DATING, SEX, AND THE SINGLE
most divorced adults eventually resume a social life,
dating enters the picture. It is probably one of the
more difficult things a child must become accustomed
It's not easy on you, either! A child's usual reaction
to Mom or Dad's first date is a negative one. Some
divorced parents who've weathered the storms say.
"Make sure the first date you bring home is a
throwaway rather than a significant one."
Rushing into dating threatens a child's world. Your
children may view your dates as competition for your love
and attention and as a rejection of their other,
now-absent parent. Their fantasies of reconciliation will
be damaged; and the loss of your attention reawaken fears
Beware of letting yourself think that finding a new
spouse will make your family "whole" again.
Remarriage based on that agenda often has more
"holes" than "wholes." Be aware, too,
that children are usually more accepting of Dad's dating
than of Mom's dating. It's hard to say whether it's a
sexist reaction or just that Mom, more often than not, is
the caretaking parent and is expected to maintain the
Socializing with your kids along is one good way to
approach the social scene
Without Partners is a large, national organization
that allows you this option. Or start your own
family-to-family social group. It's really not hard.
Invite all your single-with-children friends over for some
shared event, such as a brunch. Socializing with your kids
takes the pressure off of meeting "someone"
because you can always enjoy being there with your
child(ren). If you think you don't know enough folks in
the category, simply let friends invite friends or
acquaintances they may have heard about. Your network just
needs a little nudge.
For most, dating and sex the second time around is
scary and stressful. Just because you've been married
doesn't mean you're confident or are even experienced in
Becoming socially active again is important because it
helps free a parent from becoming obsessive about his or
her parenting role. Letting your adult life revolve around
your child's is actually very hard on your child.
To help out, here are some dating do's and don'ts:
- Meet your dates away from home in the beginning of a
- Introduce dates as friends if your child resents
your dating, explaining that parents needs adult
friend, too. Add a tag such as "so-and-so is my
tennis partner," or "a co-worker from the
- Try not to have a slew of different dates running
through your home and your child's life. This
lifestyle might be fun for you, but it's confusing for
and hard on the children
- Enjoy the benefits of shared physical custody, if
you have it. You can perhaps confine your dating to
the times the children are not with you. If you only
have access to your children on weekends, there will
come a point when they have to share in your dating
life. Just remember that the longer this takes, the
easier it will be for your children.
- Begin locking a bedroom door for privacy before you
have someone spending the night so that option is
available to you.
- Choose with care those significant others whom you
let get close to your family. Children get attached to
people you date over a long period of time, and these
breakups are often harder on them than on the adults
- Letting your ex know your whereabouts when going out
of town is a responsible act, but is not always done.
If your ex will not give you a phone number, suggest
that he or she let you know who does know how to reach
him should an emergency arise. (This is not the same
as keeping tabs on your former spouse's social life --
consciously or unconsciously.)
Be prepared when your children attempt to sabotage your
dates through a variety of rude comments, obnoxious
behavior, and "forgetting" to pass on phone
You can let a child know that you understand what he or
she is feeling, but make it clear that this type of
behavior is unacceptable. As for your sex life, do
recognize that despite their knowledge and savvy, children
are usually uncomfortable with their parents'
It's not necessary to reveal the sexual component of
any relationship, at least until some commitment seems to
be in the offing. You can avoid forcing your child to deal
with this by taking an overnight trip, going to a hotel,
or waiting until you have some privacy in your own home.
Time is your best ally
Don't be in a hurry to have your children participate
in your relationships. If you find yourself feeling uneasy
about having your "friend" stay overnight while
your kids are around, don't issue the invitation.
Many parents go to elaborate lengths to keep their love
life private, even when their children are in the house
There are as many solutions to finding private times as
there are single parents. Be prepared, also, for
surprising questions about your marital and premarital
love life. Your kids may want to know whether you and Mom
(Dad) slept together before you were married, whether you
were monogamous in marriage, or how many partners you may
have had. Be as honest as you feel is appropriate.
Teens, especially, may be looking for reasons to say no
to peer pressure, so make your answers constructive for
If your love life isn't so hot, it can be agonizing to
see your ex dating or in love. One underlying reason for
your pain, as we all feel when uncoupled, is fear that
WE'LL never be loved again. It's not true.
Love comes when you least expect it. It often comes
after your heart has healed or when finding a partner is
no longer a consuming objective.
Sex, And The Single Parent was
written by Vicki Lansky