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Dating During Divorce

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: What is your opinion about dating while going through a divorce? How will this impact my two children ages six (daughter) and age eleven (son). Do you have any suggested guidelines?

A: I have seen mostly negative effects on kids I have counseled when either parent dates during the process of divorcing. Divorce is usually confusing and scary for kids, especially younger children. They are unsure what will happen to them, despite assurances from parents. I certainly cannot condemn a parent who is no longer committed to her marriage for wanting to be in the company of another. Nor am I suggesting that a divorced parent observe a particular time of abstinence from dating after the divorce is final. I am saying that kids really aren't that concerned with the legalities of the terms separation and divorce. Their world is being turned upside down and anything that can lend some stability to their lives during this emotionally trying time is a major plus. Seeing one's dad or mom actively dating during this trying time threatens whatever stability they are trying to hold onto. My advice, for most of these situations, is to refrain from exposing one's kids to seeing their parent in this role.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.


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