Single Parenting/Dating after divorce
I am going through a divorce that will be final in two months. I have two boys, 8 and 11 that their dad and I have split custody of. Recently I started dating someone that was friends with my ex and it's going really well. I only see this man on the weeks or days I don't have the kids, so they haven't been around him or have seen him since we started dating. However my 11yr old is NOT happy about the fact that I am dating one of his dads friends. Needless to say, my ex and his friend are no longer friends. I asked my son to give him a chance and he refuses. The man that I'm dating really wants to be involved in their lives and is very supportive. I am very sensitive to my sons feelings and don't want to push him. Do I continue seeing this man? Do I leave it be for now and see if he comes around? I don't want to push my son, but I would really like him to give him a chance. Any advise you have would be very helpful. Thank you!! -Jennifer
Hi, Jennifer. One of the main precepts in parenting is sacrifice. You have to temporarily put aside your own needs, in order to meet the needs of the child/children. (this does not, of course, mean spoiling them; it means that you no longer get to do whatever you want to do.)
This principle gathers even more importance when parents are newly divorced, because the needs of the children are so much greater.
Children going through divorce are going through a tremendous amount of conflict and turmoil. They need your attention, love, warmth, guidance, comfort, etc, 100 times more than before.
Thus, whatever you can do to limit your 'me time', would be in the best interests of the children. That means, IMO, no dating for AT LEAST one year after the divorce is final. I would suggest at least 2 years, actually, because that is how long it takes to fully recover from divorce. If you won't do it for your children, do it for your own mental health. And it does not really matter how long you have been separated; psychologically, we start healing / growing when the paper is signed by the judge.
Finally, I think you kids have a valid point when it comes to dating your ex's friends. They have enough internal conflict already, and you are simply adding to it. You might have the maturity to deal with the situation, but they don't. Also, you no longer have allegiance to the father, so it doesn't cause you the conflict that it does them. Imagine, if you will, still being happily married to, and living with, their father, and you decide to start openly dating his best friend. I'm sure you can see the problem there - in the minds of your children, the two of you are still together (at least a part of their minds). So, it is like a slap in the face to them, a direct insult to the entire family.
I would suggest, for all these reasons and more, that you don't date at all, for, at the very least, the next 14 months. Two years if you can stand it. Your kids need you, even if they cannot express it verbally. They need the stability, the feeling of a family unit. Their whole world is breaking apart and, if you bring another man into the picture, you are breaking it even further.
Besides, these rebound relationships rarely last. If you break up with him, it will cause your kids even more heartache. When the relationships last, they are typically dysfunctional, because you have not had the time to grow past your old ways of being in relationships.
Give the men a rest, Jennifer, and, for the sake of the kids, focus on meeting their needs 24/7.