During the divorce process it is very hard for most to imagine ever finding love again and dating, even though the previous marriage is over. Many mediators and solicitors talk about a ‘child-centred divorce’ which is how parties are expected to approach a divorce when children are involved. For some, this is not the case and the outcome is very bitter and in my opinion it doesn’t help anyone involved.
But what happens after the divorce? Are you ready to find a new partner? Are the children ready to meet your new partner?
Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is a relationship seminar facilitator, divorce coach and author of the new ebook, ‘How Do I Tell the Kids … about the Divorce?’ She has written a recent blog detailing some of the questions she is regularly asked and her responses:
Is it ok to date when you’re separated, or should you wait until you are legally divorced?
It’s always better to take some time to prepare yourself before starting to date – legally divorced or not. Are you feeling clear and complete regarding your divorce? Are you emotionally comfortable and ready to move on? Did you learn the lessons you need to learn so you don’t repeat past mistakes? Dating won’t resolve anger, conflicts and insecurities, so do the inner work first before getting out into the dating world – regardless of how long it takes.
How long should you wait before introducing your “dates” to your children?
Take your time and get to know your new partner very well before introducing them to your child of any age. Children are emotionally vulnerable when new adults enter their lives, especially when they’re dating Mum or Dad. Don’t create a revolving door of “new friends” for your children to meet. Wait until you know this is a very special friend worthy of their attention. And then take it very slowly. Make sure you remind your children that no one will ever replace their “real” Mum or Dad (unless you are justified in doing so). The transitions are a lot smoother when the new “friend” doesn’t come across as a new “parent.”
On holidays, should you make an effort to try to spend time with your ex, to create a family-holiday atmosphere for your child?
In most cases the more time Mum and Dad spend “family style” with the children, the happier the kids are. If you can include your former spouse in holiday activities – even if for only a period of time – your children will appreciate that. You are modelling behaviour your kids will emulate in their own lives. Give your children the gift of peace and harmony when you and your ex are together – and make it as often as possible. Special events, graduations, birthdays and holidays can be so much more enjoyable when the kids don’t have to choose between the parents they love – and those parents behave like mature adults in their presence.
If you had a good relationship with your ex’s family, should you try to stay in touch?
You are only divorcing your former spouse, not your children’s grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. The more you can continue life routines as close to normal, the easier the transition for your children. Make every effort to maintain relationships with extended family on both sides. Your children will appreciate it and thank you! So will Grandma and Grandad.
How long does it take after you are divorced to start considering getting remarried?
Second marriages have higher divorce rates than first marriages. That’s because too many people don’t learn from their experiences and errors. Take your time in exploring the lessons and “gifts” from your divorce. See a counsellor or join a support group for outside insights. Enjoy the dating process. When you feel you’ve sincerely let go of the baggage from the past you can then consider starting another new chapter in your life.
Do you consider the children of the person you are dating as baggage, and does that necessarily have a negative connotation?
Anyone who considers their date’s children as baggage should never date anyone with children. Children deserve better than to be considered an annoyance to put up with. If you’re a parent, don’t ever date someone who does not love and enjoy your children. The relationship will only deteriorate and you never want to have to choose between your children and your love partner. If you feel burdened by your children, seek counselling to help work through this challenge. Children are sensitive. When they pick up on your feelings it will create emotional pain and insecurity that no child deserves.
At Your Family First we offer mediation services and at the sessions either party can address the introduction of a new partner in a calm and controlled environment or any other issue. This could be by discussing how you are going to introduce a new partner to the children and ensuring that the other parent is not negative towards any new partners which will effect the thoughts and feelings of the child. In an ideal world, it would be great if both parties can discuss together how to deal with this sensitive subject by putting the needs of any child or children first.
Should you require further information about mediation and how it can help you and your former partner discuss and agree on matters which affect your children, please get in touch with Chris Myles on firstname.lastname@example.org