How Can I Help My Child Deal With My Dating After Divorce?

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I have been divorced for more than a year and have started dating again, but my son isn't handling it well. He seems to dislike anyone I go out with. Is there a way to make this easier on him?
- Michele

As frustrating as this can be, your son's behavior is quite natural. He may be upset for any number of complex reasons. If he's just gotten used to you and his father not being married, he might now fear that a stepparent will further complicate things and take up your time. There's also the issue of territory — it's his house, you're his mom, this date is not his dad. These feelings may be scary and overwhelming for him.

Talk with your son about how your dating makes him feel. Try to understand the aspects that upset him, which can help you find ways to make the experience easier on him. If he's worried that dating will cut into your time together, for example, then you might create some special one-on-one time with him. If he's really put off by the idea of you dating a man other than his father, explain that you're making new friends, just like he does when he's in a new situation.

Try to maintain your usual routines with your son so that your dating doesn't disrupt his day-to-day life and he still has lots of time with you. It's not necessary for him to meet every person you go on a date with — this may be overwhelming and confusing. Wait until you know if a relationship has serious potential before introducing your child.

Be patient — it's likely to take some time for your son to adjust. Many kids hope their parents will get back together, but, ultimately, most want their parents to be happy. Talking with a counselor or other divorced parents who are dating may help.

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: October 2012

Related Resources

OrganizationAmerican Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) AACAP offers up-to-date information on child and adolescent development and issues.
Web SiteParents Without Partners Parents Without Partners is an international nonprofit organization devoted to single parents and their children.
Web SiteDivorce Online Divorce Online is for people involved in, or facing the prospect of, divorce.
OrganizationAcademy of Family Mediators This organization helps families locate family mediators. For assistance in locating a family mediator in your area, contact: Academy of Family Mediators 5 Militia Dr.
Lexington, MA 02421
(781) 674-2663

Related Articles

Helping Your Child Through a Divorce By minimizing the stress a divorce creates, being patient as everyone adjusts to the new situation, and responding openly and honestly to your kids' concerns, you can help them through this difficult time.
Tips for Divorcing Parents No guide can guarantee a way to steer kids unscathed through a divorce. Every situation - and every family - is different. But these commonsense guidelines might make the adjustment a bit easier.
Becoming a Stepparent Stepparenting can be a challenging yet rewarding experience. Learn how to cultivate a healthy relationship with your stepkids.

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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