You’ve met the perfect guy. Handsome, charming, gainfully employed. This could be it! But what? What’s that? Your kids aren’t buying it? They don’t like him? They don’t understand. He laughs at your jokes! He adores you! HE HAS A JOB!
What lies at the heart of the rejection may have nothing at all to do with your boyfriend. It may be simply a bump in the road to your happily-ever-after. Still, it’s important to for you to understand where your kids are coming from. After all, dating while parenting is a delicate balancing act.
6 Things To Consider!
1. Have the kids had time to grieve the divorce?
Parents are not the only ones who need to grieve divorce. Divorce ensures that kids experience major changes in their lives as well. Those first few months and even years after a divorce are a transition period for every family member. Often kids’ opportunities to see the other parent are limited. Their schedules are upended due to parenting plans and custodial arrangements. Perhaps they have even moved and changed schools.
Any differences in the lives of children can cause them anxiety. Introducing a new partner can create further apprehension when kids aren’t sure just how it will affect them. So ask yourself, are you asking too much of the kids too soon?
2. Time…Too much with him/Too little with them.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the first flush of early love. He’s on your mind all of the time. You’re thinking of your next date. It’s natural. However, after divorce, it’s likely that your kids are being shuttled between two homes. They are not spending the same quantity of time with you as when the family was under one roof. Consider whether your kids are getting the time with you that they deserve.
3. Loyalty to Dad?
Children are often unable to comprehend the full capacity of divorce. They cannot understand and process the emotions that they are feeling. In their minds, their enjoyment of any time spent in your new boyfriend’s presence may cause them to feel disloyal to their dad. (Heck, there are grown adults who haven’t sorted through this dilemma!) With positive reinforcement from all of their parents, they will come to understand that accepting mom’s new boyfriend is not being disloyal to dad.
4. Age Matters.
Generally, researchers suggest that kids under the age of 10 are the most willing to accept a new adult in their lives, while those between the ages of 10-14 may experience the most difficult time creating a relationship with a parent’s new partner. Younger children are more self-involved out of necessity. If the adults in their lives are tending to their physical needs, they are altogether more open emotionally.
But those tween and teen years, including those 15 and older, are fraught with lots of physical and psychological changes as they transition into young adulthood. They are testing their parents, developing their own thoughts and feelings. Adding your new man to their world can result in the perfect storm.
5. Your boyfriend is not your child’s parent.
It may relieve some of the pressure and stress in your existence as a single mom to allow your new man to make decisions in the home, including disciplining your kids. Don’t do it! Your boyfriend is not a parent, or even a stepparent to your children. If you are having difficulty with your children at this early stage of your relationship, allowing your fellow any control over your kids will only hinder progress in forming full-on familial bonds in the future.
6. Easy does it!
Establishing relationships, in any context, takes time. Allow your kids to work things out on their own time and in their own minds. Let things happen naturally. Remember this is not a sprint, but a marathon. Invest the time in developing healthy relationships between your loves. After all, you are partly responsible for the vision that your children will have of healthy adult relationships. Make smart choices by not pushing too hard or too fast.