at 11:16 PM
It really isn't a good idea to bring a new man into the scene at all, until your kids are 18. The message that you are sending to them prior to that is, it's ok to sleep around, it's ok to bring a total stranger into our house to possible molest or hurt you all, your real father is doing it, premarital sex is ok, I need a man to sleep with, on and on. Sound oldfashioned? Use alternate plans to keep your children safe until you really know a good mate. Maybe call his ex?


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