Help! I am the mother of a teenager but, I am embarrassed to admit, I myself am acting like a 17-year-old again! This can’t be good. I am newly divorced and 47 years old, and while I did hope, even as a single-parent, that someday I would try to find love after divorce, my hoping was theoretical. I haven’t been on a date in over twenty years, and this is all new territory for me. What makes dating even more terrifying is the thought of teenagers in my house who will judge me.
I actually have someone I am interested in at work, and he recently friended me on Facebook. Big deal. Right? Well, it is a huge deal to me! Just like my teenage daughter and her friends, I now check my texts and Facebook several times a day to see if I have any messages.
How can this be that I’m turning into a giddy teenager again? I thought I outgrew this. Those butterflies I had as a teen are back!
My kids (I also have a fifteen-year-old son) seem okay when we joke around about me dating, but when it actually happens, I’m not so sure how they will feel about me finding love after divorce. Apparently, instead of looking for my parents’ approval, this time I will be looking for my kids’ approval?
I wondered how other single parents deal with this issue. Is there a best practice for introducing kids to a parent’s new boyfriend or girlfriend? What should I do if my kids don’t approve or push back?
Rules for Post-Divorce Dating
Dr. Joy Browne, a licensed clinical psychologist and a nationally syndicated radio host has two golden rules when it comes to dating for newly divorced parents.
1. Don’t date until a year after the divorce is final. Period.
“Kids should not have to deal with their parent’s sexuality at the same time that they are going through adolescence and dealing with their own,” she says. Instead, by allowing for a grace period, parents can focus on their kids during an important transitional period while also achieving stability in their own lives. Only after this balance is achieved is dating appropriate, according to Dr. Browne.
2. Do not involve kids in dating.
Once a year has passed, Dr. Browne says parents should make sure not to involve their kids in their dating experiences. In other words, no family dates. “I’m not a fan of families going camping together for the weekend before you are married,” she says. “Kids get attached, and they don’t really understand dating, especially if they are having trouble getting over the divorce.”
Heidi Goldstein Friedman is a partner at the law firm of Thompson Hine; she is also a mom and stepmom. She also believes that kids should not be part of the post-divorce dating experience, even older kids. “I can proudly say that in my nine years of post-divorce single life, I only introduced my kids to one guy, and he is now my husband,” she shares.
Friedman also recommends that parents who are newly divorced and dating find a “divorce posse.” She says, “My son, especially, voiced how good he felt when he met other friends whose parents were also divorced.”
With these ideas in mind, I feel better equipped to enter the post-divorce dating scene. Wish me luck!