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Divorce: When parents start dating again

7 Things for Divorcing Parents to Discuss

When you start dating, what guidelines will you follow with regard to introducing the children to your significant other?  Setting up expectations in advance can make a world of difference in a process that often leaves parents feeling fearful and powerless.  Consider talking about these questions with your ex:

  1. When and how will you tell the kids you are dating someone?
  2. How will you explain the new dating relationship to the kids?  What will the kids call him/her?
  3. Will you text/talk on the phone with the new SO when you have your kids with you?
  4. Will you go on dates during your custody time (meaning the kids are with a babysitter)?
  5. How long will you date someone before:
    • You talk about them with your kids?
    • Allow the kids & your SO to meet?
    • Have outings/activities with your kids and your SO at the same time?
    • Allow the kids to meet your SO’s kids?
    • Go on outings with the SO & his/her children?  Overnights?
    • Allow the SO to come over to your house?
    • Allow the SO to sleep at your house when the kids are present?
  6. What role will the new SO play with the kids?  Will he or she discipline?  How will you handle the inevitable difference in parenting styles?
  7. Do you want to introduce your new SO to your ex?  (Do you want to meet your ex’s new SO?)

Parents should realize that as each party moves through the divorce process, naturally they will each grow apart from each other and will be increasingly less able to influence the other.  Furthermore, it’s hard to think objectively about one’s new SO when you’re in the exciting and love-struck phase of a new relationship.  For both of these reasons (and more,) I highly recommend setting up some mutual expectations about how to parent around new romantic relationships as soon as possible.  I hope these questions give you a starting off place for the conversation.