How have children reacted to their single parent dating again? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Answer by Michelle Roses:
My children reacted positively. It was never an issue. Here's why:
I took time for my children.
After I was separated and divorced, I did not date for more than a year. It was important I made my children a priority. Trying to form new relationships would have taken time and energy away from my kids during a time when their lives were still chaotic and confusing.
With my focus on them, my children were reassured they were my priority. This is especially important in any situation when the other parent is already dating. My kids knew I was putting their needs first. This gave them trust and stability. It demonstrated they could count on me.
Kids need time to heal too.
My children needed time to let go of the hope their dad and I would get back together. All children harbor this hope during a divorce because their family has fractured. By not dating, my children had time to heal and didn't have to worry about me being with, or investing emotions into someone "other than their dad."
I worked on me.
After a twenty-year relationship, it would have been incredibly unhealthy to think I'd find a man to date. I was quite a mess. My life was chaotic as a single mom, and I needed to figure out a job, manage the divorce and not let my kids see me lose it every 10 minutes.
I started therapy. I got the kids into therapy. I started to eat healthier, sleep more and exercise regularly. I discovered yoga again and found friends who would be supportive. I started meditating, Reiki and tried acupuncture.
I realized what an unhealthy relationship I had been in and how codependent I was. I was a perfectionist and hid my problems from the entire world.
I knew I would never be good for anyone else until I was good with myself. With a lot of hard work, I fixed me.
I didn't make adult problems into kid problems.
I talked to my kids and told them the truth - but never spoke poorly about their father. They had questions about my new life and what had happened with their dad. I never lied to my children and I explained both their dad and I had a part in our separation, which we could talk about after everyone had time to heal. Four years later, they don't care so much and they figured out most things themselves.
It was important not to speak badly about their dad - no matter how much I may have wanted to. Giving them too much information would have hurt them and made me look like a jerk. They still loved their dad and wanted/needed permission to love him without hurting me. Being honest and talking about our feelings, remembering good things about him helped them heal.
I made it crystal clear it would never be my kids' honor to meet a man I was dating. He would be the one who would be honored to meet them.
This was about keeping them a priority, making sure they felt secure and were ready to accept someone. It also ensured a man I was dating recognized my kids would always come first. He would have had to agree to make them a priority, even over me, should dating become marriage.
I didn't introduce them to anyone I dated until I'd been with him exclusively and known him six months.
This ensured we were serious. It gave us time as a couple to get past the "honeymoon stage" and face our own challenges without involving children. I was able to truly get to know a man and he got to know me. I never left them to go on a date. I only dated when they were with their father, not when I had time with them.
When my two daughters met Joe, they were excited, elated, and happy for me. They had watched me be happier than I'd been for years, and they understood Joe was desperate to meet them. They immediately recognized Joe would treat them as well (or better) than he treated me, and was a great role model.
When the kids were with me, Joe could be included, but we both made sure I spent time alone with the kids as well. My life did not revolve around my boyfriend. It still revolved around my children. Soon, Joe's life began to revolve around them too.
Joe was the only man I introduced my daughters to and we married in February 2016. The girls were elated to officially call Joe their stepfather and stood beside us as we spoke our vows.
Keep it going.
Dating as a single parent can only be good for your kids if you and your kids are good. They come first. Always. If they know this and are secure, they will support you dating and enjoy the process and adventure as much as you will.