Dating a Divorcee With Kids

By Robert Stone

Dating someone who has a child from a previous marriage introduces many complicated issues. Get your relationship off to a good start by considering these common scenarios.

My date has a son from a previous marriage. Is it OK to meet him now or should I wait until I have a better feel for the potential of this relationship before making introductions? If all goes well, how should I get to know him?

Most experts agree that you should wait until your relationship shows signs of becoming serious before making introductions. Children (especially young children) quickly can become attached to someone new and, consequently, may be confused or hurt if the relationship ends. If your date wants you to meet her son right away, suggest that she introduce you as a friend.

You may consider bringing the child a small gift to show your good will and sincere interest in him, such as baseball cards for a collector or new crayons for an aspiring artist. Don’t bring anything extravagant, which he may perceive as an effort to buy his affection.

Once your relationship becomes somewhat serious, try to get to know her son gradually, without attempting to rush or force the relationship or stepping in as a parental figure. Plan an outing that is fun and that requires minimal interaction. Go ice skating, take a day hike, visit the zoo or attend a sporting event. Activities such as those offer low-pressure ways of becoming acquainted with each other. Ask the child for help planning-requesting his opinion can help get the relationship off to a good start.

I’m really starting to like this guy I’ve been dating. But, I’m reluctant to meet his daughter. I’ve heard that a divorcee’s child can make dating the parent a real challenge. What kind of reactions can I expect from his daughter?

You may be surprised by her immediate acceptance. But more than likely, she will be upset by your relationship. Many children of divorced parents still have a lingering hope that their parents will reunite, and you are a sign that her parent’s relationship really is over. Common reactions to a new relationship include resentment, fear, jealousy and competitiveness.

Much of how your date’s daughter will react depends on her age. Generally, younger children are more accepting of new relationships. Adolescents, however, may have more trouble. This age is just beginning to understand sexuality, and often preteens have trouble dealing with their own sexuality, let alone the idea that their parents are sexual beings, too.

Although the child at first may refuse to bond with you, over time (maybe even over a year), you can build a relationship. Sticking around is the best way to show your date’s child that you intend to be there through thick and thin.

I want to begin spending the night at my girlfriend’s, but fear that doing so will compromise my relationship with her daughters.

You and your girlfriend should talk seriously about this next step. If possible, consider sleeping over when her children are not at home or are elsewhere. Only after a relationship is very serious should you consider exposing the children to this side of your relationship. By waiting, you will show the children that sex is not to be taken casually and that it should be reserved for only serious, loving relationships.

 

APA Reference
Stone, R. (2007). Dating a Divorcee With Kids. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/dating-a-divorcee-with-kids/0001167
Scientifically Reviewed
    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.