Dating as a single parent can be tough. Do you find that your kids having a hard time accepting your dating partner, or warming up to someone you want to spend more time with? Your children may even tell you outright that they dislike the person that you are seeing. There are many well recognized reasons for why children react the way they do to someone new in your life. These can range from feeling jealous of the time you are taking away from them to be with someone new, anger toward a person they see as a poor replacement for their biological mother or father, or even a wish to try to protect you from being hurt again. The best way to handle resistance from your children is to sit down with them and take time to discuss and explore their underlying feelings.
Sometimes, one way to make an opening between your new partner and your children is for your date to spend some time alone with the child that dislikes him or her. This creates a situation where you are out of the picture and cannot be manipulated, so they actually may get along much better in your absence. By leaving out the “key” person, you are not present as the audience for the negative behavior. There may be an opening for the child to learn more about the new partner than was possible before.
It is also possible that there are some qualities about your new partner that may be difficult for your kids to accept or handle. For example, there might be a certain tone of voice that the person uses which your child is reacting to, or another habit that is offensive but which your partner doesn’t realize he or she engages in. In that case, and especially if it’s the kind of characteristic that might benefit your partner to change, it is worth making the attempt to discuss it with him or her to see if he or she is open to working on making that change. Often, people don’t realize that they can be too critical or that they tend to interrupt someone who is speaking. It takes an artful touch to point these habits out in a constructive way, and of course the person may or not be motivated to make those personality changes.
In a situation where your kids have disliked everyone you’ve ever dated, at least this demonstrates that the issue isn’t personal to your date, but rather has more to do with something related to their other parent being replaced which is bothering them. See if you can discuss this to get them to open up about their reactions. This isn’t always easy, especially for teenagers. You might start by telling them a little about your own reaction to how your parents related to each other, and let your children see how you were when you were their age, not just in your parenting role. Kids open up more when they are not spoken to in a “teacher-like” way. Talk about your own childhood a bit with them and see if this can generate a genuine conversation.
Overall, for the single parent dating again, the key is communication, either one on one between you and your child, or perhaps with the help of a therapist if you decide to spend more time with your new dating partner.
Sue Calhoun writes on dating topics all over the Web. Find some great places to meet others in the single parent dating scene at http://www.online-dating-connection.com/single-parent-dating.html.
single parent dating